Little beginners are so much fun to teach! They are excited to be there, and have an unlimited amount of enthusiasm to give. They are used to learning new things, in fact it is what they are programmed for. Parents can do a huge amount to foster this enthusiasm, and get the child off to a good start. Here are some examples of how parents can best use their time and attention:
#1. Parents do NOT have to understand music to be of help!! I can’t emphasize this more strongly.
#2. Establishing a time of day to practice helps greatly, and if yours is a chaotic household where this is difficult, often before school in the morning works when no other time seems to.
#3. Be positive! Nothing will bring a child down more quickly than negative comments.
#4. If you can sit with/oversee/sit near your child while they are practicing to offer comments of encouragement along the way, that is of tremendous help. Children naturally like to show off the new and exciting (to them) things they are doing to their parents. This can certainly be multi-tasked with other things if necessary.
#5. Reading the book the teacher writes in, although number five on this list, is almost number ONE on my mental list! Just to read through and make sure the child is covering the material asked for. And if you don’t know what it is, ask the child if he or she has done XYZ. If you ask them, you will find out if they know what it is or not, and they do love to be able to tell you things you don’t know!
#6. Expect that they will go at their own speed. Everyone’s learning speed is different. Regular practice is the surest way to competence and a feeling of intrinsic satisfaction with making music.
#7. Little “concerts” for grandma, siblings, visitors etc. will do much to increase your little musician’s confidence and also get them used to playing for others. Most children really enjoy this.
I think the overall message is make it important. If your child knows it’s important to you, it will be important to him or her. And the sooner that happens, they sooner they will be playing for the intrinsic joy and satisfaction that it can bring!