"I have a Soaring String student in my life, but I have not a musical bone in my body. How can I help my student be successful?"
Not to worry! You don't have to be a professional musician, or even know how to read music, to be able to help your student be musically successful. Here are some tips that may help you get started.
1) POSITIVE PRAISE!!!
Instruments are tough to learn, and strings are at the top of that list. There's no button or key or valves to push that helps you make the note come out, and no fret (guitar) to guide you. There's a lot to remember about what hand does what and goes where. And let's not even talk about the sounds stringed instruments make the first few times you put the bow to them. (Warning - it is not always the most pleasant of sounds!) Having someone at home to encourage a student is really the BEST thing that you can do for them! Especially in the beginning, it's easy for students to become very frustrated. A positive word does wonders :)
2) SCHEDULING PRACTICE TIME
In order to get better at anything in life, you have to practice. Instruments are no exception! Help your student find a time that works for them (and your family) that they can practice during. Beginning students should practice a minimum of 5 days a week, 30 minutes each time; returning students should be practicing a little more. I find that scheduling practice time at the same time as homework is completed is a good way to make sure that the practicing gets done. In some cases, I've had students that liked to practice first thing in the morning before school. Whatever works!
3) SET THEM UP FOR SUCCESS
Once a practice time is established, a quiet place in the home is usually the best place for practice. A bedroom with a door that closes is great, but anywhere that the student can concentrate is fine - living room, dining room, cellar, kitchen, or the funniest place I've ever had a student practice, IN the bathtub! (Obviously not while taking a bath; this student just really liked how they sounded while standing in the tub playing.)
Most people practice with a music stand. Some people use folding stands, some use heavy black metal stands. Ideally a stand for your student would be great - and often times is financially impractical. If you have a skirt/pants hanger (the hanger with two clips on it), and don't mind putting a nail into a wall, you can hang the music off of the hanger from the wall and use it as a makeshift music stand! The music should always be at eye level for the student, so if a nail in the wall isn't doable, hang the hanger from somewhere like a cabinet handle, door hinge... be creative!
4) BE A GOOD AUDIENCE
Have your student play you something that they recently mastered - it could be an entire song, or just a part of a bigger song they're working on. Even if you aren't a musician, I bet you would know if a note or two in a popular song (think "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star") was not quite right.
5) ASK QUESTIONS!
Ask your student to tell you about their lesson, what they learned, what's difficult for them, what they think they can do the best, what their favorite song is to play... the possibilities are endless! It's also fun to have them pretend to be the teacher and model what good and bad posture looks like, etc.
6) MORE POSITIVE PRAISE, MORE SUPPORTIVE PRAISE, MORE PRAISE PRAISE PRAISE!!!
Your student is starting something that is, quite frankly, AWESOME! Learning an instrument is fun, but they are actually doing SO much more than "just" learning to play. They are reshaping their brains by applying critical thinking, math, learning/reading a new language. They are learning to think for themselves, to be responsible, to work with others, to be part of something larger than themselves. And, of course, they are learning that sometimes, music can speak to us and others in ways that words simply cannot.
Enjoy watching them learn a new instrument (and more about themselves). Be their musical cheerleader! Maybe they will even inspire YOU to learn an instrument (it's never "too late" to start)!