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When to Practice by Yourself Part 1

There is a huge difference between the four-year-old student and the eight-year-old student.  That might sound like an obvious statement.  Of course an eight-year-old is different.  And yet--almost without fail--the parent is inevitably shocked when it happens.  One day the child is fine happily following directions.  The next day that same child wants to do everything himself.

When this change takes place some things are easy to allow.  Of course the child can make his own cereal or dress himself.  Those are simple tasks and it's important that he start feeling independent.  With independence comes more responsibility.  The chores that can be assigned to an eight-year-old are different from what a four-year-old could do.  In many ways it's a relief for the parent not to have to monitor the child's every move.

But when comes to practicing this newfound independence usually leads to fights.  Gone are the days where the child is happily using a dice to determine the number of repetitions.  Now every repetition is a battle.  And to top it all off, the parent--in the child's eyes--is stupid and knows "nothing" about the instrument.

So the parent becomes exasperated and throws in the towel.  "Correctness" seems less important than just having a day where the child practices without a fight.  After all, isn't the most important thing that the child just plays?

Well... yes and no.

Here's the thing: an instrument is not a simple task.  This is something an adult understands but a child does not.  To the eight-year-old all tasks are equal.  The bottom line during this age is independence.  So long as the child gets to do it himself it's a victory.  Quality is not something that even crosses his mind.

But the adult can see that the quality is suffering.  It's not enough to merely do something ten times.  It has to be ten good times or the lesson will not be learned.  It is this conflict of interest that causes fights to ensue.

So when should a child practice by himself?  More on that in part two....

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