Learning the viola can be a fun and exciting time in your child’s life, and they can make the most of it by taking their lessons seriously. After all, excelling at an instrument takes more effort than just showing up for lessons week after week–it takes plenty of practice, careful maintenance, and tons of patience. From asking a lot of questions to staying on track with practicing, here are a few ways you and your child can get the most out of your investment in viola lessons.
Take Lessons in a Professional Environment
Many parents try to save a few bucks by enrolling their child in lessons that take place in an unprofessional environment. While this may save you some money in the short-term, paying a little extra to ensure your child takes lessons in a professional environment will surely pay off in the long run. After all, learning the viola isn’t only about finding a professional teacher–it’s about finding a professional teacher who keeps things professional in the classroom. Whether your child takes lessons in a professional studio, at your own home, or at the teacher’s home, the space in which they learn should be conducive to learning and concentration, otherwise their progress will be slow.
Ask What Your Child’s Teacher Needs From You
While you may think the responsibility of lessons is between your child and their teacher, children truly excel at lessons when their parents are involved from the get-go. If you don’t know what your child’s viola teacher expects from you and your child, sit down with them and ask what they expect from you. Music teachers usually have a specific set of guidelines that explain how involved you should be in your child’s learning. Some prefer for you to sit in lessons every now and then, while others may request that you monitor your child’s practice time. Think of your child’s teacher as the coach of a team, your child as the star player, and yourself as the team captain. The involvement and cooperation of all parties involved is essential to your child’s progress on the viola.
Keep Your Instrument Maintained
If your child’s viola teacher spends half of their lesson time fixing their instrument and preparing it for play, that’s valuable time that could be spent learning how to play the viola that’s thrown out the window. One of the most obvious, yet often overlooked, tips is to clean your viola regularly. Make sure your child wipes excess rosin away from the body and strings of the viola after each use, and help them wipe their instrument down with clean polishing clothes. If you need some guidance on how to best keep your child’s viola clean and maintained, request a quick run-through with your child’s teacher. They’ll be more than happy to show you the ropes, and they’ll love that you’re trying to be involved.
Make Sure Your Child Thinks Music is Important
If you’re paying for viola lessons, you probably think music is important–but have you communicated that to your child? Children learn a lot of things from what their parents say and do, and they’ll adopt your opinions on music when you lead the way. If you haven’t already, take your child to live concerts and performances. Even if the performances don’t include the viola, talk about how awesome playing music is and how you’re jealous of anyone who knows how. Show that you enjoy listening to your child play, offer words of encouragement, and ask them questions about what they’re learning. Whether you partake in music activities as a family or one-on-one, it’s important that your child understands how important music is to your family and to society as a whole.
Prepare Space For Your Child to Practice
Consistent practice is a crucial part of your child’s progress on the viola, and if they don’t have the proper space to practice they probably won’t spend much time doing so. Make sure the room or space in which they practice is clean, well-lit, and free from distraction. Put yourself in your child’s shoes, and ask yourself “would I get much work done in this space?” Once you have designated a practice space, set a schedule and make sure your child sticks with it. Often, finding the motivation to practice can be difficult for children learning an instrument, so remain supportive and encourage them to practice without coming across as a nag.
Most Importantly, Have Fun!
This last tips is the most important of them all, especially since children who don’t enjoy the instrument they play are less likely to stick with it. At the end of the day, let your child play when they want to play. Although practicing for 30 minutes a day is deal, don’t live and die by the clock. Encourage your child to invite friends over to jam, and invite friends and family members over for mini recitals. If your child doesn’t seem to be having fun or dreads sitting down and playing the viola, perhaps you should consider letting your child switch to a different instrument. After all, the viola isn’t for everyone!
Maintenance is just as important as lessons and practicing. If you need some guidance, check out Viola Maintenance: Keep Your Viola Sounding (& Playing) Its Best.