Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Children and Music Lessons

Here is what I have learned about children and music lessons. I'm sure other mothers can handle them in different ways, but this is what works for me and my children.

1. Music should not be a source of bad feeling (for any length of time longer than a few minutes). In our family, no one is going to take lessons or practice against their will. Generally. There are times when a child, though committed to her instrument in general, is not quite in the mood to practice. We generally push on through this, reschedule our practice, or resort to bribery! However, if this disinclination is recurrent or entrenched, we quit lessons. There's enough in life to fight over without fighting over music!

2. Sometimes practice is frustrating. When it is, I make a point of sitting beside the child and either offering advice or keeping quiet, as needed. Encouragement is good. Shiny pennies offered as incentives for good tries are good. High fives are good.

3. Plan on learning along with your child. With my cellist, who started lessons at five, I attended every lesson for at least four years. And paid attention. My attention was invaluable in getting Clara through a practice session when she was a very beginner and simply could not remember what she had been told. Same with Bella on the guitar. I will say that they have both far surpassed me in knowledge by now!!

4. Have the teacher write down a complete practice list each week. This eliminates any "confusion" about what is supposed to be practiced, should your child "forget".

5. Most important of all, plan to sit with your child for every practice session. I mean it. Every day. Until they don't want or need you anymore. If music is important enough for your child's time, it is important enough for yours. Make it a special time to pay attention to your child and what she is learning. Be excited. Bring the nursing baby or some handwork, but give her your attention. In my experience, this is the dealmaker on raising a musical child. And don't worry, the day will eventually come when she won't need your seat in that chair. But until then, enjoy!


Isabella in the 21st Century said...

Wow, this one spoke to me. I do not sit with my child when she practises. I will do now. Thanks for the advice!

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much! It sounds so simple, yet is such wise advice. From now on, I will do this when my sons are practicing. I know that any words of praise and encouragement I will offer will be multiplied in the hearing.

Amy said...

Wonderful, practical advice. I'm going to be giving my oldest piano lessons this fall and I've always believed that if a child really doesn't like the lessons or the practice, it's just not meant to be. Of course, my husband and I hope that some of our children will play an instrument :)

There were a few times as a child when I lost interest and quit piano lessons, and then after a break went back to them again with renewed interest. I even took lessons again as an adult and started taking exams through the Royal Conservatory (something I was too afraid to do as a child).

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