How You Can Help Your Child Practice

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Any parent of a music student wants his/her child to succeed.  You may be wondering, is there anything I can do to help my child become a better musician?  The answer is YES. In order for your child to make acceptable progress, he/she must practice regularly throughout the week.  It doesn’t take long, but it must be regular.  The director is only one person, and your child can’t do it alone.  YOU, the parent, must be directly involved in helping them establish a daily routine for school work and practice.

Too many activities

Is your child involved in too many things outside of school?  When my children were in grade school, I narrowed their activities down to only one or two things.  I found that neither they, nor I, could handle all of the activities and still do well enough to be successful at all of them.  They had to choose ONE activity outside of school.  This still meant that school was their main priority.  I had a student last year failing my class along with three or four other classes.  He said “Mr. Matthews, I just don’t have time to do my schoolwork.”  He then went on to explain his seven days a week after-school activities!  How did we get here in this society?  Think back to your childhood – how many activities were YOU involved in?

The benefits of practicing music
A brand new study came out last year by the Florida Department of Education which shows that the more involved kids are in music, the higher they are on all parts of standardized testing from elementary through college.  Additionally, they are more likely to adjust better to social skills, have better attendance at school and are more likely to be all-around better students.  I challenge you to go to this website and read the results of the study. This study extended across all boundaries regardless of race, economics, gender and age.

Many music programs have students who are not practicing on a regular basis and we are hearing students in classes who are not able to keep up with the class average.   Every parent and student desires to be in a successful and vibrant program.  We all want winners, yet are we really taking the steps at home to ensure that this is happening?

Help offered for your child
Do you really know what is offered in your child’s music program?  We personally have great teaching going on in the class room every day.  Our program has mentoring lessons every Tuesday after school throughout the first semester.  We have an incentive program where your child can receive external rewards for practicing and passing items off from their method books.  We open up the band room each day for students to come in and practice – this is especially great for the students with large instruments who cannot take their instruments home regularly.  We have student help sessions with the director each Thursday before or after school.  Every student has a CD of their books to practice along with and he/she can use them on the computer as well.  We encourage private lessons.  Advanced band members have weekly master classes before school.  We encourage all students to participate in Solo & Ensemble events as well as bands attending Music Performance Assessments where they are adjudicated (judged) by professionals.

So what is the missing link?
Regularly scheduled practice by the student that is being monitored by you – the parent.  This is what will bring success to your child.  Without this, the director is doing all of the work.   Please consider helping your child by:

  1. Scheduling a regular daily time to practice for about 15-30 minutes.
  2. Have a place for him/her to practice which is comfortable, well-lit, and free from distractions.
  3. Provide him/her the necessary supplies such as reeds, valve oil, etc.
  4. Encourage him/her to work on their pass-offs from his/her provided Level Sheets (The Achievement System – Jim Matthews).
  5. Encourage him/her to practice along with his/her CD, computer, or a friend.
  6. Encourage him/her to take mentoring or private lessons (especially if he/she is struggling.)
  7. Encourage him/her to play for YOU.  He/she needs your attention on a regular basis towards schoolwork.  If children are not monitored, they won’t work.  That is just human nature.

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Jim Matthews

About Jim Matthews

Jim Matthews is a veteran band director of 30 years at Jackson Middle School in Titusville, FL. He received his Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree from Florida State University. His bands continuously receive superior ratings at band festivals. The bands have received the Florida Bandmaster’s Association Five, Ten, Fifteen, Twenty and Twenty-five Year Superior Awards for continuous Superior ratings. He is presently the Brevard County Music Instructional Coach for all secondary band directors. He is a member of Florida Bandmaster’s Association, Music Educator’s National Conference and Phi Beta Mu – an International Honorary Band Director’s Fraternity. He is also a National Board Certified Teacher in music. For more information, see the About section.

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