Okay so this could be a sensitive subject. I am not necessarily talking about being an actual single parent (that is, no partner) but perhaps a single parent, where you believe more vehemently in the importance of music practice and education than your partner.
Or it may be that your partner is less of a Tiger parent than you are or has more a ‘fixed’ mindset than ‘growth’ mindset for themselves and your children.
All I can say – it is not easy and not ideal. I have met a number of parents at Suzuki workshops that were in that boat.
I know when I am home alone, if Damien is travelling, practice is rarely ideal….
I am very fortunate that my husband, Damien and I are nearly completely on the same page when it comes to our parenting. So much so that if Damien tells me I am overstepping the mark in some parenting aspect (a little too much yelling to get us all out the door in the morning perhaps?!), I really listen. 99% of the time he backs me and I back him in all aspects.
Without Damien of an evening, I struggle to do great practice sessions with the children.
Whilst the littlies are in their bath, I do a shortened version of piano with Thomas and William, longer depending on how happy they are in the bath. Once that is done, Thomas and William shower, while I pyjama the littlies and do piano with them. Then I get Thomas to teach William his violin, and do viola on his own until after I have got the small children to bed. I then join Thomas for viola to check through what he has done.
This ‘sounds’ relatively calm, but it is not. There is much shouting between rooms (“Don’t forget to wash your hair!”, “Take your clothes to the laundry basket”, “Don’t splash bathroom!”, “Watch your left arm supination!”). Heaven help us all if one child is particularly slow or needy during practice, as my attention is so stretched in multiple directions.
If that all goes to pieces (often), I simply let them all watch a television show, and individually pluck them away for practice. It is always shorter practice sessions and pushes our bedtime out a bit later, but there is not much other choice.
The key thing is, that even if Damien is away, or things are a ‘challenge’, I tell the children we all just have to ‘touch’ the piano tonight. Now the eldest of course wants to take this literally, but no. I mean, I set a practice plan that is some revision pieces and maybe one extra bar of a new piece. I let Tom do some viola on old pieces or just some scales (pretty much on his own) and I get William so show me some good bow hold exercises for the violin. All done in less than 30 minutes so very quick and easy and manageable.
However it means we didn’t skip a day and that just means GETTING THEM TO THE INSTRUMENTS the next day is still easy and no struggle. Also they all seem to be quite reasonable the next night when we do a larger practice because the prior night was light.
If you don’t have as supportive a partner as you would like, then you may need to work out some work arounds:
- Do practice when you partner is not around (perhaps after breakfast, just before school)
- Work really hard to make the practice sessions they are around for successful – short, every one happy, no yelling, no crying
- Make sure the children do an activity with your partner the s/he enjoys (for example, soccer, ballet, etc) and make links between what it takes to be successful at that, and the same skills of deliberate practice.
- You will need to work very hard at demonstrating that you are not doing it just to achieve external goals but more for the lessons of perseverance and grit that learning a musical instrument provides or the enhanced memory and mathematical ability.
- Surround yourself with others as much as possible, try our Facebook community page, who will be there when you need more support.
Do you have any other suggestions? What has worked for you? Please write a comment below!