Keeping my young harpist motivated

Posted In: Young Harpists

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    MusicMom on #165784

    I’m new to both music and the board, but find this such a welcoming group. I hope my question is posted in the right place!

    My daughter requested to play the harp at 6 years old after seeing and hearing a harp on a Baby Einstein video when she was younger. I tried to encourage her to take piano lessons first, but she absolutely insisted on playing the harp. So here we are, a non-musically inclined mom and a just-turned 7 year old with a few months of lessons under our belts.

    During weekly 30 minutes lessons, she is totally engaged and does everything her teacher asks her to do. She even has a smile on her face the entire time, so I know she is enjoying herself. Practicing at home is a whole other matter. Most times she is willing to practice, but somehow we both end up frustrated by the end. I don’t think I am being too hard on her, but I try to help her practice a piece more than once. I don’t see myself as doing anything different than what her teacher asks her to do, but of course it’s different.

    Any suggestions to make practice sessions at home go a little smoother and keep her motivated? She tried to quit at one point, but I really think she said it out of frustration. (After a great lesson with her teacher, she enthusiastically said she wanted to keep playing.) Since she initially requested to play and otherwise seems to enjoy it, I want this to be as fun as possible with the hopes that she will stick with it.

    unknown-user on #165785

    I never practiced without my parents making me until maybe 12 years old, and even at that I did not practice for more than an hour a day, if that.

    I can only remember one time my parents ever actually practiced with me, and that was my mother trying to work with me to learn to read music after my very first lesson. That was a headache, though, since she didn’t really know either!

    At some point my parents just started setting a timer, and I had to practice for the entire duration. You would think that this would result in poor practicing, but my teacher was sufficiently strict enough that I felt it was in my best self interest to practice as she instructed (and therefore please her). My parents were never particularly good at the “motivate” school of thought and more in the “just do it” camp, so I’m not sure if that’s a helpful or appealing suggestion.

    One benefit is that it allows the student to take the instruction as seriously as he or she wants. You’d probably be surprised how much progress your daughter would make by herself if you just required her to play for a certain duration rather than specifically coaching her through it – she’ll practice the parts she doesn’t like or that are hard when she’s mentally ready (granted, she might need some prodding, but she’ll probably do more on her own than you expected). I think most music students have a natural tendency to better their playing without external urging, but especially with younger students, they may just need to play around on the instrument by themselves for 15 minutes or so. Once they’re bored with that, they’ll move on to the music as long as someone makes sure they continue practicing. I’m still this way too, sometimes (except I continue on my own)!

    I too almost quit – probably twice – during middle school (the beginning and end, I believe) but it was really just due to disinterest in the material I was learning. Once I found music that I really wanted to play, I started practicing like a fiend and now I’m studying in a conservatory.


    Philippa mcauliffe on #165786

    Loves the lessons and willing to do her practice is a very good start.

    MusicMom on #165787

    Thank you both for your great suggestions. She does still need a lot of help at 7 years old, but we might try letting her warm up on her own to lighten things up.

    Georgina, you gave a lot of great suggestions that suit her age and personality. I will also check out the book you mentioned.

    Thank you both so much!

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