There are often focus and attention issues in practice with young children when they are first starting to learn an instrument. Often students naturally build their ability to focus over time but, sometimes students are struggling with a bigger issue of ADHD which makes the focus needed to practice difficult for everyone involved.
The tips I am going to share below may help any child learning to focus for longer periods of time.
For students with ADHD they will likely need strategies like these to be able to practice for any significant length of time.
Before we go on to talk about specific strategies – let me tell you about my personal experience with ADHD.
When I was a young teacher a mother came to my studio with her son and said their former teacher would not work with him any longer because he was struggling in lessons due to ADHD (this was 15 years ago and I think there were far fewer resources and far less accessible information for teachers at this time).
She brought me a sheet of paper with the symptoms listed and asked me to read them and tell her if I was willing to try to work with him.
And there spelled out in black and white was a long list of characteristics that I could have written myself if someone asked me to make a list of all the things that frustrated me about myself.
It literally made my eyes well up with tears because I really realized for the first time that these things were not character flaws, they were due to how my brain functioned.
When I was young girls were not usually diagnosed with ADHD – especially the inattentive type. Instead my parents were told I wasn’t working up to my potential, my desk and locker were an inexplicably disorganized mess, and though I seemed to be doing my homework it just wasn’t making it back into school.
Being Diagnosed with ADHD in my 20’s was actually a relief to me because once I knew that I was struggling with something specific, I could learn to use strategies to work with myself and use my creative brain to my advantage instead of fighting myself all the time.
Whether your child uses medication or not, helping them learn the skills to navigate life with their unique, fast paced brain is important.
I credit the structure and creativity involved in music with helping me do just that.