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.
Forgive me if I become philosophical here. One of the common denominators in our exploration in this series is that the time that we spend working with our kids and helping them develop musical skills and an appreciation of sonic beauty is every bit as valuable as the money we spend on music lessons and instruments and probably more. One of my huge, gigantic frustrations in working with children in my shop is when I ask a child to play a little something to test out the instrument and they have trouble even playing a super simple melody or scale. “How long have you been playing, Billy?” I ask. Three and a half years he tells me. I die a little bit inside. Who is minding the store here? Billy doesn’t need to be a musical genius to play a few songs well after that much time. If he was being graded for music like he is graded on math or English he would get a nice fat F. The private music teacher only sees a student 30 minutes a week and off for the summer and the public school teacher has twenty-four other budding musicians to work with and not much time to do it. The point is that we have to reach that point where, as parents, we look in the mirror and ask ourselves if we love our kids enough to invest time with them to help them excel in something as important as this. “I’m not a musician and I’m tired after work,” mom or dad says. I sympathize and you don’t need to be Yo-Yo Ma to mentor your kids in their lessons. You can learn together. Many of the modern music methods have CDs that go with them to make life much, much easier. I will let you in on a secret, I don’t think that I personally spent enough time with my kids on these types of activities growing up. I wish that I could go back and change that but like the guy says time keeps slipping into the future and so we cannot go back. Imagine someone on their death bed, taking one of their last few breaths to say, “I wish that I had spent more time at work and at the gym and less with my family.” It’s not going to happen. This is not to discourage you because if you are reading this, then you want to bless and nurture your kids. Be a part of this wonderful process and you will not regret it.