Recently while I was reading an article published by Forbes "6 Ways to Develop the Self-Discipline Necessary to Reach Your Goals", I made a little discovery: five of the six tips and challenges they discuss we face every day that we practice our instruments. But I will continue that in a moment.
For all the wonderful qualities our children possess self-discipline is not one of them. It is something that must be taught and experienced in repetition to be developed. The study of music is an inspirational way to introduce self-discipline to your children, but it is not an easy road for all. Students will need consistency and support from their family and teacher every step of the way. Now, back to Forbes. Here are the five tips that stuck out as very true to studying music. The explanations to follow are our own inspired by Forbes headlines in bold.
Establish a Clear Plan
At the helm of this task is the teacher. At each lesson it is beneficial for teachers to have students keep a journal of their assignments and provide more detailed instruction for goals. Some pieces may require learning only so much in a week, others many only need minor tweaking while another piece could be all about certain techniques. Having a weekly defined list of expectations is a great way to have a regular plan. Teachers may also create semester goals such as learning a certain number of chords, increase breath control, or moving one hand while another is still playing. If you want to help you child develop self-discipline, have a discussion with their teacher to create a clear plan.
Remove the Temptations When Necessary
This is rather self explanatory. The less distractions that are present during practice and lessons the better. No family, no friends, no pets, and no screens should be present or playing in the background when a student is doing their work. Selecting a regular time for practice is very useful. A child who always has "screen time" right after school is going to be very resentful if that gets interrupted because suddenly mom or dad has decided it's practice time. Come to an agreement with your child about setting a good time, daily if possible, for practicing.
Practice Tolerating Emotional Discomfort
Doing something you don't feel like doing is unfun for all ages. For young students, offering breaks during practice can help them get through it more peacefully on days when they plain out don't want to practice. Keep watch on our blog for an upcoming "Practicing Tips" post, but as a preview, suggestion is to have students play their assignments a number of times instead of by minutes. This applies more to young students or beginners but can work for any age or level. Decide how many times a student should play each piece (lets say two). The student then has more control of the situation, as opposed to practicing for thirty minutes, which leaves them stalking the wall clock instead of doing their studies.
Visualize the Long-Term Rewards
One of the many benefits of learning music is playing the music you want to play. Often this is not so attainable to a beginner student, but having the goal that one day soon they can play the music from Trolls, 21 Pilots, or The Greatest Showman will keep them motivated to learn more.
Recover From Mistakes Effectively
Possibly the biggest and most unrecognized benefit of studying music is learning to live through mistakes. To know it is okay when they occur, that everyone does them, and how to keep moving right through them. We have seen students with deep anxieties about making a single error and peppering their lessons with self deprecating speech to over time laughing whenever a mistake occurs or ignoring it entirely and continuing with their task. While having musically accomplished students is a dream for teachers, seeing students grow into confident resilient individuals is our greatest reward.