More Ways to Motivate Your Kids To Practice

Image of a little girl playing piano

Motivate her to practice!

As a follow-up to my recent article, How to Motivate Your Kids to Practice Their Instrument, I thought it would be helpful to post some additional readings on the subject by other teachers.  After all, and unfortunately, this seems to be one of the hottest topics with most music teachers!

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How to Motivate Your Kids to Practice Their Instrument

Motivate your son to practice piano

Motivate your son to practice piano

Fact is, I don’t know any one way to motivate kids to practice, which will work on any kid. Furthermore, every other music teacher I meet is facing the same problem of motivating their kids to practice their instruments during the week. I do however, have some ideas and some insights into how different strategies have played out over time with different students and families.

Solutions that have been tested by parents and teachers include offering incentives,  or telling them that if they don’t practice, a kitten will die. But the problem remains, kids are not that easy to manipulate.  Most kids are happier to tell their parents what they want to do and when they want to do it, and many will not back down until they get it, or face punishment. I know that’s how I was!

Still, the problem remains, you see value in education and want them to be enriched by the experience of learning to play music but this can’t be done without practice.  Achieving milestones in any subject area takes hard work and dedication, and practicing an instrument CAN BE hard work for a child who is full of energy and would rather play DS.

Here are some ideas that you can try:

1) Practice with them

In my opinion, this is absolutely necessary up to the age of about 12. After age 12, this should still be practiced about half the time.  Think of it this way: You are taking piano lessons with your child. So you need to be there when they practice.


  • Don’t be bossy, but be firm when insisting that they focus. Fun is good, but you need to stop it from becoming overly silly.
  • Learn all the music too and play it along with them. You can play one hand while they play the other or just play the same part one octave away.
  • Ask them what they think could be improved upon. Some prompting may be necessary (“How was your rhythm, note accuracy, dynamic expression,
  • Have them teach the piece to you.

2) Participate in performance opportunities

When a student displays interest, but can’t seem to pass a certain practice threshold (maybe once or twice per week), this may help motivate them.  It can however, have the opposite effect on the student who is not showing any interest in practicing.


  • Participate in formal recitals though your music teacher, local festivals, competitions and through organizations.
  • Make sure that the outcome is positive. Prepare thoroughly, invite friends and family and tell your little star how proud you are!
  • Create informal recitals with friends, family and other students from your music studio or school.
  • encourage them to use their skills to improve the world we live in by raising funds for charity, creating awareness of important events or playing for the sick or elderly.

3) Use Theta Music Trainer

Almost everyone of my students plays either a DS or ipod touch games while waiting for their lesson. Video games are very engaging – even addictive! There are many online games out there, but I’ve found Theta Music Trainer to be extremely intuitive, progressive, in-depth and best of all engaging. There is a couple weeks worth of free content and for next to nothing, you can play up to 25 levels of very creative, engaging and educational ear training games.


  • Encourage your teacher to get a studio account to offer %50 off to every student.
  • Give them challenges (your teacher can actually give challenges through the teachers console).
  • Remember that music is at least half (probably more like %90) mental. When your children become comfortable with the concepts featured in the games, they will have less barriers at their instrument and may be more inclined to spend time playing the actual instrument.

4) Time Is the Only Guarantee

But it IS a guarantee. Not everyone will become Herbie Hancock or Yo-Yo Ma, but anyone, I repeat, ANYONE can learn to play an instrument at a high level. When your child struggles with subjects in school or maybe with learning the difference between right and wrong, you don’t try once and then move on. We all know that good parenting goes on and on until the job is done! Don’t forget how much and how quickly children change.  They can go through periods of being very interested or not interested at all, but if you stick with it, they will get something out of it and almost surely begin to truly enjoy what they have learned. This is one of the lessons we hope to teach through music, that hard work, dedication and PERSISTANCE pay off, even though sometimes we feel like quitting.

5) Stack the Deck

Create a musical home. Play music in the house and enjoy it! Play their music in the house and…ENJOY IT TOO! Help them to learn about the music that they are hearing. Go on Wikipedia and teach them little facts about the music that they enjoy. Take them to concerts, and let them be immersed in various styles of music performed at a high level.

And the last one for today…

6) Know Your Child’s Teacher

Remember that you are a member of a team engaged in educating your children and enriching their lives. Teams only succeed when they work together and your child’s  music lessons are no exception. I make a point of talking with every parent on a weekly basis. If your child’s teacher doesn’t make time for this, I suggest that you try talking to the teacher after lessons. If the teacher still doesn’t have 2 minutes a week, maybe the teacher is in it for the wrong reasons.


  • Know him/her by first and last name.
  • Be pleasant when interacting with him/her.
  • Don’t waste your teacher’s time by coming late for pick-up or drop off, or by rambling on when there are other students (or lunch time) scheduled,  but do expect a couple minutes after the lesson. In many cases this means ending the lesson 2 or 3 minutes early. This is okay!
  • Be open and honest about how things are at home (in relation to the lessons of course!).

I hope you’ve found these ideas useful. There is no secret formula, but if you make sure to engage yourself in the process, and give it enough time (several months or years), your child’s lessons will surely pay off.  Oh yeah and one last thing….when you’re helping your child with his music, TURN OFF YOUR IPHONE FOR CRYING OUT LOUD!!!

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