Step #6: Redefine Progress OR 7 Ways to Celebrate Musical Growth.
The word progress has very little place in the arts. Musicians growth of skills come in plateaus, meaning that your child may sit on the same plateau, struggling to move beyond a certain point for months before one day, leaping to the next plateau. At the risk of sounding too Zen, learning to play requires a whole lot of staying on the path and not much of arriving at a destination. I often tell my students, ‘the good news is that there is a huge amount of music to learn, the bad news is we will never learn it all.’ Musicians move slowly and steadily down a smart & efficient path and periodically are totally surprised by the new skills they can do on their instrument. We live in a world that measures absolutely everything and relies more and more on data. So it can be confusing to (and even discouraging) to know that very little will be measured for the life of your practicing child.
What does this mean for you, as someone who desperately wants to see your child succeed? Here is a short list of 7 Ways to Celebrate Your Child’s Musical Growth:
Celebration #1: Focus on what you can measure. # of new songs your child has learned, # of fun gigs your child has played with other musicians, # of friends she has made through making music with others, levels your child reached on ear training games (we call these BLAM games – Big Lesson About Music games)
Celebration #2: Record your child practicing…NOT just performing. And listen back as a family. Not to critique, but rather to embrace effort. Great dinner time activity.
Celebration #3: Take your child to a concert. As a reward for all their hard work OR for your teenage daughter, buy tickets for her to go to a show with her best friend (you stay home).
Celebration #4: Play WITH your child rather than show them HOW to play. Just jam with them. Can’t play an instrument? Then simply sing along. Even just “la la la’s” along with their first piano piece. They love to see you try (especially ages 4-11).
Celebration #5: Encourage them to BUY music on iTunes or even a CD at the store. And then take the next step of listening…really listening with them. A road trip is the perfect time for this.
Celebration #6: Show up to every single performance they have. This is especially important in the beginning but can last a lifetime. My mom was my #1 fan & she showed up even at the dive bars on a weeknight! You hear about the famous basketball player who says his mom was at every high school game he ever played…this is the same thing.
Celebration #7: Check in on their HomeRock (lesson notes) multiple times a week. All you have to do is read their weekly goal….one musical goal for each week of the year. Simple and supportive. Takes 2 minutes of your time. And most importantly it shows interest and investment.
Ask yourself today what needs to happen for you to suspend your need for your child to succeed but instead sustain.
Substitute the word succeed with sustain.
In the arts, those that go on to enjoy a lifetime of creativity, start by building a sustainable routine. You are an important (very important) part of establishing that routine. And guess what, it can be tons of fun. In a world that is obsessed with measuring progress, try measuring the number of times your family celebrates sharing music together.
Have fun making music today!