Many parents help their children to enjoy all the benefits that a musical education can bring. However, there are also an increasing number of adults who either took lessons as a child and want to revisit music making after a hiatus or have never really played but have always wanted to. I have frequently made the observation that in all the many years that I have worked in music stores I have never heard one single adult complain that taking music lessons was a waste of time when they were a child. On the other hand, if I’ve heard one – I’ve heard fifty adults say that they wished they had learned to play as a child or wished that they had taken their musical education more seriously when they had the chance. Here are some benefits of learning an instrument as an adult. Read more
A beautiful and culturally rich life is not something that just happens. It typically must be designed and nurtured into a young person from an early age. I will tell you about one parent who did just that. He pointed his metaphorical bat at the bleachers and knocked it out of the park. It was quite a remarkable achievement.
First, understand that I am really on your side. Being a parent is a tough job. For one thing nearly everyone thinks that they can do a better job at it than you and they will tell you so if they get the chance. This is especially true if they have never had children of their own. Today’s parent has to cope with more distractions and influences trying to capture the minds and hearts of their kids than probably any other generation in history. Having raised children of my own I can sympathize with your plight but today things are even more desperate then when I was raising kids. It seems as though our society has given us very few tools and many challenges to being an effective parent but when it comes down to the nitty gritty we still need to be the parent. We all want to be friends with our kids; we all want to be appreciated and liked by them but sometimes what they need are boundaries, guidance and some degree of tough love, even when they don’t want it and resent our “input”. One consolation is that often when they are grown and especially if they have kids of their own they will appreciate and respect what we did for them in guiding their lives, even though they may have resisted it at the time.
That may seem like a silly question but you would be surprised at how many people, even skilled piano players, have absolutely no idea what goes on inside the big wooden box or even where the design originally came from. I’d like to give you a quick thumbnail sketch of what a piano is, a smidge of its history and how it works. I will try to keep exotic nomenclature to a minimum (backcheck, key bushing, agraffe, sostenudo, etc.).
If you’ve missed the first four (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4) award winning parts of this series (well, I awarded myself some Oreos for my good work if that counts) we are discussing the tremendous value of a musical education to children and how we can help our kids benefit from music. It is one of the greatest gifts we can give them. Before we go any further, let me touch on something that I missed. I said in an earlier post that I was going to talk about what we can do for the really little guys – infants, toddlers and preschoolers, to help them get a piece of the musical action. Have you ever noticed how little ones dance or sway to music when it is being played? It actually helps them to develope their motor skills. Young children love music and they are especially attracted to music with a nice beat, fun lyrics and a happy melody. Conversely, if you want to encourage that serial killer streak in your little ones do put on some good hardcore rap, screamo, death metal or something of that ilk. Don’t shoot the messenger folks. Singing with our young children is a wonderful activity that will foster a love of music and also will strengthen the emotional bonds we have with them. I would encourage you to help them develope a love of different kinds of music: classical, baroque, bossa nova, folk, Celtic, etc. It’s all good and it all builds the foundation. If you can stream Pandora on your smart phone or computer you can create your own custom music channels for your children. The Creator gave us music as a great perk so let’s share the best of it with our kids.
I am going to give you some tools today to help you give your child one of the best leg-ups you can in life, that is, learning to play a musical instrument. Before we start let’s take a quick look at some of the benefits we have seen so far in a musical education for a young person.
- Improved math and science scores
- Improved over all scholastic achievement
- Better social skills
- Greater self-confidence
- Higher I.Q.
- Greater appreciation for the arts
- A great stress relieving tool
- A positive outlet of self-expression
I really had great aspirations. No, I really did. I was going to do all of this tedious research and give you the top five studies that have shown the dramatic, profound and even incredible impact that a musical education has on children, especially on a young child. Take my word for it, it is really is pretty incredible and I was going to give you this ponderous and somewhat tedious blog post – copiously footnoted with quotes and the credentials of the quotees (Those quoted? Pontificators? Whatever). Well, that will need to wait for another week but if you do any research at all on the web you will find a surfeit of scholarly articles about how a musical education supercharges a child’s life. Higher I.Q.? You bet. Greater self-confidence? Indisputably. Improve math and science acumen? Like mini-Einsteins. Social skills, poise and ability to perform under pressure? Think Michael Buble vs. your typical code monkey (and my apologies to all you non-musician code monkeys).
Once upon a time things were different – at least in the area of music education and music enrichment for children. Back in the day, a music education for a young person was a very serious matter and the student was expected to take it seriously. Teachers would interview students to make sure that they were worthy of the teacher’s valuable time. A month or more would be spent just learning how to approach the instrument (you hold the bow like this, you hold your hands like this at the piano, you hold your horn like this). Forget learning any songs at first. Scales were the thing and eventually sight reading of course. Note values (duration and pitch) were sometimes tenaciously drilled before the child was ever allowed to touch the instrument. Improvisation was strictly off limits until the child was old enough to vote. Obviously, this was before Shin’ichi Suzuki came on the scene.
Wouldn’t it be great if every child had the burning desire to play music? Wouldn’t it be wonderful if your son or daughter had tenacity in practicing, wasn’t intimidated by learning a new skill, was never distracted by all of the myriad of other attractions and entertainments that beg for attention, didn’t have other commitments that interfered with practice and never, ever became discouraged? These are some of those horse wishes that I think we can lump in with winning the lottery, becoming the heir of a long-lost rich uncle and having our family come into our room and sing a lovely hymn to our greatness as a spouse and parent. Right, that will happen. It seems like a truism that nothing worth having or achieving is ever brought into our life without some effort or investment. Likewise, having children who become adept at making music does require some work on the part of the child and the parent. The good news is that, unlike that unknown rich uncle dying and leaving us a fortune, having children that love music and will practice without a court order is definitely doable. Here are a few ideas:
How many times have we heard the phrase “A great gift idea.”? This is a tag line that warms the heart of every retailer and every suit on Madison Ave. If we are honest many of these great gifts we were talked into buying wind up stuffed in a drawer somewhere and eventually land in a land fill. What are the goals for these great gifts? Yes, there are the rather selfish aims of making someone like you or easing your conscious because, after all, they gave YOU a nice gift on YOUR birthday and you don’t want to seem like a complete Scrooge, but the ultimate aim is usually to make someone happy or improve their life to some small extent. What if you could give a gift that could make a DRAMATIC – HUGE – MONUMENTAL change in someone’s life? What if you could change their life for the better in just about every way possible? Here are the benefits:
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