Thursday, December 2, 2010

Practice Makes Perfect

I'm proud of my kids. I'm proud of them in general, but in particular I love to see them taking pride in their instruments. They practice every weekday for thirty minutes per instrument (15 minutes on days when they have their lessons in school). I won't pretend that they don't complain about it sometimes - they're not the self-motivated types that will just go and play their instruments for hours for the sheer beauty of being able to make music. I suppose that may come someday - baby steps. But my older son no longer cries about having to play the guitar and my daughter, after two long years, has finally stopped begging to quit the trumpet (which I could tell she really enjoyed playing - it was practicing she didn't like). They've just embraced their daily practice as a part of their routine and they do it.

But what's more, they've come to appreciate the value of practice. They love to come and tell me how much more they've mastered than the other kids they take lessons with. Their teacher often gives them extra pieces to work on that she doesn't give to the other students because they're so far along. And they just LOVE to report back to me about how the other kids openly admit that they never practice and can't play their assigned music. I try to discourage the bragging and the "I'm better than so-and-so" attitude, but seeing them embrace the value of practice is indescribably gratifying. They can clearly see their progress and they understand that it's the time investment that's made the difference. I can only hope that that translates to other aspects of their lives.

About a month ago, we added weekday karate practice to their afternoon routine. It's just 10 minutes a day, but that's plenty of time for them to go through their katas, their self-defense techniques, their First Series and their Basic Combinations. There's much grumbling about it while it's still new, but there was an almost immediate improvement in their skill level once they started daily practice.

My sincere hope is that all of this practicing and the corresponding improvements will become ingrained in them as kids, so that it follows them into adulthood. Someday, I'd like them to just settle in and practice a new skill because that's just how they've always done it. It'll yield them benefits for the rest of their lives if they do. In the meantime, it's just so much fun to watch them excel at the things they put time and effort into.

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