Monday, November 20, 2006

Tips on Helping Your Child Learn to Play Music by Cyndie King

As a music teacher that teaches private lessons, I am so excited when I get a call from a parent that wants their child to learn to play music by taking lessons. My excitement comes from the fact that I believe that learning to play music is one of the most enjoyable lessons of life that a person can experience. Learning to play music at an early age means that a child actually is learning a new language. Just as children pick up languages quicker than adults, the same is true of music. This also includes the manual dexterity issues as well as music related thinking skills such as improvising and ear training. As I believe is true with formal education, the single most important determinant in the success of a child in learning to play music is the support and the involvement of the parents. As lessons begin, here are some tips that supportive parents can do.
Instill realistic practice goals and times
The first question a lot of people ask is how much should my child practice? For a young child whose attention span is not very long, it can be as short as few minutes a day, later 15 minutes a day and then increase to 30 minutes a day. This can vary from child to child and is really based on the maturity level rather than the age level.
Watch for frustration
As a parent and teacher, you want to make sure that the practice time is as fun as possible. As a parent you can pay close attention to their moods, and then act accordingly by delaying, shortening or canceling their practice time. If they are too tired or hungry to practice, the practice time will not be effective.
Play Music around the House and in the Car
Just like learning a new language, hearing music whether playing or singing or listening will help them in the long run as they are learning to play music for themselves.
Introduce them to different Music Venues
No, parents, we don't want to take them to the local bar. There are always concerts, festivals, and workshops where they can be introduced to different types of music. My belief is to not choose for them but introduce them. You never know when they might see a musician that will inspire them to achieve new heights.
Playing With Others
As they get older, introduce them to the possibility of playing with others or in groups. Some of the lessons that can be learned while playing with others are learning how to play a solo, continuing to play even if you make a mistake, and learning how to play loud and soft with others.
Don't Quit
Learning how to play any type of music on any type of instrument is a lifelong journey. I encourage parents to help their children stick with it. This will be a decision that they will never regret.

About the Author
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