Monaco Music Studio


Maybe you should let them quit: what to do when your child is resisting music lessons or practicing

Friday, November 11, 2022 by Marcie Monaco | Uncategorized


Hello parents,
I learned an important lesson this year that I wanted to share with you. I made a quick video (less than 6 minutes long) about how I reacted when my kids really started to push back about lessons and practicing.  If you're like me and you hate watching videos, let me give you a quick summary:

I am the mother of 8 children.  I require that they all take lessons and that they practice every day.  Two of my children started in piano and started to give me grief about having to practice pretty early on. We switched to strings before the year was out and stuck with that for quite a while.  After 4 years of cello and violin lessons, my kiddos really started to be difficult and started asking to quit.  I was reluctant to let them because it felt like they were throwing away years of progress on their instruments, but finally, I relented.  One started taking voice lessons, and one had already started with the oboe but promised to spend more time on it.

I couldn't believe what happened. My children, who were pretty ok string players, really blossomed in the following months. 

P is a fabulous oboist- one of the best middle school oboists in the state of Illinois (if not THE best).
M is a fabulous singer.  Her vocal range is INCREDIBLE-larger than most professional singers.  

I am so stunned. Who would have guessed?? It hurts a little to think that while I was just trying to be a good mom,* I was really holding them back from discovering the true musician inside. 

*Music develops cooperation, discipline, and focus.  Music provides a lovely skill/hobby children can enjoy for the rest of their lives. Music is a gift you can share with others. But you all know all of these facts already!

**I just want to state for the record that quitting isn't always the best idea!  Often kids just want to be lazy and sometimes you have to push through that.  Sometimes lessons aren't spectacularly fun, but if your child has a musical future (as a professional or enthusiastic amateur), they will need a variety of music skills to pull from and will just need to deal with the unfun stuff. Usually they will understand this. :)

The Curve of Forgetting-why regular practice is so important

Friday, November 11, 2022 by Marcie Monaco | Uncategorized

I can tell when my students don't practice because we have to repeat the exact same lesson as the previous week.   

Do you know that students forget 80% of the information gained from a class or a lesson after only TWO days? If your child is only practicing 2-3 days a week (or not at all), then they likely will have forgotten almost everything they learned in a music lesson by the time the next one rolls around. That's why daily practice is SO IMPORTANT. If a student waits until the day before their lesson (or the day OF the lesson) to sit with their instrument and review their music, by that time they will have forgotten almost everything their teacher taught them in their lesson the previous week. This will make the practice experience frustrating for them since they will have to work out the issues in their music alone (What was that rhythm pattern again? What fingerings was I supposed to use? What does this symbol on the music mean?) Then, the lesson that occurs that day or the next will be an entire repeat of the previous lesson. It's not fun for a student or a teacher to have to repeat the same lesson week after week after week.

Even if a student just spends 10-15 minutes on their instrument every day, they can retain close to 100% of lesson material and will be ready for more information each week!

BUT HOLD ON! Do you know that if a student spends 30-60 minutes a day with their instrument, they will not only maintain the status quo, but they will improve! And they will improve pretty radically! This is the phenomenon known as PROGRESS.

This is the secret to success in music. Students think they don't practice because they don't enjoy music, BUT REALLY THEY DON'T ENJOY MUSIC BECAUSE THEY DON'T PRACTICE. Music is fun when you have enough skills to play a variety of music, when you have the technical ability to play well, and you feel successful because of the work you've put in.

Please let me know if you'd like help troubleshooting your practice headaches-whether it's a scheduling issue or an attitude issue. Trust me, I've seen it all before.  :)