2 Effective Methods for Motivating Your Child to Practice Music

If you have a child and want to motivate them to practice music more (or play an instrument at all), you’re not alone.

Speaking from my experience as a top music teacher, it’s almost inevitable that your child will (1) tell you they don’t want to go to lessons or (2) say they want to quit.

So in this short guide, I’m going to show you two proven strategies to work through that. Without forcing. Let’s get started.

The Monopoly Method

monopoly-method

Just about everyone has a Monopoly board at home, but for many of us it gathers dust in a game room as we play online.

The Monopoly Method helps you put that game to good use by using the paper currency.

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First, spend some time online with your child figuring out what toys they REALLY want. I just browsed Amazon with my son.

Now, you’re probably thinking to yourself:

But I already KNOW what my child wants. They tell me every day!

And you would certainly be right. But the goal of the Monopoly Method is to help your child identify the toy for themselves.

When they point out what they want and identify it, this helps you leverage your parental influence and draw on commitment bias later on.

Next, it’s time to take out the Monopoly money from the game board and place it in a bank of your own. I just use a Ziploc bag, but there are probably more sophisticated options :)

Finally, you will want to find a bank for your child. This doesn’t have to be a piggy bank. You can use a small jewellery box too.

jewelery-box

Step #1: Activate Uncle Pennybags

Once you have your piggy bank and your child’s piggy bank set up, you’re ready to launch your own Monopoly Method.

Place $20 Monopoly money in your child’s bank and you’re ready to go.

Here is the script:

Hey [YOUR CHILD’S NAME], I have a plan to help you get [NAME THE TOY]. Once you earn $200, you will have it!

Here is your bank where you can save money towards your toy.

[GIVE YOUR CHILD THE BANK]

How much money do you have in it now?

[CHILD COUNTS THE MONEY]

You can earn $20 more every day by practicing your instrument for 30 minutes.

Now, a couple caveats.

  1. The practice time doesn’t matter. The more important goal is that they learn how to make meaningful progress. If it takes them 40 minutes, that’s fine. If it takes 20 minutes, even better. Either way, studies show kids need structure more than anything.
  2. The price for the toy is up to you. Once your child gets their first toy, they might want expensive toys. For example, if my son wants a $90 toy, I’m going to charge $600 in Monopoly money, not $200.
  3. Practice payouts should vary depending on how much time is wasted. Also, earned money can be used to pay for extra screen time, which will help them think critically about their goals.

Now that you’ve mastered the Monopoly Method, let’s move on to the next method for helping your child practice more.

The Godzilla Method

godzilla-method

Not every child is going to love Godzilla, but every child has a Godzilla. For some kids, it’s a doll. Others might prefer Legos or something pink.

The trick here is to identify some music associated with that toy. For my son, his obsession with the latest Godzilla movie has led to singing the theme song over and over again.

Apparently the Blue Oyster Cult recorded this song in 1977 and I had no idea.

Despite the fact that I officially hate this song for having heard it 1,257,958,163 times, I’ve come to realize that this is his passion for now.

What’s the bottom line with the Godzilla Method?

Find your child’s passion and put it to good use.

And Now, The Actual Plan

  1. If you haven’t found it already, make a YouTube search for the music theme your child associates with their toy.
    1. Here are some search strings you can use to find the relevant song:
      1. [YOUR TOY] song
      2. [YOUR TOY] theme
      3. [YOUR TOY] theme song
    2. Play the song over and over, then make the experience real.
      1. Maybe it’s a theme park, a movie theater, or even a live concert. Whatever the source of entertainment, make it a part of a special experience that overwhelms their senses.
    3. Ask your child’s music teacher for help notating the music or buying it to integrate into your child’s practice routine.
      1. Many of the songs we hear on the radio don’t transfer easily to the beginner level. Your teacher should be able to break the song down according to your child’s current abilities.

child-music

When we can make work fun by integrating it with our children’s passions, then we stand a greater chance of making the experience something they will accept.

Results? WAY More Practice Time

Using this method I was able to leverage my son’s obsession with Godzilla  to practice his instrument 3 hours a week in spite of his Nintendo Switch and focus on Roblox. He sings the Godzilla theme song. He actually will spontaneously practice guitar on his own and has made great progress in his technique (he’s 6). And… he’s got a couple more Godzilla toys lately.

child-piano

I’m not going to lie to you:

He doesn’t wake up in the morning begging to practice his instrument. But we don’t have to force him to play it either. And he feels like he’s in control of the process.

That’s it for my guide to making your child actually want to practice their instrument.

With the Monopoly and Godzilla methods, you’ve learned to give a music experience that makes your child accept practicing as part of their daily routine.

And unlike forcing them, both of you can feel good about it.

Now I want to turn it over to you: what do you think about these methods? Or maybe there’s something you can add to build onto this.

Let me know by leaving a comment below.

Author:

Jacob is the learning-obsessed co-founder of StudyGate, a tutoring platform for college students trying to get through Gen Eds and pass their STEM classes. Why so obsessed? Well his skills on the saxophone have nothing to do with it (OK maybe a little). It’s because StudyGate provides insanely practical help that students like you can use to start getting better grades.

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