top of page

Back to School, Back to Music: Tips for Balancing Academics and Musical Practice

Ah, the smell of freshly sharpened pencils and the sound of school buses rumbling down the street—yes, it's that time of the year again! Back-to-school season is upon us, bringing with it a mix of excitement and maybe a bit of apprehension. As parents, we know the challenge of juggling academics with extracurriculars like music can be as tricky as hitting that high note in a new song.

You're probably wondering how to help your young Mozart or budding Beyoncé keep up with both scales and science projects. Well, you're not alone! Many parents struggle with balancing the academic and artistic development of their kids. And that's precisely why we've crafted this blog. It's chock-full of tips and strategies to help you and your young maestro harmonize school work with music practice.

In the sections that follow, we'll delve into ways to establish a balanced routine, manage time effectively, prioritize tasks, and much more. Think of this blog as your personal conductor, orchestrating a symphony where academics and music live in perfect harmony. So, shall we strike the first chord and dive in?

#1. Harmonizing Homework - Establishing a Routine:

Routines. Some of us love them, some of us avoid them, but there's no denying their efficacy. Just like a well-practiced piece of music flows effortlessly, a well-structured routine can make the days go smoother for both you and your child. Having a set schedule for academics and music practice can reduce stress and improve performance in both areas.

Let's start by addressing the elephant in the room: Yes, every family's routine will look different, and that's okay! The key is to tailor a routine to your child's specific needs. Perhaps your child is a morning person who thrives when practicing the violin before school, or maybe they are more of a night owl who prefers to delve into piano keys post-homework. Assess your child's natural rhythms and build a schedule around them.

But wait, routines aren't set in stone; they need to be flexible. Your child might have a science fair project that requires extra time or a recital coming up that calls for more intense practice. It's crucial to adjust the routine as needed, keeping the balance between academics and music practice in check. Regular check-ins can help you gauge how well the routine is working and make adjustments accordingly.

There you have it—creating a routine isn't just about dividing time between school and music. It's about creating a sustainable, adaptable structure that serves your child's unique needs and aspirations. A harmonized schedule is the first step towards hitting those high academic and musical notes.

#2. Quarter Notes and Quizzes - Prioritizing Tasks:

You've got the routine down, but let's face it—life doesn't always stick to a schedule. There will be pop quizzes, surprise recitals, and maybe even the unexpected family outing. So, how can we teach our young virtuosos to prioritize their activities effectively? Prioritization is like learning to read sheet music; it might seem daunting at first, but with practice, it becomes second nature.

The first step is helping your child identify what needs immediate attention and what can wait. For example, preparing for a test the next day obviously takes precedence over practicing a piece that's part of next month's recital. Likewise, if your child has mastered one song but is struggling with another, it's essential to allocate more time to the challenging piece.

Now, let's talk about tools that can help with prioritization. You might find traditional tools like to-do lists effective, or perhaps you prefer tech-savvy solutions like task management apps. Apps like Todoist or Trello can be excellent companions in this endeavor, helping your child visualize their tasks for the day or week. These platforms allow for color-coding and setting reminders, making it easier to prioritize activities.

Prioritizing doesn't just help in the short term; it's a skill that will benefit your child for years to come. It teaches them to evaluate tasks based on deadlines, importance, and their current skill level in a particular area. Just like practicing scales can improve their musical prowess, learning to prioritize can enhance their academic and life performance.

#3. Metronome Methodology - Time Management Skills:

Just as a metronome helps musicians keep time, mastering the art of time management can help your child maintain the tempo of their busy lives. Between school, homework, music practice, and oh—let's not forget—a well-deserved dose of playtime, it may seem like there are never enough hours in the day. But fear not, because good time management can make it feel like you've found a hidden stash of extra minutes!

The cornerstone of effective time management is planning. Encourage your child to break down larger tasks into smaller, manageable chunks. For instance, instead of planning to "study history," they can aim to "read two chapters and make notes." Similarly, "practice the piano" can be divided into "warm up with scales, focus on the new piece for 20 minutes, then review older songs." By making tasks more specific, your child can better gauge how much time each activity will take and plan accordingly.

Let's not forget the digital helpers out there designed to make our lives easier. Timer apps like Be Focused or Focus Booster use techniques like the Pomodoro Technique to break work into intervals, typically 25 minutes in length, separated by short breaks. This method can work wonders for both academic studies and musical practice, keeping your child engaged while preventing burnout.

Time management is a crucial skill that not only helps your child balance academics and music but also sets them up for greater successes in life. Like a reliable metronome, effective time management provides the steady beat to which all other activities can harmonize.

#4. Band Practice and Book Reports - Co-curricular Connections:

Now, this is where the plot thickens—or shall we say, where the music gets more intricate. Believe it or not, the skills your child gains from music practice aren't just applicable to the concert stage. They can provide valuable lessons that translate directly into academic success. Yep, we're talking about the exciting, symbiotic relationship between band practice and book reports, scales and science, or rhythm and reading.

First, let's dive into the concept of focus. Music practice demands intense concentration, whether it's maintaining tempo, mastering a new piece, or simply getting those chords right. Similarly, academic subjects like math and science also require dedicated focus. You'll find that as your child improves in music, their ability to concentrate on academics can enhance as well.

But what about creativity? It's not just reserved for freeform jazz sessions or composing original songs. Creativity plays a role in problem-solving across various academic subjects. Whether it's finding a unique way to approach a math problem or thinking outside the box for a science experiment, the creative spark ignited during music practice can set fire to academic pursuits as well.

Don't just take our word for it; encourage your child to see the connections themselves. Ask them to reflect on how practicing scales may be similar to memorizing multiplication tables, or how understanding musical composition could help in structuring an essay. Making these co-curricular connections not only makes learning more fun but also creates a sense of unity between seemingly disparate activities.

By helping your child see the co-curricular connections between music and academics, you're not just encouraging them to excel in both fields; you're also making the whole process a lot more enjoyable and enriching.

#5. Rhythmic Rewards - The Role of Incentives:

Let's face it, even the most motivated among us could use a little push now and then. And when it comes to kids juggling both school and music practice, a nudge in the form of rewards can be super effective. Just as a standing ovation at a recital feels exhilarating, small rewards can offer that needed boost to keep the momentum going in both academics and music.

Now, before we start handing out candy bars for every piano scale nailed or math problem solved, let's talk about meaningful rewards. How about using experience-based incentives? For example, after a month of consistent practice and good grades, a fun outing or a movie night could be in order. These experiences not only serve as rewards but also create cherished memories.

What about the psychology behind rewards? Experts suggest that it's essential to keep the 'reward loop' short, especially for younger kids. This means offering rewards more immediately after the desirable behavior, like finishing homework or completing a music practice session. Immediate rewards reinforce the positive behavior more effectively than delayed rewards. As your child matures, you can start extending the reward loop, moving from daily to weekly, and so on.

Remember, rewards should not be a substitute for inner motivation. The ultimate goal is to help your child develop a love for learning and a passion for music. Rewards are merely tools that help cultivate these qualities. So the next time your child feels stuck in a loop of academic or musical challenges, a rhythmic reward might just be the note that harmonizes their efforts into a beautiful melody.

#6. Measure for Measure - Tracking Progress:

You wouldn't start a journey without a map, right? Similarly, tracking your child's progress in both academic and musical pursuits can serve as a roadmap to success. It helps identify strengths, reveals areas for improvement, and provides a clear picture of how far they've come. Just as musicians track their technical growth, your child should also have a way to see their academic milestones.

Firstly, let's talk about tools. Journals or progress trackers can be incredibly useful for this purpose. Your child can jot down what they've learned each day, the challenges they faced, and how they overcame them. If old-school notebooks aren't their thing, there are various digital platforms that can serve the same purpose. Apps like My Study Life for academics or Modacity for music practice can help track progress, set reminders, and even offer analytics.

But here's the thing—tracking progress isn't solely about documenting the highs. It's equally important to note the lows, the challenges, the roadblocks. This helps in two ways: it allows you and your child to strategize how to overcome these challenges, and it also provides a fuller, more authentic picture of their journey. When they hit a milestone or accomplish a goal, looking back at the challenges makes the victory even sweeter.

Of course, progress tracking shouldn't become another cumbersome task on your child's to-do list. Make it fun and interactive. Perhaps you could set up a 'progress wall' in your home where your child can add a sticker or a note every time they hit a small milestone. Before you know it, they'll have a wall full of achievements that they can be proud of.

#7. Ensemble Effort - Family and Community Support:

No musician is an island, and the same goes for students. Just like a band or orchestra relies on each member to create a beautiful symphony, your child needs a supportive network to excel in both academics and music. This support can come from family, friends, and even the broader community. After all, it takes a village to raise a child—or in this case, a multi-talented academic-musical prodigy!

Let's start with the family. As parents, your role isn't just to remind your child to practice or finish their homework (although that's important too!). Your job is also to be their biggest cheerleader. Celebrate the small wins, whether it's acing a spelling test or successfully performing a challenging piece of music. Your positive reinforcement can act as a powerful motivator.

But let's not forget siblings. Brothers and sisters can either be the greatest allies or the most significant distractions when it comes to academics and music practice. Teach them to support each other's endeavors, maybe even make it a fun competition. Who can finish their homework first? Who can practice for the longest without a mistake? Healthy competition can spur motivation and make the whole process more engaging.

Last but not least, the community can also play a vital role. Maybe there's a neighborhood study group or a community music program that your child can join. Interacting with like-minded peers can provide extra motivation and offer a sense of belonging. Teachers, both in school and music lessons, are also a part of this supportive network. Keep open lines of communication with them to understand your child's progress and areas for improvement.

The goal is to create a holistic ecosystem that nurtures your child's academic and musical talents. With a well-tuned ensemble of family and community support, your child won't just hit the high notes; they'll soar.

#8. Finale - The Symphony of Balanced Living:

As we reach the grand finale of our blog, let's take a moment to reflect on the magical symphony that is your child's life—a blend of academics, music, family, and personal growth. Just like a well-composed symphony has various movements that come together to create a masterpiece, balancing school and music practice is about harmonizing different parts of your child's daily life.

At the end of the day, the goal isn't to turn your child into a prodigy or an academic genius. The aim is to help them develop into well-rounded individuals who can navigate the complexities of life with skill and grace. The discipline, creativity, and focus they gain from juggling both school and music prepare them for any challenges that lie ahead.

Remember that balance doesn't mean a rigid 50-50 split between academics and music. There will be seasons of life when one takes precedence over the other. Maybe it's the weeks leading up to the big recital or the days before final exams. And that's perfectly okay! What matters is that your child learns to adapt, prioritize, and find joy in both their academic and musical journeys.

So, as the school bell rings and the curtain rises on the concert stage, know that your young musician is living a life rich in experiences and lessons that go beyond textbooks and sheet music. They're composing their own unique symphony of balanced living, and you get to be their most avid listener and supporter.

Thank you for tuning into our blog on how to balance academics and musical practice! With the right tools, techniques, and a heart full of passion, your child will not only hit the right notes, but also ace those tests. And there you have it—your method to harmonizing school and music for your child! Thank you for sticking with us through this musical journey of words, and we hope you found some helpful tips to make your family's daily routine a beautiful melody.


Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page