These tips are guaranteed to skyrocket your child's motivation and get them obsessed with playing every day.
O) Only say "play", don't call it "practice"
B) Be Positive: Inspire don't ever criticize
S) Stop them playing before they want to
E) Encourage connection to musicians
S) Silence: turn off devices and listen
S) Sing along and Join in with them
E) Enjoy connecting with them through music
D) Daily Habit: Inspire your child daily
Does this sound complicated or overwhelming? Don't worry. We will start with 3 quick and easy tips first. We know you want your child to succeed or you wouldn‘t have started reading this post. It isn't about forcing your child to practice and get the skills until somehow, like magic, they start to love it. It certainly isn't about forcing a child to spend hours of practice in a room alone with a piano and a timer. It isn't about importing a $50,000 grand piano from Germany on day one. It isn't only about finding a good teacher, although without one it is very unlikely that your child will succeed, long term. Please read my post: 6 Tips for Finding a Great Music Teacher.
In each section of this post, you will see a concept, and three levels of engagement:
1) is an easy quick suggestion for immediate implementation.
2) is for when you feel energized to go a little further. Use #2 alternated between days of #1 in a week for an amazing burst of motivation.
3) Once a week take it all the way to the top and go for suggestion number three. This is where obsession begins to build momentum.
CREATING OBSESSION FOR MUSICAL CONNECTION IN YOUR HOME!
O) Only focus on playing, don‘t emphasize practice. The bottom line is: in 50 years at the highest levels of learning, playing, and teaching music, I have obsessively played and obsessively practiced. The first was out of the sheer love of communication and connection through the language of music. The second was out of fear of failure and obligation. The word “practice” brings with it feelings of isolation, fear of not being good enough, and the expectation that perfection is somehow attainable, which it simply is not. There is no such thing as a perfect performance or even a perfect practice session. When we use the word “Play”, we allow your child to drop the fear, stress, and obligation and choose only love and connection instead.
Here’s how to use the word play to inspire:
1) Make Motivating Comments:
“I love it when you play for me!”
“I notice you’ve been playing that song beautifully lately!”
2) Make Even More Motivating Comments:
"Every time I listen to you play I feel proud to have a musician in our family!”
“It is stunning for me to hear you play. I hear such natural talent in you.”
3) Make "Obsession Guaranteed" Comments:
“I love sharing this song and learning to play it with you!”
“I love the connection to you I feel when we play together.”
B) Be Positive: Catch your child playing, and say something positive every time it happens. It doesn't matter what they are playing: whether it is a lesson, assigned song, or they are fooling around trying to figure out something they heard on a video game. When you make a positive comment, always make eye contact and be sincere.
1) Make Motivating Comments:
“I love it when I hear you play! It makes me smile.”
“I’ve been noticing you are playing a lot more often, and I love to listen."
2) Make Even More Motivating Comments:
"Please play that piece I heard at your last lesson… it was amazing!”
“I can tell you love playing lately. It comes through in your music!”
3) Make "Obsession Guaranteed" Comments:
“Having a musical child like you is a dream come true! Can you show me how to play that too?”
“Stop playing before I’m forced to join you! I have to do my chores, and that sounds so fun!” Then sit down and let them teach you a part of the song they are playing.
S) Stop. Just using the word stop makes us want to keep doing whatever we were doing. Think of an activity that works well, and that is supremely motivating for kids of all ages, ie: Bed-time cuddle and story time. Kids they love the connection they feel when they cuddle with you for a favorite story, and it allows them to stay up a little later. It’s a double whammy of motivation. I suggest implementing your bed-time music routine right before your bed-time story routine, in the same exact way. We want them to say “may I play another song please“ at least once a day.
1) Motivating Activities and Comments:
“Get your jammies on and let‘s meet in the music room for one last song before bed.”
“We can only listen to one song, and then we will stop and go to bed.”
2) Even More Motivating Activities and Comments:
“Your song sounds so beautiful. Just for tonight we don‘t have to stop after one song.”
“We will stay up just 3 minutes longer for you to play another short song, but then we have to stop to go to bed.”
3) "Obsession Guaranteed" Activities and Comments:
“If you want to play a song instead of wash the dishes, just for tonight, that’s ok. But you have to stop to go to bed in 10 minutes at the most.”
“While we are in the music room, you may stay up and play for us tonight. But you must absolutely stop after (X) minutes and go to bed.” (Say this with conviction and adhere to the time limit unless they play really beautifully. If they do, let them know you are extending the time, not stopping just this once, because the playing is exceptional.)
E) Encourage Musical Connection. Connect with your unborn baby and infant through singing to and playing for them. Expose your toddler to musicians through private and group music classes, mommy & me, and family music time. Help your child start long-term relationships with musical mentors through private music instruction, bands & group ensembles, and creating your family band. Encourage your teen to connect with other musicians through playing duets together, tutoring & teaching opportunities, summer camp programs, school and community bands & orchestras, ensembles, or competitions. Connect with parents of other musical children and encourage everyone to find ways to play together. Learn to play so you play with and mentor your child, or vice versa.
1) Encourage with Motivating Comments and Experiences:
“You have such a beautiful voice. I seem to hear you singing wherever you go.”
“It is exciting for me to see you playing with your friends. It must feel so rewarding!”
2) Create Even More Motivating Experiences:
“The elderly people in the hospital could sure use some cheering up at the holidays. Do you think we could put together 3 songs to play or sing for them? Perhaps we could invite one of your musical friends to join us? It would make the patients feel cared for, and it also counts for community service hours for high school.”
“Would you like to try playing in the school band or choir? I think they would be lucky to have you!”
3) Create "Obsession Guaranteed" Experiences:
"Would you like to have a karaoke birthday party with your friends?"
"Would you like to invite some of your friends over to try "rock band"?
(it is important to know if your child‘s personality type is a T or an F.)
For a Feeler: “There’s a school talent show coming up. Why don’t you share that amazing song with all of your friends!”
For a Thinker: “There‘s a talent competition coming up. I bet you would win first place if you played that song!”
S) Silence for Imagination and Inspiration. Turn off all devices for 10 minutes once per day and let the creativity happen. Playing over TV, music in the background, phones, computers, and other distractions is uninspiring. I have been playing for 50 years, and can not find inspiration over distracting noises. Neither can a child. When a phone takes you away from your child it is robbing you of connection with the most precious person you have in your life, and it is robbing them of creativity. Turn everything off, then try these inspiring ideas:
1) Inspiring Ideas:
Have your child play a favorite song as softly as they can (piano). Then medium loud (mezzo-forte). Then as loud as possible. (forte) Have your child play a favorite song as slowly as they can (ritardando). Then walking speed (andante). Then as fast as possible. (allegro) 2) Even More Inspiring Activities:
Have your child create a short melody that tells about:
A) Water runs down a stream, grows into a river, falls off of a waterfall, runs back into a big river, and finally into the ocean.
B) A child gets on a train, goes on an adventure to the mountains, sleds down the snow, and comes back on the train.
3) Obsession Guaranteed Activities: (Repeat these activities many times with different choices.)
Have your child sit and meditate with eyes closed for 30 seconds. Then imagine what kind of song they want to compose or learn to play or sing next. Is it fast or slow, happy or sad, adventurous or mysterious, calm or agitated, smooth or rough. What colors or notes do they want in it? Red, Orange, Gold, Blue, Green, Purple, White, Turquoise, Pink, Lavender, Black-Cherry, or Olive?
Now imagine people listening to it. Are they excited or calmed, energized or relaxed, hopeful or surprised, etc. When do you think you will play it? Now or in 3 months? A year or two? 5 years? Where do you want to play it? At home or at a concert? A small concert with a few friends or a medium-sized concert with 10-20 friends? A concert for your whole school? On a stage in New York or Hollywood? On a TV show or in a movie?
S) Sing Along and Join In. Whether you are in the room or listening from the kitchen, if your child hears you singing along, they will know you are listening and not on Facebook. A word here to singing critics: keep your critical comments to yourself. We wouldn’t expect someone to play piano well if they hadn’t studied it. Most children don‘t sound great at first. A good voice takes time to develop, and the most important determining factor for development is confidence. Continual singing is a sign of musical talent and the ability to develop a great voice. It’s also indicative of a happy state of mind! Always encourage and welcome singing. Even a small negative comment can destroy confidence for a lifetime!
1) Inspiring Comments:
“Wow... you remember all the words to the songs you hear. How is that possible?”
“I love your voice. What a beautiful sound you are developing!”
2) Even more Inspiring Comments:
“I notice you seem to be singing every time I look at you! That’s a sign of musical talent!”
“Musical genius seems to run in our family. Now you have it too! Let’s find out more about the other musicians in our family tree. We could call grandma or grandpa and find out if they ever sang or played... maybe even find out the names of their favorite songs!”
3) "Obsession Inspiring" Comments:
“We need to find a teacher that understands how talented you are! You were born to play/sing!”
“You have been singing since you were a little baby! We always knew you were a born musician who could grow up to play anything!”
E) Enjoy the Deep Connection you feel through music with your child. Take time for simple enjoyment and appreciation by noticing your feelings of joy when you hear your child play, and express them often.
1) Inspiring Comments:
“I love seeing you smile when you play.”
“I love the fun we have when we enjoy a concert together.”
2) Even More Inspiring Comments:
“I enjoy every moment we spend together, and our music connection seems to make those moments even more special.”
“I feel so joyful when we sing a song together just for fun!”
3) Deeply Connecting Observations:
“You seem to express the music that‘s in my soul. I don’t quite know how you do it, but it happens every time you play for me.”
“I feel so connected to the music that you play. You have such a gift for communicating your deepest feelings, and I know you will always be successful in life because of it.”
D) Daily Enthusiastic Exposure: Create an enthusiastic daily habit of encouraging, inspiring, and motivating your child to love connecting through music.
1) Create a quick rocket of desire:
Go through this OBSESSED formula, and focus on only one section each week. Make one comment to your child from the first group each day. Change up the wording and make it your own!
2) Create an even faster rocket:
Focus on one section each week, alternating one idea from the first group, and one from the second group each day.
3) Create Obsession - Only when you are ready:
Focus on one section, and work through all three types of inspiration in a week.
4) Extra Credit: For a SUPER-CHARGED POWER BOOST!!!
Work through all 3 types of motivation in a section, in a single day!!!
5) Super Duper Extra Credit: FOR THE OVERACHIEVING PARENT WHO JUST CAN'T STOP INSPIRING THEIR CHILD!!!!
Go for all of these sections in order or randomly, at will. Drink a glass of wine, get some peace and quiet from the cacophony of sound in your home, and email me in the morning! I definitely want to know who you are, an
d who your child is!!!
For more ideas about music education, lessons, brain development and science, and whole-brain music read my book entitled: SensAPitch, A Whole-Brain Music Method (tm) Signed copies available for pre-order now. Release date: January, 2019.
If you get overwhelmed, don't worry. I will give you three of the easiest of these suggestions that are guaranteed to skyrocket your child fast.
Here are the 3 easiest 30-second things you can do to skyrocket motivation right now and every day, even if you do nothing else yet: 1) Notice your child playing anything and make a positive comment about it. 2) Have your child play you a short song before story-time every night. 3) Sit with your child and sing along as they play or sing a song.