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Top Ten Ways to Help Your Band Student at Home

TOP 10 WAYS TO HELP YOUR BAND STUDENT AT HOME
Even if you don’t have a musical background, you can still help your student become a better musician. Follow these simple steps to help your student improve!

1. REMIND YOUR STUDENT TO PRACTICE.
In any subject, mastery only occurs after understanding through doing – music is not any different in that respect. Ask your student if there are any passages that he or she should be working on. Practicing at home should be no different than doing math, science or any other homework. Keep in mind that practicing in shorter sessions over the week is more beneficial and effective than one or two long sessions per week. 

2. SET A REGULAR PRACTICE TIME AND SPACE.
Setting a regular homework and practice schedule is an important factor in keeping on top of what’s going on in class. Find a time and space that works best for all in the household. This can go for any homework.

3. ENCOURAGE YOUR STUDENT TO TAKE PRIVATE LESSONS.
Students can learn a great deal in a large group setting, however, it is difficult to get into the intricacies of each instrument during class. When your student takes private lessons, he or she will better understand the instrument and become a better musician much more quickly than in class alone.

4. BE INVOLVED.
While your student probably won’t admit it, students do appreciate when parents are involved in their activities. There are many opportunities available at the high school; just ask your student’s teachers. Most importantly, come and listen to your student’s performances!

5. ASK TO HEAR YOUR STUDENT PLAY ON A REGULAR BASIS.
You can encourage your student to practice by asking to listen to something he or she is working on. Even if you don’t have a musical background, you can probably pick out areas that need some attention. Checking for progress later will help teach your student accountability.

6. STAY IN CONTACT WITH YOUR STUDENT’S TEACHERS.
Your student’s teachers will be able to tell you his or her strengths and weaknesses. This can be valuable information and can help shape how your assist your student at home so he or she is most successful. Make sure to stay on top of the information that is communicated through email and letters home. 

7. TAKE YOUR STUDENT TO LIVE PERFORMANCES.
Hearing live performances is an excellent way to improve without formally practicing. Hearing quality ensembles will train your student’s ear to listen better and play more musically. We are very lucky to have UW–Oshkosh, the Oshkosh Symphony Orchestra and Lawrence University in close proximity.

8. ASK YOUR STUDENT IF HE OR SHE NEEDS ANY SUPPLIES.
A properly maintained instrument is essential to performing well. Ask your student if any supplies are needed. Instruments also need to be maintained periodically. Your student’s instrument should be taken in to a music store for a check up at least once per year. Does your student have a tuner or metronome? These can make great stocking stuffers!

9. CONSIDER A “STEP-UP” INSTRUMENT.
By the time a student is a freshman or sophomore, it may be time to look at getting a “step-up” instrument. Most students start on a beginner level instrument and when students become high schoolers, many can play beyond what the instrument can offer. If a new instrument is not feasible, it may be worth looking at an upgraded mouthpiece or barrel. Speak with Mr. Singer or Mr. Wilson about the possibility of trying out an intermediate or pro-level instrument.

10. DON’T LET YOUR STUDENT GIVE UP.
Teaching your student perseverance and the importance of following through on obligations can be the most important life skills you impart upon your student. In any activity, there are difficult days or even weeks. In all parts of his or her life, remind your student that things will get better and with a little work, he or she will come out as a better person for sticking with it. 
They will thank you for it later!