Advice for ParentsWhat is the most important responsibility that a parent has for his or her musical child? Encouragement!

Evidence has proven that the most powerful force that leads to student dropout is the lack of parental encouragement at home. Praise always accomplishes more than criticism. Children need to be guided, they need to be praised, and they need to build self-reliance. Parents play a crucial role in all these areas.

Don't expect miracles in the beginning. Our ears are constantly serenaded by music played by the best musicians in the business over the radio, TV, and phonograph. The struggling sounds of a beginner take a little getting used to. But as you notice minute improvement, don't hesitate with a rewarding remark—children need and thrive on it.

If a child knows that he/she will practice every day at the same time, it is easier for you and more secure for your child. If your child practices only when he/she feels like it, practice will probably never happen. Get in the habit of regular practice, and do it. Say, "Practicing is what we do in our family." I have found that "in our family" is one of the greatest phrases you can use. If children believe that something is done in their family, they will do it.

There are ways to encourage your child outside of practice sessions:

  • Be sure to provide a place to practice where he/she can make mistakes without the presence of an audience or other distractions.
  • Impress upon him/her the importance of caring for his/her music and instrument.
  • Arrange for a practice session each day. (Consistency is more important than number of minutes.)
  • Make every effort to attend the concerts and programs during which he/she will perform.

There are many ways to encourage your child within the practice session:

  • Sit with him/her occasionally during a practice session.
  • Be interested in what he/she is doing. Be a good listener.
  • Ask about his/her practice assignment.
  • Ask him/her to explain what his/her goals are in the practice session.
  • Ask about his/her posture and how it relates to an improved sound.
  • Encourage him/her to repeat exercises for development with definite goals in mind.
  • Emphasize the importance and need for careful listening while practicing.
  • Rather than set an amount of time for practice, encourage your child to work for accomplishment. Small, manageable sections can be worked out with a feeling of success. Working toward goals rather than minutes is much more motivating for students.

We, the instructors, will provide the guidance and motivation, and you, the parents, will provide the encouragement. Together we will then share in the exciting experience of witnessing the development of your child's inner creative talent and personal fulfillment through the medium of music.

*Taken from the Suzuki Journal, 2000