This is often, for parents, a very serious and sometimes troubling issue in music study.
How can I get my child to practice?
They should be told that it is normal for students to not want to practice, and home practice should be supervised by the parents until the child is older and has developed more independence.
There is an excellent book about this: How to get your child to practice without resorting to violence by Cynthia Richards.
In general, the recommendations in the book include:
- Remain calm but firm; don't nag, threaten, get angry, or give up. Brushing teeth is not optional, and neither is practicing. 10 minutes a day is fine at the beginning.
- Create a musical environment: this will include listening to the Suzuki CD's, other CD's of classical music or other musics, going to concerts, and listening to NPR (National Public Radio) programs with classical music. Have music on all the time, or at least during meals and before bedtime.
- Make it fun and enjoyable. Let the child be happy and loved at all times. Never make being loved contingent on whether they practice, or whether they do well.
- Use lots of praise, even for the smallest thing, and even if it sounds awful. There is always something positive to say: "You really worked hard" "That sounded pretty good" "That was much better than last time." No negative or derogatory remarks!!
- A Parent's guide to String Instrument Study, Lorraine Fink
- Suzuki Parent's Diary: Or How I Survived My First 10,000 Twinkles, Carroll Morris
- To Learn With Love: A Companion for Suzuki Parents, William and Constance Starr
- Young Musician's Survival Guide, Amy Nathan (for older children, middle school and up)
Connie Sunday: Freelance studio musician, strings and piano teacher, author of Violin FAQ and numerous essays in violin pedagogy. Further information can be found at connexions.