Note: This story is part of our Violinist.com “Online Learning Guide” to help students and teachers make online music lessons and classes as effective as possible.
School has just started or the first day is just around the corner. This year will be like no other, with so many people working or going to school virtually. At home we have fresh headphones, lots of pens, new desks for the kids and a break capsule in the neighborhood. We are ready.
When everything else was turned upside down in March, the only thing that didn’t get out of hand was music lessons. You have been the only constant we have relied on throughout quarantine. I might not find what I want at the grocery store, lacrosse practice is sure to be cancelled, carefree days at the pool have been replaced with 1.5 hour slots scheduled a week in advance via signup genius, but music lessons? As usual. I took it for granted.
While school, as in the past, takes place during the day and there is time for practice in the evening, the dynamic will be different. The kids are in their rooms all day and may not feel like rushing back there in the evening. Socializations that no longer take place at school may need to be replaced in the evening hours. We still need time for family dinners. When thinking about how the exercise routine will work in our home, there are a lot of things to consider.
- Children need a brain break after school before training begins.
- If you have more than one child to practice with, choose practice spots at home that are as far apart as possible.
- Choose a location that will not impede a caregiver who is working from home at the same time. While some colleagues will marvel at Minuet I in the background during a Zoom call, others may not.
- Use the virtual timetable to your advantage. Is their school day 100 percent synchronous or is there an asynchronous time? Who would know if she
played the violin at 11 a.m. and did math at 2 p.m.? Maybe that would provide a mental break from school and get some practice before they get cranky at the end of the day.
- Break the exercise into pieces. Before school, lunch, afternoon, evening. Save their favorite pastime for the time they least enjoy practicing.
- Is there a topic you want your teacher to focus on this year? Make sure your routine takes this into account. The rest builds around it.
- Plan each day when the exercise will take place. Consistent time will feel more like a routine.
- Write the planned practice time on a calendar or daily checklist. Some people find great satisfaction in checking things off a list—even children.
- If your child is a “tween” (or just a headstrong teenager), let them choose their practice time each day. Listen to their thoughts on when they want to practice and what else is important to them so that it fits into their everyday lives. Help them plan their day so they can see how exercise, household chores, homework AND Fortnite can all fit together on the same day with a little pre-planning.
- Be flexible. Some days nothing goes as planned and we have to adapt. This is not failure, this is life. Do your best and start again the next day.
- Be flexible again. If your child needs human interaction and a friend knocks on the door to play outside, don’t say no, it’s practice time. Your child will then get annoyed with the music because it is now the reason they cannot see their friends. Find a way to practice later that day. Or, even better, use it as a teaching tool for your child. Getting your chores done early in the day gives you free time later to do spontaneous fun things. What if the funny things show up in the morning? There is enough time to postpone training until later that day.
- Don’t be afraid to tweak the schedule if it’s not working or even outdated. The consistency is great, but there’s no need to get into a rut.
In many ways, this school year is a blank canvas. It’s an opportunity to try new things and try new ways of doing old things. Don’t be afraid to experiment, you may be surprised at what you learn. Good luck to all!
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