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Helping Your Child with Band Homework

You may be thinking “How can I help my child with practice?  I have zero music knowledge or ability”.  The good news is that you can still help your child with practice at home even if you have no musical training at all.  This has been proven with the Suzuki method for teaching violin where the parent learns along with the child and they practice together.  Now, you do not have to go rent another band instrument and learn to play along with your child to help with band homework.  You can begin simply by providing a consistent practice routine for your child.  Set a specific time every day dedicated to instrument practice.  Many parents have found that a routine of homework – instrument practice – dinner – free time works well.

Asking your child about his band assignments to start a short discussion will help you begin to understand what he/she should accomplish in their practice session.  Allow your child to teach you about what he/she is learning in band class.  You may be surprised at how much you can learn from your child’s instruction.  Talk to your child about a practice plan by asking your child what the band director said to practice that day.  If your child says: “I have to practice lines 28, 29 and 31”.  Ask about a plan to practice those lines until they are mastered.   Especially with today’s video games and other means for instant gratification, children often have an unrealistic expectation of how much work it takes to master the performance of a musical line.  For example, I have polled children in my classes to ask “How many times do you have to practice ‘number 29’ before it is 95% correct”.  Most of the time, I will hear a number somewhere between two to five times.  Most experts agree that a child would have to have the IQ level of Albert Einstein to meet that expectation!!!  A more realistic idea the repetition necessary for mastery can be found in the following ranges:

  • Normal IQ range – 40-75 repetitions
  • Above average – 25-40 repetitions
  • Below average – more than 75 repetitions

Now, this is not a hard and fast rule since some musical lines are easy and others are hard. And, these ranges are in no way meant to judge a child’s IQ score. So, if your child takes over 100 times to master a particular line, that does not mean you should rush out and sign him/her up for remedial courses!!!  But, this will simply give you and your child the idea that it takes more than playing a musical line a couple of times to really master an assignment.

One last thing:  It is up to you as the parent to be firm regarding daily practice.  One of the greatest gifts you can give you child is to teach him/her to give the best effort possible towards any life skill so that there will be no regrets.  Many times, as adults, we often wish that our parent made us practice.  We think: “What if I had practiced more consistently when I was a child?  I could have really enjoyed playing an instrument now that I am older.

Help your child develop good practice habits by being firm and consistent.  You will have given your child a great gift indeed!