"Mom, I don't want to go to lessons (or practise) anymore!"
Sound familiar? It's actually more common than you think! Most people assume that their child should like their lessons or enjoy practising on their instrument every second of every day. Once their motivation starts to "dip" parents are seemingly all too eager to stop their child's lessons. We then see these "students" as adults and too many times we hear "I took piano lessons for 2 years and then "my parents let me quit".
There is a natural ebb and flow to anyone's learning. There are some important steps to ensuring your child has a long and productive music learning experience. Before you get to your first lesson take the following steps:
1.) Get an instrument that is appropriate! (IE size, shape etc.) For guitar the most common mistake is for parents to get a full-size acoustic. Generally acoustic guitars are much more physically demanding to play than their electric counterparts. If your child wants to "rock" and you give them an acoustic guitar that's too big and "hurts" to play you are dooming your child's lessons right from the start.
2.) Find a reputable music teacher/organization that you and your child will feel comfortable with.
Once you've started lessons, you now have a Parent-student-teacher relationship. As a parent you have to be actively involved in conversations with the teacher and your child on a regular basis. Your teacher should direct you on what the homework was and how much your child should practise.
Even with all of this in place, your child will still go through peaks and valleys of motivation. For the first two years you will see wild swings as your child starts to become proficient on the instrument! Is your child going to like to practise? Not always! Does your child like hockey, soccer, baseball etc. practise? Most times the answer is "no". What's the best part about sports practises for kids? Usually the "scrimmage" at the end.
Not only is it important to set-up a regular practise routine for the students in terms of times/days etc, but also what content is covered in the 10, 15, 20 minutes of practise time. You always want to structure the practise for time at the end to just "play"; wether it's their favourite song they've played 100 times, or just goofing around. Giving them the opportunity to "enjoy" their instrument is equally as important in ensuring they learn the scales, pieces etc.
When your child starts indicating he/she doesn't want to go to lessons or doesn't want to practise, that's when as a parent you need to step-in and talk about these concerns with the teacher. Have the lessons become too hard? Have they focused on the same piece for too many weeks in a row? Are the homework assignments to dry? Whatever it is, your teacher should be able to "alter" their lesson plan to re-engage your child! Remember, the teacher only sees the student for 30mins to an hour once a week. You as a parent see your child everyday!