The Littleboys have started piano lessons.
I have to say, week 1 did not go well, at least from Littleboy 1's point of view. It was probably my fault; we were in the middle of the Move, so I picked him up from school, rushed him down to the New House (which we were in the process of moving into) then off to the lesson. So he was both tired and overexcited - a devilish combination with him - and spent most of the first lesson banging on the piano and not listening to the teacher whatsoever. I was mortified, even though the nice East European teacher insisted she was 'used to it'.
The next week, I bribed him with a cookie from the bakery afterwards if he behaved - and he was much better. It's gradually improved; in fact last week he made huge progress, and is now able to bash out a little tune and even draw a treble clef. (Little digression: did you know that in America, they don't talk about crotchets, quavers, minims and the rest? It's all half notes, quarter notes etc. I had assumed this musical terminology was universal, but apparently it's just British).
Littleboy 2 was the keener of the two to play, and his first lesson went well - he listened, did what he was asked and by the end of the half hour was able to identify Middle C. Since then, he's also made some progress - but has also decided that practicing is really not for him. He tends to announce "I'm tired," and put his thumb in his mouth when they idea is mooted (despite having been running around two seconds earlier).
Herein lies the problem - when to find time for piano practice, and how to get them in the right mood? Now I am no Tiger Mother, and distinctly have memories myself of trying to get out of piano practice (and particularly 'cello practice - I played until the age of 16, not particularly well). In fact I even recall taping myself playing for 10 minutes, then sitting reading a comic while the tape played for another 10 minutes, craftily adding up to my 20 minutes allotted practice time. But even I appreciate that they are not going to get very far with playing an instrument if they don't practice - and The Doctor, who is a good musician, says we just have to make time somehow.
It's hard. Littleboy 1 has homework and reading every day now, and if we do another activity after school, it's supper time and homework time before you know it. When we have a free afternoon, it's either a playdate or I just tend to let them play for a bit before homework/suppertime starts- you can't force two lively small boys to come straight in from the schoolbus and start practising the piano. I also know that if you force children to do something they're not in the mood for, they are really going to hate it - and who wants that? We want them to enjoy music, not resent it. When we do have enough time, (for example, yesterday when they had no school due to Columbus Day), the practice went much better - but fitting it in around the normal week is more difficult.
So, I'd appreciate any tips on piano/instrument practice for smaller kids. What time of day works best? Do you have to bribe them (and if so with what?). Do you make them do it every day, or less often - maybe just at the weekend? And how do you strike the balance between being disciplined and making it fun?