Ah… the sound of your child happily playing a musical instrument. And yes, even if they’re not (yet) sounding like Eric Clapton or Yo-yo Ma, what counts is they find joy and confidence in playing. And if they like playing, they will keep playing. And if they keep playing, they will not only get better, but also have the gift of a lifelong passion.
So, how do you keep that youthful fire burning or even light that spark? Here are 5 tips…
Start early — Whether through Kindermusik or other community programs, give your child an early introduction to music. As humans, we’re hard-wired to respond to percussion, melody, and harmony. The sooner your child enters this world, the more excited they’ll be about playing. It can even help socially. Music is a language, and talking and listening to other “musicians” (no matter how young at the beginning) is a lifelong social boost.
Encourage them — Your child picks up on your cues. Playing classic rock or jazz in the kitchen, or just dancing around the living room, brings the joy of melody and rhythm to your home. If convenient, keep instruments out in the open so kids can pick them up and “noodle” whenever the urge hits. Listen to their playing and give them your attention (even if they’re not quite ready for Carnegie Hall or Madison Square Garden).
Make practice enjoyable — Kids all have their own practice styles. Some have laser beam focus and play a long time. Others only play for short intervals. It doesn’t matter as long as they’re playing. If they’re sprinters more than marathoners, that’s okay. Even ten minutes a day adds up. Being respectful of their natural rhythm is crucial to keeping this endeavor light and fun.
Let them experiment — If they’re into piano one year, and want to try the electric guitar the next, let them. It can take time to find the instrument. Some people change several times before hitting upon the one. Music can also be found in singing. If they’ve always played an instrument, but want to join the school choir, that’s great. Allow your child to try on many musical hats.
Take Private Lessons — A professional teacher can take your child to the next level. A good teacher motivates, assesses strengths and weaknesses, and gives practice tips. The better a child does, the more it shores up his or her confidence. There’s also something to be said for an outside instructor, rather than a well-meaning, but more “subjective” family member. Most children are better focused and feel more accomplished with a professional teacher.
Let’s face it. Music makes life better. Whether your child ends up playing Lincoln Center, in the local string ensemble or the neighborhood garage band, they will gain many gifts – fellowship, a sense of achievement, and more than anything… lifelong passion.