In an article written for The Music Parents' Guide, Grammy-nominated music educator Anthony Mazzocchi shares his insight on why music students quit their instruments and provides tips on how parents can encourage kids to keep playing. Here are some of the takeaways.
1) As a parent, you must place as much value on music as on other subjects. Mazzocchi reasons that you - and school officials - wouldn't let your student quit math or English. Because of all its benefits, music education is just as important to a child's brain development and should be regarded as a core subject that can't be dropped.
2) Students don’t know how to improve. And not getting better can lead to frustration. “Teachers must teach students why, how, where and when to practice,” writes Mazzocchi, and parents who get to know how students learn music can provide the necessary support at home.
3) Kids assume they're not musically gifted. Yes, to some people playing music comes more naturally. But, if practiced correctly, all children can enjoy success as an instrumentalist. “As long as students know how to practice and [understand] that it needs to be done regularly,” writes Mazzocchi, “they will get better.”
4) Students stop playing over the summer. If you don't play your sport for a few months, you'll get rusty. The same is true for music. So, mom and dad, encourage your young musician to make regular practice part of their summer vacation. Otherwise, they could lose much of the momentum they built up during the previous school year.
5) The instrument is not working well. As an adult, you know how annoying a task can be when your tools are in disrepair. Old reeds, sticky valves, dents that prevent proper air flow and other mechanical problems can make playing an instrument more difficult. For help, contact your band or orchestra director or call a music shop that offers repair services.
6) There may not be enough performance opportunities during the year. “The best way to motivate students musically is through performance,” suggests Mazzocchi. “Weeks or even months of practicing without performing for an audience gets old very quickly.” He says that teachers should schedule performances about six weeks apart. And, as a parent, you can hold Friday night after-dinner concerts or performances for visiting family members.
7) Make the music fun. The music your student listens to for pleasure is likely available in sheet music form, and learning to play it can be exciting for them. Your minimal investment in sheet music can pay off as a renewed passion for their instrument.