The secret agenda of our music instructors

brain development early childhood education life skills through music musicolormethod Sep 23, 2022

I recently read an article with the results of a survey of millennials asking them what they feel are the biggest problems in the world. It was definitely not a pretty picture: Lack of food, water, security, war, unemployment, poverty, climate change…

But I believe there’s a deeper root problem that is affecting all of this. And, your child’s music lessons can play a role in the solution…


Integrity is usually defined as someone with great moral character. But the second definition is often overlooked: the state of being whole and undivided.

To be whole means you live up to your values. You do what you say you are going to do. You take full responsibility for your actions.

Today, society has a severe shortage of accountability. There is a lack of self-responsibility. Everyone is blaming someone else and we are all victims!

Just today, there was a car accident in my neighborhood. A car tried to pass a double-parked delivery truck and as it did, it sideswiped the truck. It was clearly the car driver's fault. And yet, as soon as he jumped out, the car driver started yelling at the truck driver.

The promise of practice

What can we as parents do? And what does this have to do with music lessons?

It all starts with practice.

Instilling responsibility

When my son Alejandro was 5, we made an agreement with him to have daily practice. We agreed to the set time to be 5 minutes in the morning, every day. While I was making breakfast, he was practicing. This strategy of the same time and place every day made it easy to turn it into a routine, and then a habit. Alejandro is turning 20 years old next month, and in his junior year of college.  He still practices daily on his own.  He’s not a music major, but this is now part of who he is. And it spreads to every other area of his life.

Just 5 minutes

Our music program teaches self-responsibility right from the first lesson. We expect our students to practice daily. Every single day. 

But it shouldn’t be too long. In the beginning, I say five minutes is plenty. It’s much better to build the routine and habit by doing small daily sessions. It's a cumulative process. 

Reward them after each session. Give them a sticker, a checkmark, or a smiley face. Use this Practice Chart.

A high five and hug doesn’t hurt either. And because our Musicolor Method is so easy to understand, we allow students to take responsibility for their practice. Even if they are preliterate.

Try this today

Set a regular practice time (and place) for your child. Make it part of their daily list. We used to have a whiteboard in the kitchen with all of our son’s chores.

Over time, the chores list grew to include:

  • put away the dishes
  • fold the laundry
  • wash the laundry
  • clean the cat litter
  • help Papa with his students

Our secret agenda

We have a secret agenda. It’s teaching self-responsibility through the internalization of practice habits and the ability to learn which applies to all endeavors in life.

And by taking responsibility from the start, we can hopefully guide our children to be leaders of integrity helping to build a better world for all.

I hope this is helpful.  Need more practice tips? 
Here’s a free PDF.  No need for email or opt-in.

Are you a music teacher working with young children?

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