Instrumental Practice: RICHARDS FAMILY

In talking with my grown children, I’ve realized a few things I’ve done that may have encouraged them to pursue their future in music.

While raising my children, I felt it was important to teach them that music isn’t about competition, but enriching lives. We would often spend time around the piano playing and singing songs. I’ve always enjoyed listening to my children perform, and most of that time it was private concerts at home. Music is a gift that should be used to bless and serve others.

I’ve tried to help my children focus on their future selves, and when they want to quit or give up, I asked them, “Is this something you think you would regret in the future?” Sometimes I would give them small goals they could work on. For example: “If you can get this one section down, we can watch your favorite show together,” or whatever was important to them. It seemed like once my children reached a certain level in piano, they enjoyed it without trying to persuade them to practice.

When my children were young and just starting out, I trusted them to practice on their own and did my best to never make it a fight. I learned early on that criticism is an ineffective form of motivation. When they struggled, I focused on finding the tools or resources to help them improve, instead of being critical. I also made sure I took the time to sit down with them and enjoy what they were learning. I felt it was important to keep musical learning a positive experience, instead of something they dreaded. It’s not about being the best or looking good, but bettering themselves and blessing those around them with beautiful music.

I’ve always felt music is a way for people to communicate and express feelings. It’s an outlet and a way to express emotions — both happy and sad. I’ve always tried to help my children understand the importance of cultivating their musical talents, because of the happiness and peace that music can bring. Listening to a beautiful song would encourage them to want to learn it.

-written by Heidi Richards, one of our music moms