Hey all, so this is part 2 of my last blog post where spoke about how parental support can boost a student’s development. I’ll also share examples of some parent/student teams that have resulted in some amazing progress.
Kids soak up the traits and behaviours of their parents more than we think. It’s important to realise, as adults we are always under the spotlight, not to put pressure on you, ha! I’m not a parent, however I do totally understand how hard it is to be one especially when we must juggle so much in our daily lives. So here I am to drop some pointers on how you can help your young one flourish with their drumming or any other musical instrument.
- Help your children get set up to be able to effectively practise. If noise is an issue organise a drum kit which is quiet, i.e. With drum mutes, mesh heads or opt for an electronic kit. This also includes sourcing a comfy drum stool and music stand.
- Sort out a way for them to learn, hiring a drum teacher is your best bet. YouTube drum videos could help and there are some good beginner drum books available however a great and proven teacher is still the best starting point. I also happen to know a teacher who might fit the bill. Ha… Ha.. Haa…
- Instil the importance of practise, revision, and discipline. This means it starts with you. Children look to us for everything so if we’re explaining the importance of discipline, but our actions contradict that then the child will pick up on that. You want to be able to genuinely walk the talk. Same goes for picking a teacher, you want a teacher who practise what they preach. You wouldn’t hire and listen to a personal trainer who is obese would you?
- Controlling screen time. This is by far the biggest challenge with kids today. Once my student was late for his lesson because he was throwing a tantrum for having to leave an iPad party, the mum had struggled to get him to leave the party. You heard that right people! An iPad Party! I’m an avid video gamer, I always have been. I remember my parents being strict with how much I played games, and I do remember it being like that with other families as well. I don’t think it was so much of an issue back then, growing up in the 90s. These days are different however, everyone is glued to their phones and tablets, we’re all guilty of it, how often do you mindlessly scroll Facebook or other social media apps and wonder where the last 2 hours went? Whether you’re stalking and judging your in laws Facebook posts or replying to work emails your child is probably watching you glued to this productivity killing machine and wondering why it’s so engaging and entrancing. Before you know it, your kid will be screaming the house down because they’re being told to give the iPad a break. My point is limit screen time and try not to get caught being zombified by the Facebook newsfeed, remember your kid is always watching. Alternatively, you could try explaining that you’re doing work things but that never works, they know the truth, hahaha!
- Balance and being efficient. Everything in moderation. Kids are kids and need to enjoy growing up, having fun, playing games, playing with toys, playing with friends in the street etc. However, if you’re investing time and money into your child’s drumming, you should explain this financial and time investment to them and explain priorities and balance. Yes, a kid must have their fun, however priorities need to be established also, it’s a great life skill. Sometimes I just want to play video games all day, sometimes I feel I’ve worked hard enough to earn it. And I have fulfilled this desire multiple times but while it seems like a great idea at the time, I end up feeling very unsatisfied at the end of my gaming marathon. So, I realised for me to feel my best I need balanced days where my priorities are in order. I must work out, meditate, practise drums, work on my business and do all the productive things, and THEN if I have time to game, I appreciate it so much more. Another challenge I’ve found pertaining to this element is that, often kids have confessed that just getting to the drum kit is a challenge when they have so many other things demanding their attention, however once they get to the drum kit and pick up the sticks, they are having fun. The thought of practising can feel like a big hurdle and the 10-20 mins of prescribed practise can also be perceived as feeling like hours. As a kid it’s hard to understand this but we can only try! I can relate, I put off cutting the lawn because in my head it’s a 2-hour activity where I could be using that “2 hours” to practise. But, once I’ve mowed the front and back yard and realise it only took me 40 minutes, I feel foolish. So, I’ve been more empathetic to students and try to explain this when we start facing these challenges.
- Over committing. This one is huge. I sort of feel sorry for kids these days. I grew up in such a simple time. I remember my life commitments being, school, weekend soccer and piano. These days kids have so many commitments. To paint a picture one student of mine had this on her plate; School, gymnastics, school band, private drum lessons, netball, after school tutoring and she was learning the ukulele as well. How is a kid meant to be able to excel when they’re so spread thin? This ties in with balance. The kid ends up being over worked, and when do they get to just have fun and be a kid?! As resilient and energetic as these kids are, their progress is compromised because they’re spread so thin. Maybe this could be a great skill for later? Maybe not? But I just know now that these kids get tired early through the term and teaching them gets challenging. After their holidays they come back energised and do well only to run out of steam by the time we get to week 5 of the school term. It is amazing that parents can provide all this stimulation for their children, but I wonder how much is too much?
- Getting engaged with your children’s drum lessons can be highly beneficial, treating your child’s drumming journey like a fun bonding activity can really keep them engaged and having fun. Sit in with the lessons, you’ll learn as well and probably develop a love and appreciation for drumming. This can only get even better if you sit with them during their practise sessions and even try competing with them or at least show a genuine interest. Play games with them and make it more than just learning an instrument. After all we gravitate to the drums in the first place to have fun. It’s not like learning bass guitar. Jokes I love bass players more than guitarists.
I hope the above points inspire you to go above and beyond in support of your kid’s drumming journey, those points would not be possible if it weren’t for my own students and their incredible parents. Below are a few of the many scenarios I’ve experienced which I’d love to share.
I started teaching a 5 yr old girl whose mum was a musician. Early on practise was happening and things were great, but soon after things like school, sports, iPad etc get in the way. Practise started tapering off and lessons ended up being more tailored to fun to keep her engaged and I adopted my teaching approach to suit her needs, which was fine as my goal is to get someone playing as much as possible. Things changed when the mum started sitting down with my student for supervised practise several times a week. Her development started to sky rocket, my student was rapidly getting better and she was starting to also pick songs to play along to. She really got into it, I still teach her now and she is getting really good!
A boy I teach had gotten onto the snare drum in the primary school band. His mum organised lessons with me to help him with his school stuff. This boy in particular was probably a bit young to have formed his own taste in music, so he was really only limited to hearing the school band material and whatever was on the radio during car trips to school. So, I class this as not knowing his “why”. He was too young to have a passion for drums despite being drawn to it. As he started developing the fundamentals, I started to bring in more music, I needed to work with him to find his “why”. For me, the “why” for him was to start finding his musical identity. His mum and I both encouraged him to listen to more music and she was nurturing this by showing him more music, taking him to concerts, getting him to watch music related movies. Long story short we’re playing lots of Queen and Imagine Dragons’ songs currently!
This family has set some solid behavioural foundations in my student. The father is a sportsman and the mother, a proven musician. So, although the parents can’t help specifically with drumming, they have instilled the discipline and realisation of how important practise is. As a result, this kid is excelling and progressing lightning fast due to a disciplined and regular practise routine built on a strong foundation. Practise is just apart of the life routine now, there’s no need to question or plan it, it just happens regularly. He is also old enough to be inspired by songs and want to become a better drummer so that helps a lot!
In this next scenario, this kid loves his gaming a little too much that he forgets to practise. However, his father is a guitarist. His parents help a lot by reminding him to practise before and after school. The dad goes one step further and creates opportunities for them to jam together, over time practising became a part of the routine for this student and now he actively searches for songs to learn that he and his dad can play together, which is super awesome to see.
This next family has no musical background however the father sits in with our lessons. He often does his work in the same room I teach his boy so that way he can get an idea of what we’re doing. Sometimes I catch him tapping away to the music we’re playing which is awesome! At the end of the lesson he confirms what he overheard so then he can compare his observations with what his son does in their practise sessions together. So, the father sits with my student through most of his practise sessions and supervises to make sure he is on the right track. The support and reaffirming words push this kid forward leaving me amazed at his progression.
In this last example this young student (as well as several others) functions better having 2 shorter lessons a week where the father sits in and gets engaged as well. This is great because the father absorbs the information and can help the student during the week during their joint practise sessions. Rather then it being a drum lesson it’s like a little bonding play session where father and son get to have fun while learning some drumming. This goes beyond the lesson as they have frequent joint practise sessions through the week. Every week I witness good results. Consistency pays off!
I know as adults we are all busy with all the adult things, work, looking after the kids, maintaining the house etc so time can be super limited. Even in my own world I just wish we had more hours in the day (for more practise hahaha) but the reality is we don’t so most of us do what we can to make the most of our time.
This is a little write up to express my appreciation and amazement at the parents who are fortunate to find time to be with their kids during lessons and their practise routine. I hope to also encourage more parents to get actively involved with their kids music lessons. When parents are along the drumming journey with their child, I notice an immediate improvement in development, attention, desire, and engagement. I’m grateful for all my students and their parents, they all give me the ability to make a living off what I’m passionate about most. I hope the above points and examples can help you in some way or another. If there are any questions please reach out.