Oh summer! How I miss those lazy summer when I was a kid ….
……staying outside till the lamp posts went on, suntanning (ahem freckling), running after the ice cream truck, selling lemonade at the curb, and running through the hose.
It also meant that since I wasn’t in school that my mother felt that it was an opportunity for me to practice the piano more. Being a daughter of a piano teacher meant that I had no choice in the matter. Thinking back though, she was totally on key (yes I made a pun) it meant that I could often do two music grades in one year.
How do you ask, did she motivate me to actually practice? Here’s some great things that she did!
1. We had a set schedule so we knew what was happening, mornings before breakfast was time to practice. She would always wake me up early (and I wasn’t a morning person then either) and would set the timer on stove for the full length of my practice. It was a good way to make sure we got our full practice in without her checking the clock and it was satisfying for us to hear the timer go off. She would also sit in the room with me to make sure I did everything (remember she taught me so I couldn’t make an excuses lol)
2. Rewards were always in place … afternoons were fun trips to 2nd Beach’s pool, or Splash Down Park (Did you hear it’s closing so sad), shopping at Graville Island, or the Zoo (it was cool back then). We always knew that we were doing something in the afternoon. Even if it was raining, we’d go to the pool at the community centre. We wanted to get up to practice cause it meant that we’d get to do something cool.She’s always say,”if you don’t practice – we’re not going anywhere.” And trust me, we didn’t if we didn’t practice.
3. She would find cool free concerts in parks for us to go check out as well as part of the reward system. It was a great way for us to keep us motivated to practice. I especially remember one concert in some park, where there was a singer/pianist who motivated me to want to practice. The lower mainland is full of free outdoor concerts with awesome musicians.
4. Now, the tough part — was I always a good kid and practice? No lol not at all, I’d rather be playing outside. Did I sometimes fight her? Yes o’course! I didn’t like to wake up early, and I liked to find all sorts of excuses not to practice. Probably why my students’ tell me there’s no use to give me excuses cause I always know lol I was so good at it as a kid. She didn’t give me any choice, and the old saying of, ‘wait till your father gets home’ always terrified me. I remember overhearing her talk to many of her students’ parents advising them that it’s ok to be the bad guy with your kids. “You are not your child’s friend,” I’d remember her saying: “sometimes they won’t like you but it’s ok, cause when they turn 30 – they’ll remember and love you all the more! It’s kinda like brushing teeth, no matter how much they don’t want to do it, you make them because you don’t want the dental bills and you want them to have pretty smiles” Guess what Mom? You were completely right! Many times, I remember thinking (especially as a teen) that my mom was utterly uncool and totally unfair and mean but her forcing me to put in that extra practice in the summer meant that I am where I am today! Thank you Mom! XO So don’t be afraid as a parent to lay down the law with your child and just force them to practice, they’ll understand later. Remember the frontal lob isn’t fully developed till about 25 so kids don’t always see things clearly anyhow, so don’t feel bad.
So good luck to all the parents out there trying to help their children find success!