It’s no secret that the holidays can be a challenging time for regular practice. School is out. Holiday activities pack the schedule. You might be traveling, or family and friends might be visiting from out of town. With so much happening during the holidays, how do you manage to fit in practice?
But there’s a crucial component that we need to address first: avoid guilt.
Sometimes a practice might get missed, or stress from the holidays might bleed over into practice. If this happens, forgive your child and forgive yourself. Above all, avoid guilt in both you and your child. Guilt saps motivation. Planning for practice and for practice breaks will help you avoid guilt and set you and your child up for success.
Practice is a meaningful quality time for parent and child. During the holidays, this can make practice a break from the hustle and bustle of the season. Not only will this help motivate your child, it will reinforce your motivation too.
Here are our 4 holidays tips to help you guilt-free practice:
1. Practice early in the day.
It can be harder to have a later practice than one earlier in the day. Usually,the further your day progresses, the more your practice time will have to compete with other activities. Try having practice closer to the start of the day, such as after breakfast. Then practice is done and you don’t have to worry about it slipping through the cracks. You and your child can also start the day with a feeling of success and accomplishment.
2. Set a minimum daily practice.
Just because the holidays are challenging, you can still set a good baseline. Set a minimum practice for your child (if they’re old enough, maybe they can negotiate this with you). A good minimum could be a current song plus one review song. Aim for more, of course, but on those days where time is tight and everyone feels rushed or squeezed, a simple minimum can still help make the difference between some practice and no practice. That regular practice will also set up your child for success and can make practice easier when that routine is maintained.
3. Make your Suzuki listening part of your day’s soundtrack.
In our house, we put on our Suzuki listening during breakfast. Incorporate your listening into a time that works well for you. It could be during a meal, as part of bedtime, or while traveling for an event, shopping, or a family visit. Having listening as a regular part of the day builds consistency, which can ease the rush of the holidays.
4. Agree in advance any practice breaks—and agree when practice will resume.
Yes, we aim to practice every day. But during the holidays, we also know we need some leeway.
If you’re traveling, agree in advance whether or not you’re taking your instrument. If you need to leave the instrument at home and take a practice break, accept that and don’t feel guilty. Also set when you will resume practice, so you and your child know in advance and can get back in to practice after your trip.
If you want to have Christmas or another time during the holidays be a practice break, discuss it with your child so everyone is on the same page. That will also make it easier to resume practice once the practice break is done.
There is so much happening during the holidays, but the joy of music and learning are another fun time that can be part anyone’s busy season. Use these tips to help you and your child work together on practice and listening, and that can help put more joy and less stress into your holidays.