There are some secrets to keeping your child interested and growing with music. We’ve all heard the myths about learning an instrument - kids should always start with piano, 5 is the best age to start, practice makes perfect. New evidence and information can allow your child to have more fun with music and keep them engaged. Here are five questions to ask:
1. Are they playing the instrument they want to play?
Most kids start with the piano because it’s what parents think is the best instrument. It has many attributes and is a beautiful instrument. However, one misnomer is that it will make your child a better guitar/drums/ukulele/musician. While it offers a “word processor” of music, it won’t make your little one a better guitar player. Each instrument needs to learn different muscles, positioning and body control. Plus, if they’ve asked for drum lessons, there may be resentment for “forced” piano lessons.
2. Is your child at the right level of maturity?
Most parents ask, “what age is the best to start?” We have seen 4-year-olds totally rock lessons and have had a 9-year-old ignore everyone and their lesson (although that was a rare case.) Your child’s maturity level, i.e. their ability to stay focused for the class, and retain the information they teachable, are the essential factors to consider when deciding whether lessons are right for them. Music does take dedication, and the more a child gets out of a class, the more they will succeed. Most schools should offer a trial lesson. We offer a free trial at our school to get a feel for what lessons are like.
3. Do you know how your child learns?
Music is a fantastic combination of physical, intellectual and emotional responses. Some children need less time to practice—some need to wrap their brains around tricky concepts. Looking at your child’s activities at a macro level can give insight into how they will be successful for good practice time, lesson time and practice sessions. Rushing from Hebrew class to guitar lessons might stress them out. They might not want you to hear them practice. They might love for you to listen to them play their songs. Some of these can be trial and error. It is common sense; kids want to be encouraged and noticed.
4. Are they set up for success??
You can easily set your child up for success with a few simple tips. First, having a snack and water ahead of time will garner great results in the lesson. Second, having the music/instrument/materials organized and ready for practice and the class will increase success for both! Creating a practice space helps at home. They can help make it too! It gives them some accountability and is easy for any age.
5. Tip for Online lessons!
There’s nothing more annoying than a lost or broken internet connection. We’ve all seen it; however, what makes a class memorable is ensuring a stable internet connection. Have your lesson time when there aren’t other computers online, especially for video meetings. Using WiFi over 4G or LTE on your phone will always provide a better experience. Finally, newer equipment will often give a better connection. A new device or instrument can create a change in excitement!
Bonus 1! Is your child having fun?
Learning music is a balance between science and art. It can’t be all practice all the time. For example, allowing your 5-year-old to write silly songs is very valuable! Music is about learning a skill; however, here is some tough love - music is for them, not you. Ouch! Developing a good practice habit doesn’t have to be about nagging. Look for small wins, like going to the instrument every day, for example.
Bonus 2! Are you celebrating the wins?
If the only thing your child hears is “did you practice??” that can be discouraging. If you’re excited, your child will be excited. Build that excitement with celebrations. From the smallest of finger movements to epic long pieces, celebrating the wins and creating memorable moments is an incredible motivator. Everyone learns differently, so mark the hurdles and laugh at mistakes.