It’s never easy to watch your child struggle with anything. Even though you may know that the struggle is an important part of the learning process, it’s still difficult to endure. It is very common for children to get frustrated with music lessons and there are things you, as a parent, can do to help support them without interfering with this important learning process.

Why it’s good when kids struggle to learn music

 When your child engages in "productive struggle," it will help him learn better and reduce the frustration with his lessons.

When your child engages in "productive struggle," it will help him learn better and reduce the frustration with his lessons.

Believe it or not, getting frustrated or struggling while learning something new is actually very positive. There’s a term that educators use, “productive struggle,” that points to the benefits of this type of learning challenge. Most often associated with math, productive struggle refers to the somewhat difficult process that a student must push through to achieve a learning breakthrough. In this article from Education Week, the authors make the case that teachers should be actively building productive struggle into their teaching methods.

When a student gets frustrated with his music lesson, this productive struggle process will help him address challenges with more creativity and lead to more confidence in solving difficult problems in the future. If you can keep the benefits of productive struggle in mind, it will be easier to help your child manage their frustration when studying music.

Identifying the cause of frustration with music lessons

The truth is that kids get overwhelmed with day-to-day challenges which makes learning seem more difficult.  When your child seems to get frustrated with her music studies, it’s important to first determine if it’s really the lessons causing her stress – or something else. Talk with your children about their days – are they fighting with friends, struggling with a subject in school or have they had too much on their calendars lately?  Maybe they slept poorly or didn’t finish their lunch?  All of these things can develop feelings of negativity and overwhelm. Sometimes, he or she just needs to talk it out  - or have a quick snack - to feel better.

One of the main reasons that we strongly recommend that a child continues with his music lessons throughout the summer is because there are fewer distractions  - and fewer frustrations.  If your child has been struggling more during the school year, summer lessons may be a more relaxing time for him to focus on music.

Struggling to learn is helpful, aimless frustration is not

If you have determined that your child is indeed struggling with his music lessons, it’s important for you to stay positive and encouraging. If this frustration is happening while he is practicing at home, encourage him to refocus. This may include having him take a short break to stop the spiral of negativity. True frustration will often cause a child to “shut off,” which will not allow them to keep learning. Positive struggle is all about staying engaged with the learning process and approaching challenges with a confident attitude. 

 Helping child stay focused on small goals and incremental progress will minimize her frustrations with her music studies.

Helping child stay focused on small goals and incremental progress will minimize her frustrations with her music studies.

A few things you can do to get your child back on track when she experiences frustration studying music:

  • Engage her is a short conversation about something else to get her mind off her struggle
  • Have her take some deep breaths (10 is usually sufficient to get refocused)
  • Encourage her to take a short break – 10-15 minutes is perfect to “reset” an attitude without losing momentum

At Winchester’s Stage Center Music, we encourage parents to talk with their son or daughter’s music teacher to learn about the incremental goals for each student. Talk with your child about these goals – sometimes reminding him or her to just to focus on these small weekly goals is helpful in keeping your student engaged in the learning.

Every student is bound to experience frustration with their music lessons, but if you can keep them focused on small goals and engaged in the learning process, your child will learn to manage their struggles and will flourish when faced with adversity.

A few other blogs you might enjoy:

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