It’s a common refrain in this day and age: what ever happened to “free time?” The question rings familiar to each and every one of us, but is equally true of our children. With each passing year, parents anticipate yet more homework and higher stakes for children’s grades. With each success comes the challenge to do equally as well, if not better on the next assignment. As time goes by, the academic pressure can be overwhelming for many students.
And that’s just academics. Meanwhile, many parents and students think of extracurricular activities such as sports and music as merely additional items on the checklist of a well-rounded student. When scheduling pressure becomes overwhelming, these “checklist” activities are typically the first ones to go. And, with summer on its way, the temptation to push everything aside and take a seasonal break is compelling, too. That mindset, however, overlooks both the difficulty of restarting practice after an extended break AND the emotional benefits of such activities: specifically, a release or buffer against the many sources of anxiety in the modern child’s life.
Parents (and teachers!) would do better to cast music as a break from obligations, rather than an obligation in and of itself. Music should enable children to relax, refocus and express themselves under the guidance of a mentor. Countless studies enumerate the benefits of music study for the psyche, but these benefits can seem elusive in the moment when a child is told that he or she “HAS to practice.” Particularly when a child seems to be frustrated, stressed or tired, reframe your practice time as a “music break”. Give the child more freedom to select practice pieces, play or sing faster, slower, higher or lower as an outlet. Then, after the 15-30 minutes of play, the student can return to studies or other obligations activities refreshed. The same approach can work well in the summer or over vacations - don’t take a break FROM practice, take a break WITH it!
The programs of Piano Lessons in Your Home are designed to support this approach to music education. Reducing the stress and wait times associated with traveling to and from lessons each week benefits both parent and child, and makes the lessons feel like less of a chore. If you are not already seeing these types of benefits from your child’s musical development, contact us today!