Kevin’s Advice to Students' Parents-

Helping your child get the most out of their lessons.

You've done the most important thing — you've signed your child up for lessons. Now, how do you make the most of your investment. Here are my suggestions.

Don't forget what we are really teaching your child:

Yes, of course we are teaching your child to play the guitar — a great skill to have — but there are more important fish to fry. We are teaching your child to focus on a single task. We are teaching your child that if they work hard at something long enough and hard enough that they will make slow progress that they will get better and reap the benefits. We are teaching them how to deal with stress, deadlines, and performance anxiety.

Music is wonderful in that it is one of the old-fassioned disciplines. We live in a world of cheap and easy solutions. We see books like Learn Italian in 5 Minute a day!. We can't really learn Italian in 5 minutes a day, but we let ourselves be fooled. Unfortunately it is all too easy to let that attitude infect everything we do, and our children pick up on that. But music doesn't work that way, and that is what is wonderful about it.

Get your child to practice, and practice correctly:

Practice is the most, most, most important thing. Get your child to sit down for a set amount of time every day. I cannot stress how important that every day is. Even on your child's busiest day, s/he can still find 5-10 minutes to do some practicing. Also, make sure that at least some of the practice is focussed and on topic. Some goofing off on the guitar is fine, but it should be in addition to "real" practicing.

Express interest in your child's progress:

Let your child know that you think what they are doing is important. If you express and interest in what they do, then they will know that they are doing something important. Ask them what they are learning.

Encourage your child to play for you:

Part of what we are teaching a child in lessons is grace in performance, dealing with stress, and dealing with performance anxiety. This will pay off if s/he ever has to give a presentation in school or the office.

Don't punish your child by taking away their guitar:

This one always amazes me. I have some parent email me say, "Johnny did poorly on his math test so he was grounded from guitar." I think that part of this is a problem of underestimating the value of lessons — they aren't just fun but are helping to develop your child's mind. Would you punish your child by taking away their vitamins? I do agree that school work should take priority over music lessons, I think that we should not cut off our nose to spite our face. Another option you can consider is to ground your child from playing the "fun" stuff and to focus only on the "boring" stuff — with kids I tend to divide the lessons into the boring stuff (the fundamentals that I push) and the fun stuff (popular songs that they want to learn.) If you let me know, I will be more than happy to reinforce this in the lesson.