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As we raise our children to embrace hobbies and pursue activities that they love, we sometimes find that they are falling behind or failing to grow over a period of time. Whether the activity is football, clarinet, drama, or painting, we want to make sure our kids our having fun and continuing to express themselves in a healthy way. Just like their parents, kids can hit a snag and eventually find that their favorite hobby has somehow slipped through their fingers. So why is your teenage musician not improving? The answer could be a number of things. Let’s look at a few of the options.
Here’s the thing about hobbies: If you’re not having fun with them, you will find something else to fill your time. When your child says “I’m bored” despite being surrounded by toys, video games, and musical instruments, he’s not saying he has nothing to do, right? Only that none of those things excite him at the moment. So how can we cure the boredom your son feels concerning his musical instrument(s)? Try mixing things up, either by introducing new learning materials, challenging/motivating him to play a certain song, or anything else that could bring excitement. Of course, there’s one other reason why a child could be bored...
She’s Playing the Wrong Instrument
...She is playing the wrong instrument! It’s hard to get excited about something you don’t want to be playing. We know, your daughter was seven years old and said she wanted to play the violin, but it turns out that 14-year-old her would rather shred an electric guitar. Or it could be the case that you simply enrolled your child in the same instrument that you played at her age. That’s totally understandable, but the time may come (or could already be here) when she wants to do her own thing. If she says she doesn’t want to play her current instrument anymore, talk with her and find out why before you go out and drop hundreds of dollars on a new one. That way you’re less likely to be wasting your money on a new endeavor.
Discipline is Missing in Your Teenage Musician
We’ve got some bad news for you: your teenage musician may not be that disciplined. The good news is that you are probably already aware of that. One of the key ingredients to becoming a better musician is to have the self-discipline necessary to practice, seek out new information, and solve problems all on your own. If your son is expecting for his guitar to pick itself up and begin an Eric Clapton song, then he is in for a rude awakening. A lack of discipline can be serious for a child as it tends to affect all areas of life. If you think this may be a problem, sit down with your child and perhaps your spouse to figure out the cause for this issue.
He Hasn’t Found His Group
Maybe your child enjoys practicing his instrument and is well-disciplined, so what’s holding him back? The idea of playing an instrument is often thought to be a solitary pursuit. You lock yourself in a room for an hour or more and work on chord progressions or learning a new song. While this is certainly part of the process, there comes a time when you want to be with other like-minded kids. Just like if your daughter played basketball but couldn’t find anyone else to play with, your teenage musician needs a group of people that will push her musically. This can be a friend from church or school, maybe even a sibling, but it should be someone you trust and who has the potential to help your child excel at music.
The Teaching Method is Flawed
This point isn’t about calling out your son’s piano teacher. We all know that children learn differently, whether it’s auditory vs. visual, lecture vs. discussion, or whatever teaching method you want to pick. It may be that the way your teenage musician is learning his instrument right now isn’t working. Even if something has worked in the past, it’s possible that he has progressed as far as he can under one type of instruction or one particular teacher. Maybe the online videos he’s been using to teach himself are no longer cutting it. Whatever teaching method it is, you may want to consider mixing things up.
Something Else is Wrong
Like the discipline problem we mentioned earlier, this might be a hard topic to swallow. Educators know that when a child who is normally very smart begins a trend of allowing her grades to slip, there is something other than education weighing the girl down. It could be difficult situations with her friends, a problem at home, or a variety of other factors. If your teenage musician begins to show signs of disinterest in things that used to make her happy, you might want to sit down and have a talk with her. (In case you haven’t picked up on one of the themes in this article, talking to your son or daughter helps diagnose the problem.)
She‘s Too Busy
If your child still has the same interest level in her instrument, is engaged and learning from instructors/videos, but still not improving, the problem could simply be that she is too busy. In high school it is very easy to become too spread out over a number of activities. Jumping around between school, clubs, sports, music lessons, friends, church, etc. can be a lot for the mind of a teenage musician to handle. If your child’s weekly schedule makes you feel like you need to go lie down, it may be time to cut or rearrange some of those responsibilities. Your daughter should be commended for trying to be so active, but there comes a point when she’ll be settling for mediocrity in many things rather than mastering a few things.
Your Teenage Musician Hasn’t Attended a Summer Music Camp
One thing you could do to address a few of these potential hindrances is to send your students to a summer music camp where they can learn from quality instructors, meet fellow musicians, and try out new things. There are different types of music camps out there. Some are distinguished by skill level while others focus on particular music styles. Whatever kind of summer music camp your child wants to attend, there are probably a few great options.
If your son or daughter has an interest in Christian music, we would recommend Camp Electric. This camp, located in Nashville, TN, features some of the biggest names in Christian music as its instructors and caters to students who play a variety of instruments at a number of skill levels. To find out more information, click on the link below.