“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”
Hearing your child play a musical instrument is every parent’s dream. Getting him/her to practice, however, can be a nightmare if you don’t have a plan. That’s why I put together five scientifically proven tips to help your child develop the guitar practice habit without all the stress and drama.
1. Commit to a Guitar Practice Schedule
Set a consistent time each day for your child to practice the guitar. It doesn’t matter if it’s in the morning or before bedtime, so long as it’s consistent.
2. Start Small
Change is hard. Big changes are even harder because they sap our willpower and initiate our fight or flight response. Instead, start with small changes. If you want your child to practice the guitar every day for 20-minutes, then your child should start with a two or three-minute practice session. Over time, you can add a minute or two to each practice session until you reach your target.
3. Find Their Triggers
In the Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg explains at the core of every habit is the same neurological loop: The Habit Loop, which consists of a cue, a routine, and a reward.
The Cue: This is the trigger that tells your brain to go into automatic mode and which habit to use.
The Routine: This is the behavior itself.
The Reward: This is the motivation behind the habit.
Leaving the guitar in plain sight is a great cue. Every time your child sees her guitar in its stand, she will experience a cue triggering the practice habit.
Don’t stop there, however. The more cues, the easier it is to establish the habit. This is another reason why establishing a consistent practice routine is so powerful. With a consistent practice routine, the action before the practice session is the cue for the practice routine.
In other words, “After EXISTING HABIT, my child will immediately NEW HABIT.
For example, “After dinnertime, my child will immediately practice the guitar.
4. Reward Your Child
A compliment, a hug, or a piece of chocolate after a practice session is a great way to establish the guitar practice habit, especially in the beginning.
5. Celebrate Achievement
Remember, learning to play the guitar is hard work. If your daughter is working through Rock Dojo: The Complete Belt System, praise her whenever she earns a stripe and celebrate when she earns a new belt color. Since it takes most students 3–6 months of consistent and deliberate effort to graduate from one belt level to the next, this is the perfect time to reward your child for her effort and reinforce the connection between hard work and success.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Brian Parham is the founder of the Rock Dojo in Portland, Oregon, where he teaches hundreds of kids between the ages of 6 and 12 years-old to play, perform, and compose their own original music on the guitar in after-school group guitar lessons. He’s also the author of three guitar method books including Guitar for Kids: Rock Dojo The Complete Belt System.