Ep. 106: How to Talk… when kids don’t want to practice, with authors Joanna Faber & Julie King

Photo by August de Richelieu from Pexels

Photo by August de Richelieu from Pexels

As adults, we know what a gift music is, especially the gift of being able to create our own music and express ourselves in this way. And we want that for our kids. But there’s this thing called “practicing the piano”/musical instrument. And kids don’t always want to do this! Co-authors of How to Talk When Kids Won’t Listen, Joanna Faber & Julie King answer the question: How should teachers and parents talk when kids won’t listen about practicing, and practicing becomes the subtitle of their new book: Whining, Fighting, Meltdowns, Defiance, and other Challenges of Childhood?!

Joanna Faber & Julie King
Joanna Faber & Julie King


Joanna Faber and Julie King are the co-authors of the brand new book (released today!), How To Talk When Kids Won’t Listen: Whining, Fighting, Meltdowns, Defiance, & Other Challenges of Childhood. Joanna & Julie also co-authored the best-selling book, How To Talk So Little Kids Will Listen: A Survival Guide to Life with Children Ages 2-7, which has been translated into 22 languages world-wide. These two books are the latest installments in the “How to Talk” series that began with the now-cult-classic book, How To Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk (written by Joanna’s mother Adele Faber & Elaine Mazlish in 1980). Joanna and Julie speak nationally and internationally to schools, businesses, and parent groups; they lead “How To Talk” workshops and support groups online and in person, and provide private consultations.


We discuss:

  • Concepts in the book and specifically how they relate to the inevitable conflicts that come up between children who are in music lessons and the parents & teachers who want them to practice their musical instrument!
  • Julie’s experience as both the daughter of a piano teacher, and a former piano teacher herself.
  • The musical background of Joanna and her mother, Adele Faber (one of the authors of the original How To Talk book)
  • Tools of playfulness; choices; acknowledging feelings with words, writing, and sympathetic sounds; put the child in charge; describe the problem; meet basic needs; problem-solving
  • Why these tips are helpful in ALL relationships
  • Theoretical situational practice
  • Descriptive praise and praise that backfires
  • The tricky balance between praise and critique

Connect/Other Resources

How To Talk series: How To Talk…

In-Episode Promo

This is a quick break to tell you about the digital sheet music site I have used for probably a decade! Sheet Music Direct is powered by music publisher Hal Leonard. They have more than a million sheet music arrangements that you can view – and listen to – right from your device for convenient online shopping and immediate downloads of educational, classical, and pop scores representing any genre and holiday. Prices start at $0.99 and you can both print your purchases instantly and access them on any device, which really comes in handy for our family when we’re out of state visiting Grandma & Grandpa, and they want to hear my kids play the piano! Sheet Music Direct has saved me countless hours of driving to music stores and sifting through bins of sheet music and books to find the right song (and hoping the perfect song isn’t out of stock). Access the latest hits and yesterday’s classics at sheetmusicdirect.com.


Julie describes and plays a version of “Here Comes The Train,” a piece of music her mother, Patricia King, composed and played for her children when Julie was young. Julie says: “The piece was published years ago by Lee Roberts Music, and I see it is still available on Amazon. Sadly, I don’t have a copy of it with me, so I made this recording from memory. The published piece is for a student in roughly the second year of lessons, but the version my mom played when we were kids was more involved… and could go on and on, depending on how much energy we had!

Closing Words

Thank you so much to Julie & Joanna for sharing these tips with us today from their new book, How to Talk When Kids Won’t Listen. We are giving away a free copy of this book to one of you! Email me a screenshot of either your social media post about this episode, or your review on Apple Podcasts or Podchaser.com by the end of August to be entered in the drawing. My email is mindy@mpetersonmusic.com. There are links in the show notes to this book, the other How to Talk books, and ways to connect with Julie & Joanna. There’s also a transcription of this episode in the show notes As always, you’ll find me on email (mindy@mpetersonmusic.com), Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn. All links are on my website and in the episode details right in your podcast app. Thank you so much for joining me today. Until next week, may your life be enhanced with music.

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