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Persistence Part 2

So let's go back to the practicing scenario.  If a student starts young--say, 3 or 4 years old--the decision to play an instrument comes from the parents.  Yes, a child may have expressed an interest in music but most certainly not in the hours and hours of practicing it will take to become proficient.  It is no wonder that this results in tantrums.  In the child's mind, this is not what he signed up for.

Where's the motivation?

There's no one answer to this.  Just like how there's no one answer for why you didn't exercise on that one day.  Maybe you didn't feel like it.  Maybe you were just plain ol' tired.  Maybe you were sore from the previous day's workout.  Maybe all three of these things.

Difficult practicing work may not be a top priority for a student so it's important to understand what does motivate the child.  Up until the teenage years, the desire to please is a very strong motivator.  If the child is receiving constant positive feedback and support from his parents the hard work begins to seem like more worth the struggle.

It takes awhile before a child is mature enough to understand the passage of time.  To him, the lesson could have just as easily been last month as last week.  This means the child most certainly does not understand the reason why he has to practice now so that way when he's 85 he'll be really really good at playing. Smaller goals also help with the concept of time.  Giving the student more immediate goals such as having three practices without tears (and hopefully a smile!) makes the challenges seem more tangible.

These are ideas but what persistence boils down to in the early days of lessons is persistence from the parents.  This is a tall order because persistence is not a natural thing.  The natural thing is to want to give up as soon as we are met with resistance.  Remember the gym?  If we, as adult, have the ability to give up on exercise so easily--even while knowing that it is necessary--then only imagine the mental struggle a child must be going through.

The key is not to become overwhelmed.  Accomplishing small tasks eventually adds up to a larger whole.  Don't think about how your child is never going to get a music scholarship with all these tantrums.  Focus on this week, this day, this moment.      

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