Did you know that learning a musical instrument is an excellent way to improve your concentration skills? Here are a few examples:
- Starting with short pieces of music, a learner gradually develops the ability to concentrate on longer pieces
- Aiming to play a piece correctly develops the ability to focus on playing slowly, evenly and getting each note correct. Deeper concentration skills develop the more you do it.
- At a more advanced level than beginner, learning to transpose to another key is a kind of mental algebra that requires a clear picture of the pattern you are going from and to.
To help your child get in the zone of better concentration you can do the following:
- Check out the room they are practicing in for potential distractions.
- active screens
- pictures on the wall in front of them
- other people around
- other sounds of any sort
Eliminating those outside distractions will give them a chance then to
- Deal with just the distractions inside their own head. These might be:
- they are hungry
- anticipating an event about to happen – like a friend coming over
- an unfinished game
- being upset with another family member
- tired from being at school all day with no down time
It helps you realise that it is going to be a good positive practice time if they do it at a time when their environment is mostly helpful.
Other helps to good concentration
- Have the practice time mostly at the same time each day so they settle more quickly into the zone of concentrating.
- Each child will have their own level of concentration and it won’t be the same as a parent, so we need to work within that too. Pushing it too much means it is harder to encourage them to the task another day.
- Balance what is practiced with task and time orientation. At the beginning there can be lots of short tasks to accomplish and you can gauge how long that should take for your child. As the pieces get longer and a routine is established you may go to more time orientated practice and the learner gets better at managing what they need to focus on improving within that time frame. Having an end point can save time wasting.
- Always try to finish on a positive note with a favourite piece, an age appropriate checklist of things done and reward stickers that are only used for piano practice. Knowing it is not going to go in forever helps a child focus for a level that is manageable.
The wonderful thing about learning a musical instrument is that the success of a lovely playing after putting in the concentration brings its own reward for the pupil like few other activities do. The value of learning how to focus that they have learned by doing it though will no doubt transfer to other learning areas.