How to Help a Child Who Is Struggling With an Instrument

How to Help a Child Who Is Struggling With an Instrument

Even though musical education is very enriching for children, teaching a child how to play an instrument is not always as easy as it seems. The combination of a child's curiosity and attention deficit can make the entire process of learning an instrument problematic.

According to Lauren Hill, "...there is a direct correlation with a child's attention span and their age." Lauren states that 5-year-olds have an attention span ranging from 8-20 minutes, while 10 year-olds possess spans lasting anywhere between 20-50 minutes. This being said, it is crucial to understand that time is a cascading declivity when trying to prod your child into learning how to play their chosen instrument.

What To Do

It is also important to grasp the fact that learning an instrument is more about building healthy habits early on rather than focusing on the technical skill of how to play a B-minor chord. This is especially true given the vast attention deficit of most children. While kids are equipped with a seemingly endless pool of time, they will likely lack useful skills and habits that pertain to sustaining patience, further easing common frustrations when first picking up an instrument.

So, the first step one should take in helping a child who is finding it difficult to play an instrument is to extinguish the attention deficit. Tell your child that after 20 minutes of practice, you both will take a trip to the beach; or playfully encourage your kid that he or she can eat ice cream once he or she has nailed a new chord.

A second rule of thumb: be consistent. Whether your child practices once a day or twice a month, be intentional about the time used to practice. A useful model to follow is the Japanese dictum Kaizen. Kaizen is another word for improvement but refers more so to longevity than to intensity. This methodology is often used to short-circuit the attention deficit of adults and children alike.

So here is one way it could apply to learn an instrument such as the piano. Instead of focusing on the amount of time your child spends practicing the piano, just make sure that he or she at least sits down and plays one song every single day. After a couple weeks of doing so will turn into months of doing the same thing; your child will be building the helpful habit of making him or herself sit down with the instrument every day. This on its own is not everything. But learning an instrument is a process.

Conclusion

It's true that learning an instrument—especially for a kid—can be taxing. So break it up into smaller increments. Offer incentives such as snacks or going to a friends house. Make sure that their time to practice is consistent and productive.


References:

Overstuffed | Ten Reasons Your Child Isn't Practicing--And What You Can Do About It

Lauren Q Hill | Understanding the Attention Span of Elementary Aged Students

Purify Essential Oils | Why Children Have Focus Issues & the Best Managing Strategies
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