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encourage learning in the child who hates music

How to Encourage Learning in the Child who Hates Music Class

How to encourage learning in the child who hates music class?  Have you asked this question many times?  There is always that one child.  The child who acts out or disrupts, says “I hate this”, or who just doesn’t try.  It is so frustrating when you just want to teach music and want to reach every child, but don’t know how.  Or, maybe you are homeschooling and your child has no desire to learn music, but you know how important it is.  Here are some great tricks that work really well.


Make them a leader

A child who feels like they are a leader will aim to please.  If you need instruments handed out, help getting a video or music set up, or help leading a song, involve that particular child.  I understand you can’t have them lead every time, because you don’t want to play favorites.  But, having them feel like they are helping you will make them more interested in learning what you are teaching.


Give them a pair of headphones

Noise bothers some children, and adults too to be honest.  Sometimes a lack of motivation in music class is simply because it is too loud for them.  When you let them wear a pair of headphones, they can listen to the same song you are teaching other children, but can drown out the noise coming from everywhere else.  They will love participating in class more and won’t feel nearly as overwhelmed.  When it comes time to learning an instrument, maybe just keep the headphones on one ear so they can hear what they are playing.  Sometimes, with certain children, just getting used to so much noise takes a few months.  They may eventually grow out of needing a pair of head phones.


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Encourage them

Let’s be honest.  There are some children who are just not as talented in singing, playing instruments, or keeping a steady beat as other children.  If you see a child struggling, just giving them a simple “you’re doing a great job”, “I have seen so much improvement in you” or even “look how well you are keeping a steady beat” can go such a long way.  The child will feel like they are getting the hang of it, and will want to keep improving.  Over time, you will see musical growth in that child.


Hand them an instrument

The students who aren’t comfortable singing usually love to play an instrument part.  A lot of times, just letting a child focus on playing a simple instrument will make them feel like they’ve accomplished something.  Of course, encourage them to keep singing, but if they sing while holding an instrument, they may not feel so overwhelmed by having others hear them sing.  A lack of confidence with singing usually just comes from unfamiliarity or nerves.  Children will learn to love singing and will get to the point where they are ready to sing for others.  One of my favorite quotes is “I don’t think there’s anything wrong with singing a song and having fun with it” by Joe Nichols.  Getting children from the point where singing feels like a chore to something that is fun is one of the main goals.



Involve them in planning

As teachers or parents, you will plan the lesson plans.  What I mean by “involve them in planning” is to have discussions with them about what they like and dislike.  Talk about other subjects, like math.  There will be some things in math, like addition, that they love to do, but when it comes to doing word problems, they have no desire at all.  Explain how the same goes for learning music. There will be some things they enjoy doing, and some things they don’t enjoy doing, and that is perfectly normal and ok.  This is a great life lesson to learn also.


Form a relationship

When I was teaching, my trouble maker kids in my first year of teaching, were the ones I made an effort to form a relationship with the most.  These kids may be frustrated because they are told they aren’t good at reading or math, but they need to be encouraged that every child can succeed in music class.  If they don’t know you that well, they won’t feel comfortable in learning what you are teaching, and will either act out or become distant.  Making an effort, even as a parent, to connect with that child, will improve the outcome in the learning process and eventually spark a curiosity in music education that wasn’t there before.


What has worked for you in helping motivate children to learn music?  I would love to hear your ideas and to start a dialogue with you.


If you are a parent, student, or teacher who wants to learn more about music, connect with other musicians, or wants to post their latest videos of what they’ve been working on, I would love for you to join my Facebook group Music Education Connection. Collaborate, learn from each other, and grow new friendships. This is a place to receive encouragement, positive feedback, and to ask questions.




encourage learning in the child who hates music

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Jessica Peresta

Music teacher and music education blogger who helps parents and teachers by providing online music education lessons for kids.

38 thoughts to “How to Encourage Learning in the Child who Hates Music Class”

  1. These are great ideas! And I love your whole blog/website! I am a classically trained singer, unfortunately I am not practicing anymore because I am getting my degree in something completely unrelated to music, but I always wish I had the time and resources to go back!

  2. I appreciate the tip about involving them in planning. I think often, people rely on prescriptive curriculum or plans without taking into account young people’s interests or experiences. I’ve also found that inquiry and project-based learning go a long way to having young people make a lot decisions and feel like they have some ownership over what they are learning, which goes a long way towards fostering intrinsic motivation.

    Thanks for the post!

  3. I love this post, Jessica. Its so important to get kids involved and early. Theres something so special about a child being the leader of the group and having the role in the classroom 🙂 so many great tips!

  4. These are all such great ideas. Music class is such a luxury, it’s so hard for me to understand when kids “hate” classes like these, which are so enriching and important to a well-balanced educational experience.

  5. I remember when we were in music class so many years ago, there were a bunch of kids who hated music and learning music, but it was a mandatory credit. These tips would have really helped.

  6. Music wasn’t taught in school when I was growing up. You could join the band in junior high and boys’ and girls’ choirs were offered in high school. I didn’t opt for either of those opportunities, but my parents both played the piano and loved listening to recorded music. My brother and I sang in church choirs. Although I could never be a soloist, I love to sing and feel sad for children who aren’t exposed to music. Sounds like you have good suggestions for reluctant participants.

  7. These sound like great ideas to be sure everyone is ready to participate. Kids want to be successful and included, but may be embarrassed if they feel less talented than others. I can identify with the ones who are overwhelmed by too much noise!

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