Tips for Band Parents
This Parent’s Guide offers suggestions and links provided below to improve your child’s experience and success in band. This list is based on life experience and teaching experience. Parents who have followed these suggestions did see improvement in their young musician. Better yet, the child saw improvement (which furthers self-esteem and generates more success).
1. Support your child in their musical endeavors. Go to their music events. Make these events a priority and special. Take them out for ice cream or dinner afterwards. Take interest in their new found field of study. Push them enough to excel, but do not cram it into their minds. If you take TOO much interest (remember they are pre-teen or teenagers), you might turn them off.
2. Make your student practice consistently. Start with 15 minutes a day for the first month or two and then at least 30 minutes a day in the first few years. Eventually, perhaps an hour a day or more depending on their passion. Keep a practice chart and sign it (not just for the music teacher, but for yourself). A regular practice time (every day after dinner, for example) is ideal.
3. Give them a quiet, comfortable “non-distracting” space to practice, preferably away from the siblings, TV, computer, video games, I-pod, cell phones, etc. A chair and a music stand with good lighting is necessary.
4. Woodwind parents – Give your young band student a steady supply of new reeds (at least four a month). Stinginess with reeds is a major problem with young reed players. Often, they have one at a time and play it to death. Have them rotate the reeds every time they put the instrument together. Rotating the reeds will make them last longer.
5. Equipment – Quality equipment will help your player excel in music. You actually do not have to go crazy and buy the “best” equipment ever made for your student. However, low-balling the prices and getting the cheapest equipment is almost certain death to your child’s music studies.
6. Have the instrument maintained annually by a quality instrument repair technician. Leaky pads cause bad sounds and sticky slides and valves make playing difficult, but students tend to blame their ability and get discouraged when it’s actually the instrument that is flawed.
7. Listening – Have your young band student listen to recordings of their instrument. One of the largest problems with students is that they have no idea what the best sound on their instrument sounds like. By exposing them to great players, they understand the potential of their instrument and how exciting it can sound.
8. Along with listening to recorded music, take your young person to a LIVE concert. Our high schools and The Merc in Temecula offer high-quality, low-cost performances. Preferably, it is best to hear their own instrument, but know that if you take them to see any live musician (vocalist, guitarist, harmonica, anything…), it is beneficial for the kid to see them play. What do they do between tunes? Do they explain any part of the performance? Your child will soak all of this experience in and bring it to their practice and performance.
9. Have them take advantage of all the musical offerings their music teacher gives. If they offer honor band tryouts, all-county band tryouts, solo and ensemble auditions, or a recital, sign them up. A private teacher for regular lessons is the best way to improve their skills.
10. Have your child socialize with other musicians at their level and especially more advanced levels. Playing duets with other musicians is a great way to give them interest in playing their instrument. Advanced high school students may offer inexpensive lesson sessions. Whether it is an equipment tip, music tip or private teacher tip, the experience of the older player might help in some way.
11. Have them perform for you, your family or familiar adults in their lives. Having an “impromptu” concert is truly a good thing. Let’s say the Grandparent’s come to visit and Suzy Q. just learned Jingle Bells on the her instrument. Have her go get it, put it together in front of the Grandparents, bring the music stand in the room, and let her go. She might even play Jingle Bells plus a majority of her current music lessons for them. This gives her a positive audience (kids performing for Grandparents are often a WIN-WIN situation for both parties) and some performance experience which allows her greater ease when she performs for larger audiences in the future.
12. Provide other important equipment for young band students besides the instrument. Do they have a quality mouthpiece? Cleaning supplies? A mirror to check their embouchure? You can find a list of these items on the FAQ/BAND INFO tab at the top of this page.
BONUS TIP: DO NOT LET THEM QUIT!!! You are the adult. If you’ve set a positive environment for them to practice, carry on make them stay the course. Again, no forcing, just a calm, “you will stick this out.” It can be discouraging to realize it takes time to gain ability, especially with kids who are used to instant gratification, but assure them that it will happen if they continue to work.