What To Do When My Child Stops Practicing

A parent spending money on a child for music or guitar tuition has one dreaded fear. That their money will go to waste. The typical scenario of this is that the child loves playing and practicing the guitar at first, but at some point their enthusiasm seems to die down.

Guess what? This is not only very common – it’s also normal.

What?! Normal?!


The vast majority of people aren’t super enthusiastic about one single topic forever. They need regular stimulation, which for us guitarists means attending weekly lessons, seeing your own progress/improvements, setting and reaching new goals, listening to new music and maybe even playing through new amps or pedals.

So what do you do when your child stops practicing? I can tell you right now that simply “quitting” guitar lessons will only guarantee that you haven’t maximised the return on your investment of time, effort and money. You might be thinking “maybe they’ll want to pursue it later on in life” and I can tell you that statistically they won’t.

What you really need to do is assess why they’ve stopped practicing. The most common reasons are that they “can’t be bothered right now”, “don’t have enough time” or “have never really practiced properly to begin with”.

My first response to parents is – don’t stress. All is not lost.

Once their tutor is informed, we can start implementing systems to motivate them to practice. Here are a few good (and frequently suggested by UGA) ideas!

1) Reward Practice

What child does their homework willingly? They need incentive, which at school is usually the negative reinforcement of getting in trouble. Keep things positive for guitar by rewarding them with extra video game time, dessert that night, ice cream on the weekend, pocket money or anything else that works for your child.

2) Schedule Practice

Make a daily or weekly routine roster of chores, homework, video game time etc. and schedule guitar practice as part of it. Keep it early on in the day, rather than late at night. This means students can get it done and dusted as soon as they get home from school.

3) Talk To Them

Maybe they’re sick of guitar (HA! Like that’s even possible!). Find out their reason, but above all else remember that they are still a young child.  It may just be a bit of a rut or rough patch that they will soon get through, especially with the assistance of their tutor.

4) Inform Their Tutor

Don’t simply quit lessons straight up (I know, I seem biased). Talk to their tutor and ask for their help. My lesson approach changes based on how much a student practices, so that I can get results from their playing regardless of how much effort they are putting in at home.

5) Set Goals

They can decide the goal, or you can set them a realistic challenge (it might be a good idea to ask your tutor for suggestions). Set the goal and reward with your child and work together to achieve it. It could be to learn a specific song by the end of a term, practice 200 minutes by the end of the month, play a song for a family member… or anything else that your child would benefit from and enjoy!

6) Take Charge!

Take charge of their practice time. This will mean sitting with them and instructing them what to play and how many times to play it – in fact, it’s kind of like a mini guitar lesson that you’re running. But don’t learn new material, just revise what they’ve already been working on. Make sure you keep track of time with a stopwatch and then record the minutes in your child’s Practice Log (this should be found in the lesson booklet of every UGA student). Contact us if you need more!

7) Be Realistic

I’ve met parents before that have expected their child to master absolutely everything they’re taught within a matter of days. This may be possible for some learners, but the majority of students find guitar quite difficult and it takes a lot of time before the muscle memory and necessary skills are well established.

Hopefully you now have an idea of what approach to take if your child isn’t practicing as much as you’d like. Remember to always consult your tutor if you have problems like these. They’re there to help!

Need further advice? Feel free to contact us!

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