Know where to practice.
This is the second of a five part series that will walk you through building better practice habits for yourself and/or your children. The intent of these posts is to take the mystery out of practicing and ultimately build sustainable practice habits.
Things I hope you never have to say…
My goal is to help you never have to say, “My kid just wasn’t into music, and I could never get him to practice.” Or worse yet, “It was such a chore, and I just didn’t want to force her to play. I wanted music to be fun.”
If either of these quotes sound familiar, this blog is for you. I promise there is a better way to grow as a musician. And if you are just joining us on the Brooklyn Music Factory blog, I highly recommend starting from the beginning of this series.
So what is step two to building better practice habits?
Knowing where to practice
In marketing, they say location is everything. When you build your store where lots of traffic already exists, you are already half way to getting people in the door and that much closer to making a sale. Your home music playing environment is exactly the same. If you set up the piano or hang that guitar on the wall in a part of your home where your musician will pass it often, he or she is 50 percent more likely to play it. Most importantly, if the instrument is in the basement or the front hall (‘out of the way’), then he or she is 50 percent less likely to want to play it.
Make instruments a part of your home
My mom never had a nice instrument in the house where she raised me. She had lots of them (piano, guitar, African drums, drum set), but they were all pretty beaten up. Nothing fancy. But I can picture exactly where they lived in our house. You could see the grand piano the moment you walked through the front door taking up more than half of the dining room, which was essentially part of the kitchen. My drums lived in my bedroom (mostly for sound reasons!), but I often took them out to the back yard and played there while my mom hung laundry (that sounds SO Little House on the Prairie…it wasn’t). The instruments in our house were a part of our life. Therefore, there was almost no way I could not have played the piano each time I got home….I literally had to scoot around it to get into the kitchen for my snack! Because I never had to ask “where to practice,” I naturally found myself practicing more often.
Set an example
Studies have shown that the single largest indicator of how quickly a child will learn to read, and ultimately how proficient and interested he or she will become in reading, is how many books can be found in his or her home. Makes sense, right? The studies have found that, more than even reading aloud to your child, just having books sitting around your home shows your children that you are interested in books, and your interest inspires their literacy. The pile of books on your bedside table says that reading is something mom loves to do. It tells your child that reading is a valid way to spend time. It makes picking up a book and trying to read it easy to do.
Music is no different
Playing a musical instrument is exactly the same. Lots of instruments lying around says that mom values music and playing it (even if she doesn’t play anything yet!) Show the importance of music in your home by putting the instruments somewhere central. Make practicing them or just playing them an obvious and valid choice.
Here are three things you can do this week to promote music and practice at home:
- Set up your music area in a part of the home that is frequented often and where the musician can feel included, not excluded, from the family activities.
- Add a few more toys to the space, like a basket of miscellaneous percussion or a single hand drum. Try these to start. (Or download our Musical Gear guide!)
- Hang that guitar on the wall. Make it obvious and easy to grab and play. Here is the hook I have on my wall. It works great for all guitars.
I challenge you to take these simple steps in the next seven days. Order what you need online, and take 20 minutes over the weekend to set it all up. Or maybe you have already done this? If so, share the results with us below in the comments. Please let our readers know what you’ve done to craft a music space in your home. See you in Part 3 of Making Practice Work – Instruments = Toys!
-Nate Shaw, co-founder of the Brooklyn Music Factory
P.S. We’ve put together this Musical Family Toolkit to help parents everywhere start their family’s music lesson journey in the best way possible, based on the lessons we’ve learned here at Brooklyn Music Factory working with thousands of families. Download it today!Download the toolkit