I've heard it over and over as a teacher, and know it to be true as a parent: What REALLY motivates my child to practice is a performance.
So does that mean we should have studio recitals every month? While I feel these events are important, there are many other opportunities for performance you can find or create.
Planning your own performances offers several advantages: you can schedule them where and when it's convenient for your family, performers don't have to be restricted by time limitations, and they have the freedom to choose the music they want to share.
Parents frequently let me know about performances outside of the studio, and with enough lead time I can incorporate preparation for these performances into our regular lessons. Recently I've had a student perform several pieces for a large wedding in India, another perform for an event at her church, another play for his school arts night, and yet another student record songs for a CD of family music for the purpose of raising money for charity. This is in addition to the many smaller events and family gatherings students play at regularly.
It's true that children (and adults!) step up the preparation and practice when they know they will be playing their music in front of others. Performing regularly is the best cure for stage fright, and helps young musicians view performance as a regular part of life instead of a big scary thing. Help ensure a positive experience by allowing enough time for preparation, and starting small.
Don't be dissuaded by the thought of having to plan a big event to feature your child. A "performance" can be as simple as setting a weekly or monthly time for your children to play the pieces they're working on for the family. (Remember that faraway relatives can be included via Skype or FaceTime.) And of course, whenever you have family or friends visiting, be sure and ask your children to share their music!
Hi! My name is Mariya, and I teach flute and piano lessons in Redmond, WA and am a performing musician. Here I share thoughts about learning music and helping others learn how to play an instrument.