Practicing can be a lot of fun, but sometimes it is just work. Most band students go through spurts of practicing a lot and then spurts of practicing a little. This is normal for any musician.
One reason that comes up surprisingly often is that some students are embarrassed when they practice. To be clear, the student is probably proud to be part of the band and loves the idea of playing their instrument, but they are embarrassed for others (including you) to hear them.
Important note: The students don’t say they are embarrassed…that would be too embarrassing. They show that they are embarrassed because they don’t want others to hear them play.
This type of embarrassment often happens when the student realizes they are falling behind their classmates in ability level. This isn’t always true, but it is a lot of the time.
Have you ever forgotten a person’s name, but never asked them. You might just avoid using their name and hope to catch it later. After a while, you have gone so long that it would be embarrassing to ask them their name. This is similar to how kids react to practicing if they are falling behind. At first they avoid playing and are too embarrassed to ask for help on something they should already know. Not only are they avoiding to ask for help, but they avoid being heard playing…so they just don’t practice.
What can you do?
If your child is just now starting band, be involved. Listen to your child play from the beginning and be part of the practicing experience. Maybe you can even try playing your child’s instrument, too.
Be supportive, honest, and kind. When your child plays something really well, tell them how good they did. If they play something that doesn’t sound good, tell them that their hard work will pay off eventually, but don’t give up. Learning to play an instrument is a long term process.
If your child has been playing for a while you can still help them. Have your child create a practice schedule and hold them to it. If they are embarrassed to be heard, try finding a quiet room where others can’t bother them. Sign up for private music lessons so your child receives one-on-one instruction. Your child’s band director may be able to help you find a qualified teacher. In music, private lessons are encouraged for all ability levels and really help students improve from wherever they are in the learning process.
Don’t forget, you should also speak with your child’s band director. He or she can tell you how they are doing during class and can offer specific advice to help you and your child.