A guide to practice for Parents

Encouragement and praise is so important when your child is laerning an instrument.

Parents can make a huge difference to how well a student progresses on their instrument through encouragement and taking an interest in what they are doing.

How do I help my child to practise?

Help your child to identify a regular time in the day which is their ‘practice’ time. Identify a room in the house which is their practice room where they will not be distracted and also won’t disturb the rest of the house and the neighbours.

Encouragement and praise is so important. Jokes about “wailing cats” or “putting it out of its misery” can be really off-putting. Parents and friends are often surprised at how the playing improves after only a few weeks!

Check and sign their practice diary every week to find out what you son / daughter should be working on.

I know nothing about music. What do I do if they ask for my help?

If you have little knowledge of music or playing an instrument then you can ask their instrumental teacher for help via the practice diary or phone the Music Service on 01375 413680.

How long should my child’s practice sessions last?

This will depend on three things:

The teacher will suggest a minimum time and number of sessions per week. Any time spent practising over this minimum will be a bonus. However, quality and regularity of practice are more important than mere quantity.

If the recommendation is for an advanced student to practise an hour a day this does not have to be done in one go.  Two half hour sessions is perfectly fine. 

Practising for too long can be negative and harmful to the student.

How else can I encourage and support my child’s musical development?

Encourage you son / daughter to join a band, orchestra or other musical ensemble.  This will teach them a lot more about their instrument and will develop their all-round musicality.  It helps with their sight-reading, encourages them to listen and play in tune and in time with others.  It improves stamina and performance skills and introduces them to new, like-minded students.  But these ensemble sessions should not replace, but are in addition to, the regular practice your son / daughter should be doing.  Further information about the ensembles available in Thurrock can be found on this website or in your child’s practice diary.  It is acknowledged that taking your child to and from ensemble rehearsals is a big investment in your time but it will pay dividends in the future.

Take them to concerts where they can hear professional musicians performing to a high standard.  This will hopefully inspire them to greater things.

Encourage your son / daughter to take advantage of any performance opportunities offered by their school or by the Music Hub.  Find more details of forthcoming Hub events.  Praising their efforts after their performance will mean a lot to them.

After time your son / daughter will benefit from having their own instrument.  However, please consult you child’s tutor before buying anything.  Cheap instruments can actually hinder progress and buying a second hand instrument may be better than brand new. More information on the assisted musical instrument purchase scheme.

The purchase of a good music stand will be a good investment.  It is also a good idea to keep a stock of accessories for instruments such as:

Your child’s music teacher will also recommend tutor books.  These can be ordered from local music shops or off the internet.

Pupils will progress at different rates so comparison with peers is not always constructive.  Do not worry if progress is slow especially at the start.

Your child’s teacher will recommend them for an exam when they feel the time is right.  If a child is pushed into an exam too early this can be a very negative experience.  Taking exams can also take time away from learning technical skills on an instrument.  Please be prepared to accept the teacher’s advice even if it means waiting a little longer before they are entered for an exam.  Find out more about exams organised by the Music Service.