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How to Get Your Music Students to Practice at Home

By Marta Hansen

It is often difficult for private music instructors to help their students progress in their skills when they do not practice at home as well. In order for a student to steadily improve on his instrument, he must practice at home to reinforce skills learned in lessons. The best way to motivate students to practice at home is to find ways to engage them in their lessons. This will carry over to home practice.

Encourage students in their lessons. When a student is given positive reinforcement and feels she is improving, she will want to continue to improve. This will carry over and motivate her to practice at home.

Make it fun. Children learn when they're enjoying what they're doing. Pick songs that are interesting and enjoyable while still challenging for them. If they learn a song that they like and are possibly familiar with, they are more likely to play it at home as well.

Give incentives. Students have their favorite parts of a lesson. Often it's playing duets, or playing their favorite song. Tell students that if they practice a certain amount, then they will get to do some sort of fun activity at their next lesson. If the activity is learning based, then students are still learning regardless of the added activity.

Send a "practice sheet" home after every lesson. Be sure to put the date, page numbers, measure numbers and anything else that students need to practice. Then they can refer back to this sheet each week and know exactly what they should be working on. This also helps parents know where their children are in their books.

Get the parents involved. This is the most important step. Email or call students' parents every once in a while to update them on lesson progress. This will encourage the parents to stay involved and make sure their children continue to practice. Also, many parents don't know how long their children should be practicing. Be sure to discuss this with each parent and revisit the topic every once in a while.