I know of no goal that would allow a student to miss practicing, certainly not to miss practicing on a fairly recurrent basis. I understand that life sometimes gets in the way of our intentions and desires, but with a little thought and planning, we can still manage to find time to practice. The solution is all about priorities. If we place a high priority on practicing with our child, then we will find or make the time necessary to practice with our child.
I ask my parents to find a minimum of 10 minutes. That is all. When I reduce my expectations to the quantity of 10 minutes, my parents and students find it difficult to excuse their way out of it, because everyone can find 10 minutes in their day:
- My university students have learned that they can generate 30 minutes to an hour each day just by avoiding the lobby of the music building and instead following a route through the music building that skirts the lobby. A lot of time gets wasted in the lobby with social activities.
- Having a plan in advance for the day or even the week will help the student or parent to stay focused on what activities are productive and to pay less attention to time-wasting (and possibly nonproductive or unrewarding) activities.
- Eat/dress/shower/walk faster.
- Record TV shows and fast forward through commercial breaks.
- Primp less in the mirror (this is a great generator of time for students in the teen years!).
- Watch less TV.
- A group of my studio parents used to take turns on certain days and go to the children's school to practice with each other's child. The school was delighted to allow this to take place during a time when nothing else more important was going on.
- Practice before school.
- Practice in those "twilight" minutes before dinner. Practice after dinner in those moments before the night's entertainment begins.
Here is a short interview of about one minute with the mother of one of my youngest students. This student began lessons at the age of 2.5 years. The student has a weekly 30 minute lesson and attends group classes of 45 minutes to an hour about twice a month. She has great concentration and plays beautifully. She is working to complete her Twinkle variations along with several other songs that we enjoy playing. Here is my student's mother describing her philosophy about practicing:
See how simple it can be? Can you really look me in the eye and tell me that you cannot find ten minutes a day to spend with your child in quality interaction? Your child is your most precious gift. Ten minutes is a small amount of time to spend to develop the gift of a lifetime for your child.