| Whether you are doing a Suzuki or similar program in which the parent is deeply involved in practice, or your child is expected to practice independently, Noël’s Calmer, Easier, Happier strategies will help make practice more meaningful and more enjoyable.
Common Music Practice Problems
When music practice is not going well, parents most often report problems in the following four areas:
- Lack of cooperation: Complaining, negative attention seeking, wasting time.
- Lack of focus: Distractibility, impulsivity.
- Lack of self-reliance/self-confidence: Anxiety, learned helplessness, unrealistically high standards that may lead your child to just not try.
- Rushing through practice to get it over with.
In the Calmer, Easier, Happier Music Practice CD set, Noël Janis-Norton explains the causes of each of these and shares specific, step-by-step strategies parents can implement to improve the situation.
What you can realistically expect
When you put the Calmer, Easier, Happier skills into practice, you will see wonderful results – but not overnight. Your children and teens will become more cooperative, motivated, and self-reliant. Music practice will become enjoyable, productive and rewarding 90% of the time. You should expect that the other 10% of the time music practice will not go so smoothly. Remember that learning new habits is always a bumpy road: sometimes two steps forward, one step back. Continue to listen to the CDs, and you will be able to continuously fine-tune your skills and strategies.
It is essential that the adults in the home discuss and agree on the family approach to music practice. Be sure you know exactly what the music teacher expects and support those expectations. A unified front is important - if the parents don’t support the teacher, or if one of the parents is not “on board,” the children will perceive this, and it will be far more difficult to achieve an effective practice routine. In many families one parent takes the lead on music practice, but it is important that the other parent is also invested and supportive of whatever practice routines you’re putting in place.
Once you’ve decided what your music practice goals are, the next step is to teach and to train your child:
- Teaching is what we do to make sure our children know what and how to do what we want them to do. Sometimes parents assume that our kids are choosing not to do what they’re supposed to – when in fact we just haven’t explicitly taught them.
- Training is how we guide our children into the habit of regularly doing the behavior we want once they know how to do it. Consistency is important!
In the Calmer, Easier, Happier Music Practice CD set, Noël Janis-Norton explains exactly how parents can develop better music practice habits in their children and eliminate much of the conflict that often arises. Among the powerful strategies Noël shares are the five Foundation Skills of Calmer, Easier, Happier Parenting.
How you can use the Foundation Skills to transform music practice
Utilizing the five core skills of Calmer, Easier, Happier Parenting, families can implement specific, positive and respectful strategies to make children more willing and motivated to practice. The techniques will help your child play more accurately and practice more thoroughly. The five foundation skills can be used effectively with all children and teens, regardless of their age or developmental stage.
Although all of the foundation skills are practical and based in common sense, they are not how most of us were raised and not generally what we see other parents doing around us, so they may not seem “intuitive.” However, when you start putting them into practice, you will find they are extremely effective. Throughout the Calmer, Easier, Happier Music Practice CD set Noël Janis-Norton gives specific examples of using the various skills, and answers frequently asked parent questions, to help you become comfortable using the strategies.
The Foundation Skills Overview
- Descriptive Praise - the most powerful motivator and training tool. This specific way of praising is the opposite of how we usually praise. The result? Your child will want to listen to you and do what you ask, and it strengthens your relationship (or repairs it, in some cases) with your child
- Preparing for Success – a cluster of very specific proactive strategies that make it easier for your child to do things right, rather than reacting when things go wrong. The result? Most misbehavior is prevented and kids develop the habits you want.
- Reflective Listening – an almost magical way of responding when our children or teens are upset or frustrated (including tantrums, whining, complaining or any strong emotion). Noel breaks down this effective strategy into four steps that are easy to understand and easy to use. The result? It defuses any strong feelings so that children and teens get upset and frustrated less and get over it faster.
- Never Ask Twice – a powerful and simple 6-step strategy to help children transition easily from one activity to the next. This method is so effective that usually you only need the first 3 steps! The result? You won’t have to ask twice because your children will cooperate the first time you ask.
- Consequences and Rewards that Work – Unlike the punitive “consequences” we tend to think of, an Action Replay is an example of a consequence that is positive and strongly reinforces the child’s learning the right thing to do. Rewards can be especially useful in overcoming a child’s resistance to learning a new routine. Many parents are concerned that children will become “hooked” on extrinsic rewards. Noël explains how to avoid this. You may be tempted to skip right to the “Consequences and Rewards” section of the CDs, but don’t! In fact, you’ll be surprised to find that the more you use the first four foundation skills, the less you will need rewards and consequences.
You will find these five skills valuable not just for music practice, but in many areas of family life. Noël Janis-Norton has produced a Foundational Skills CD series explaining each one in depth and giving many examples of their use to help you make other aspects of parenting calmer, easier and happier.
The Calmer, Easier, Happier Music Practice CD set also includes a “Parent Questions & Answers” section – Noël responds to questions including:
- What should I look for when I’m choosing a music teacher?
- My teenager wants to switch to another instrument – I think because it’s what her best friend plays. What should we say?
- How long are we going to have to supervise music practice?
In the final section of the CD set you’ll hear three parents and one violin teacher describe how they have used the Calmer, Easier, Happier strategies for their children and students. The concepts will become even more clear to you when you hear how others have used the strategies in various situations.
>> Buy the Calmer, Easier, Happier Music Practice CD set here.