Practicing music can provide lifelong benefits for children, even if they do not become masters at the instrument they play. Playing at least one instrument in childhood can help kids develop their self-expression, creativity, discipline, and brainpower. And when they continue playing beyond childhood, music provides a greater form of stress relief, expression, and art.
So when your kids show interest in music, you are bound to feel the urge to help them learn. But what if one kid wants to play the guitar, and one kid wants to play the piano? What if one kid wants to play the drums, and the other wants to play the flute? As you can imagine, helping kids learn different instruments at once can be an added challenge to your already busy routine as a parent, but it is definitely not impossible.
If your kids want to learn different musical instruments from each other, here are the best ways you can handle practice time easily and more efficiently:
1. Schedule lessons at the same time
As much as possible, schedule your kids’ music lessons at the same time slot so that you don’t have to shuttle your kids to lessons at different schedules. Getting the exact same time slot may not be possible if your kids are learning different instruments, but try to get the schedules with the closest times to each other. For example, if one child is taking piano lessons at three, schedule the others at the same time or within thirty minutes of the earliest schedule.
Aside from avoiding multiple shuttles to music lessons, having your kids gone at the same time will give you some time to do other stuff until they’re done.
2. Establish separate practice areas
It’s impossible to practice an instrument while another person is playing a completely different instrument near you. To give each of your kids equal practice opportunities with minimal distractions (and prevent sibling wars), designate a separate practice area for them in the house. For example, tell one with the noisiest instrument to practice in the most soundproof room in the house. Then, have the others practice in different rooms, such as in the living room, their bedroom, or the basement.
Doing this will also give them a chance to practice even if they’re doing so at the same time. Moreover, having an area to play without their other siblings watching them will help them practice more confidently.
3. Set up guided practice times
Even if you are not musically-inclined yourself, children can learn music better with the help of their parents. You can help them through the learning material and explain things that they don’t understand. Teaching will be much easier if you know how to play, of course, but it’s definitely not a requirement.
But when you have multiple kids who are learning different instruments, you need to schedule separate guided practice times so that each child gets equal time from you. For example, spend at least ten minutes with each kid when they are practicing, using that time to help them through the difficult parts and check their progress. For older kids, a guided practice may not be necessary. But for younger kids, it’s imperative that parents help them practice, at least for the first few weeks.
4. Offer equal encouragement
If your children are close in age, competition is bound to happen when they’re all learning an instrument. This is especially true if they start learning around the same time as each other. And while a little competition is good and healthy, too much can result in fights that you would much rather not deal with.
So regardless of the skill level that each child is at with their instrument, offer everyone the same kind of encouragement, praise, and support. It can be easy to unintentionally pour more focus on the one that’s making the best progress, and that will feel awful to the others who are working just as hard. Sometimes, it can even demotivate them because their sibling is getting all the praise.
5. Encourage them to play with others
While their musical skill is growing, it’s a good idea to get them to play with other kids, starting with their siblings. Playing with others not only improves their musical skill, but it’s also a good social activity that helps them communicate with others, engage in healthy competition, develop friendships, and learn to appreciate others’ talents.
When your kids want to play different musical instruments, you might want to shut down that idea entirely as you can already imagine what chaos it would bring. But with these tips, you can allow your young musicians to flourish with your equal love and support. Who knows? Maybe playing different instruments will make them even closer than before.