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5 top tips for success learning an instrument

Girl laughing with violin
Increased self-confidence, better coordination skills, more focus and general well-being... just a few of the benefits of learning to play an instrument, parents say. Follow this advice to support your child in their musical education; it will take time (years!) and patience, but the rewards for the whole family are immense.

1. Stay positive. Listening to someone practising an instrument isn’t always a pleasant experience! But try not to wince or comment when they miss a note because you could affect their confidence. They’ll also need to practise scales, which aren’t very easy on the ear, but whatever you do don’t complain about it!

2. Try to give your child some space and quiet to practise, for example in their bedroom or in the dining room with the doors closed. Often they don’t want an audience and they won’t want you singing along either. Keep practice time short e.g. 20 minutes, so they don’t get too tired. Don’t forget rewards can work as an incentive.

3. Don’t force practice. This can be really off-putting, especially if your child knows their friends and siblings are having fun elsewhere. Accept that some days your child will be feeling tired or under the weather and really won’t feel like practising. Agree they can have a day off now and again so they don’t feel too pressured.

4. However discordant your child’s musical efforts may sound, remember to praise them for the effort they put in, even if they are in the early stages of learning and can’t produce much of a tune yet. It’s easy to lose confidence when learning an instrument so it helps if you can be very generous with your encouragement.

5. Don’t focus too much on exams. While it’s rewarding for you and your child to progress up the grade levels, playing an instrument is about far more than that. Music exams can be pressured and it’s important only to enter your child into exams when they’re ready. They can re-take if they fail but it helps them stay confident if they only do exams when they feel prepared.

Help with the cost of musical education

If the cost of providing an instrument for your child is preventing them from taking up music, consider the brilliant Take it away scheme, an Arts Council England initiative to encourage more people to get involved in learning and playing music by providing interest free loans for the purchase of musical instruments.

Take it away allows parents to apply for an interest-free loan between £100 and £5,000 for the purchase of any kind of instrument and spread the cost over nine or 18 monthly repayments with a 10% deposit at the point of sale.

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