Music is such an important part of our lives and culture that often our first exposure to music is in the womb. As children, music is a source of fun and joy, and can often be utilized as a learning mechanism for language development and skill building.
Music itself has been shown to improve cognitive development, raise test scores, and promote happiness and higher self esteem. Because of the positive virtues of such a beneficial creative outlet, it’s no wonder that learning music is so high on parents’ value systems.
How do you introduce music lessons to someone?
Chances are, if you’re having a discussion about whether or not to begin music lessons, the potential student already has a relationship with music in general. That may include being a fan, an active listener, or someone who is actively trying to learn on their own. As a parent, if you’re wondering how to introduce music lessons to your child, consider a few factors before making the jump.
- Do they show interest on their own?
- How often do they engage with music?
- Is their interest organic or does it require incentivizing?
Children who have a natural interest in music will generally fare better when beginning lessons. If the interest is primarily that of the parent’s, children will often lose motivation quickly. If interaction with music is seldom, perhaps initiating more frequent interactions with music to gauge how this affects their overall interest. And if it needs incentivizing in order to simply participate, this is not a great start or easily overcome.
Provided the kids show interest, have regular engagement with music and find themselves singing along with tunes or tinkering with an instrument by themselves without prompting, this is a recipe for success. Parents or family members are a perfect person to slowly introduce an instructional aspect that can help inspire a child to create more and dig deeper into their relationship with music. Trying online group classes is a great way to gain exposure to music instruction without committing to frequent, regular lessons. Group classes tend to be more topically oriented, which can pique the interest of even the most discerning student.
Learning from friends is a great tool to pique interest as well. Starting slow is important, but consistency is key to success. Once there is some momentum and the child is interested in pursuing more learning, professional help from a private teacher is the best way to go.
Should I encourage my child to join the band at school?
Joining the band at school is an awesome way to get exposure to music without the extra cost and time commitment outside school. In band or orchestra, kids can explore a world of musical opportunities and learn about instruments that could be a great fit.
For those students that join band or orchestra in school, some private instruction through the school is common as well. It’s an easy way to get interested and get involved without the significant cost of private lessons. Provided the kids are amenable to the suggestion, parents should encourage kids to participate in school when possible. There is a social component that creates added incentive to practice and keep skills sharp.
How do you encourage the love of music?
The most important thing to remember is that music plays a different part in every person’s life. What one person loves and is passionate about may not resonate with someone else. The important thing is to help foster an environment where a student can simply build their own relationship to music.
Once parents or teachers put strict walls around what they insist a child or student should learn, the relationship to music is no longer completely personal to the student, but rather takes on a certain amount of influence from the parent or teacher who is setting those goals. If you’re encouraging music lessons or even just a love of music, then the encourager has to remove themselves from the equation entirely.
Listening to music in the household is a great way to begin that development. Ask the child or student what they want to listen to. Engage them in the conversation about what’s playing and validate their decisions about what music they enjoy. If there is joy from listening, then offering to help give the child or student tools to recreate that anytime through playing music could be really effective.
Browsing a list of online group classes may motivate a student to further engage in learning, provided a topic is of interest to them. They’re inexpensive and often free, with no commitment. This can help foster a growing passion for music without create any burdensome expectations.
How do I motivate someone to practice music?
This is not an uncommon question, but the answer will differ depending on who the student is and who is giving the advice. Children and adults have very different value systems and motivating factors.
One of the easiest ways to motivate anyone to practice is to involve them in group performance activities. Joining a band where they will be held accountable for learning their parts of music is a great way to put pressure on someone to practice. However, not all respond to that kind of motivation. The pressure of performance of playing with others isn’t something everyone wants to do, nor is it something that can be forced. Often the pressure can drive some students further away from music.
Positive reinforcement techniques can be helpful to give students rewards for time spent playing or practicing their instrument. Developing systems that reward accomplishments and achievements are other ways that inspire students to work towards goals. Goals setting is a really effective tool for all ages.
Breaking down assignments and time requirements is another helpful and effective way to get students to buy-in and practice. Understanding that significant practice time is not necessary, but small bits of time to help build muscle memory can help remove the pressure and burden of students feeling like they have to sit down for hours at a time.
How can I help a loved one not be afraid to try music lessons?
Music lessons can cause some anxiety for some who just want a simple relationship with music and to play songs they love without the pressure of performance and judgment. Overcoming music lesson anxiety can be achieved pretty easily by removing the barriers that cause that anxiety to begin with.
Discussing music lessons often is a great way to normalize the experience and take away any connotation that there is pressure involved. Introducing music lessons early with no pressure to achieve certain accomplishments can help remove that anxiety for many.
How to introduce music lessons is a question for many families. Using school resources and opportunities is a very simple and natural way to do so. Start slow and allow the student to find the passion on their own. If no passion exists, lessons can still be very successful provided the student has the latitude to define their own objectives with regard to the music relationship they’re building.
Should I force my child to take music lessons?
Parents will often disagree about the answer to this question. Certainly, music lessons offer a benefit regardless of whether a child is doing them because they want to or not. However, forcing anyone to do it will have unwanted repercussions that may carry beyond the lifespan of the lessons themselves.
There is an acclimation period through which students should persevere. Lessons may be challenging, frustrating, and difficult. But with any activity, the hardship is what will also stimulate the most growth, not only as a musician but as a person. We overcome challenges, remain patient through frustration, and persevere through difficulties. These are life skills and will give students tools to deal with life challenges greater than music.
In short, it’s not wise to force children to take music lessons, but there are so many ways to motivate and encourage them to try it. From the variety of instruments they can try to the types or repertoire that may inspire them, there are countless ways to keep it interesting and reap the rewards.