My Son Is Starting School Close To 6 Yrs Old Playing For Life – How to Keep a Child Engaged in Music Lessons From Early Childhood Through Teens

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Playing For Life – How to Keep a Child Engaged in Music Lessons From Early Childhood Through Teens

How many parents have given their children years of music lessons, only for the child to announce one day: “I quit!”

It can be heartbreaking for the parent, especially because of the thousands of dollars they may have invested in lessons and instruments.

But inevitably, years later, the former teenager will say, “I shouldn’t have stopped the violin (or cello or viola)!” I wish my parents made me stick to it!”

Being the director of a music school for the past ten years, and a parent of three (an 8-year-old, a teenager, and an ex-teen), I’ve seen this sort of thing happen time and time again. again. So I have made it one of my main missions to create an environment that keeps children in music, from childhood to teenagers. Here are some of my most powerful ways to keep kids engaged in, and passionate about, their music.

1. Start them young – on piano. I have found that children who start with piano, and then come into my violin or other string instrument class, always do better than children who did not receive early piano training . Violin and other stringed instruments are difficult, because of the many aspects that need to be focused on at the same time. It is also physically demanding. Getting the hang of piano is easier for pre-k kids. Once the student already has a basic understanding of music, including reading notes, rhythm, and playing, they are freer to focus on the technical challenges of the stringed instrument. I now have tots take my introductory piano class, and I encourage parents to continue those lessons until they start my violin class.

2. Don’t go alone! How many parents sign their kids up for private music lessons, only to have them refuse to go because they don’t know anyone? But the only child will participate in almost any activity if at least one friend is present! Group beginner music classes can be a lot of fun for the younger set, and are especially ideal for children aged 3½ years through 5½, depending on their maturity.

3. Children who play together like to play together! The more opportunities the children have to play, the more they will improve. In addition to private lessons, as soon as the child is eligible, we place him in a playgroup. At our school, graduates of our introductory violin class will enroll in private lessons and in our training orchestra. More advanced players join our more advanced children’s orchestra. Older students are encouraged to join regional youth orchestras. Ninety-nine percent of the time, once the initial excitement of playing an instrument has passed, it’s a group that plays that the kids get excited about. Children love to be with other children! Participation leads to increased practice, especially if the director or musical director connects well with children.

In addition to private lessons and orchestra, many participate in our chamber music program. I started the chamber music program with four kindergarten girls who knew each other from orchestra. After a few months of playing together they called themselves bff (‘best friends forever’) they have been playing together for 3 years by now. They have performed for our communicator, senior centers, local schools, and even at our local farmers market. What I found was that the children in the fourth grade were growing faster and playing better, so I decided to create more groups and a chamber music program.

4. Keep them in mind! It is rare that a child succeeds in covering the warm feelings, good attention, and sense of achievement that they feel after a performance, (not to mention the friendship with their fellow actors) . Whether he plays in a studio recital, a solo competition; or with their youth orchestra in Carnegie hall, performances are essential to maintain a child’s interest, and develop their playing. Most children who only do private lessons, and have no performance opportunities, eventually lose interest and drop out.

5. Stay positive! When in doubt, do not shout, threaten, believe, or threaten to give up the lessons. None of the negative stuff works, and it just leads to more frustration for you and your child. Even when it feels like your child is not meeting your or the teacher’s expectations, stay positive. Maybe your child is just going through a rough patch.

To get through, with the little ones, give small rewards for working every day or every week. It could be a sticker or a trip to the toy store. In their teens, you can relax their exercise schedule if it feels like too much of a burden. When my teenage son decided he wanted to quit playing the saxophone, his teacher suggested he just practice five minutes a day. He did this for over a year, continuing to participate in various orchestras and jazz groups. It worked! He continued to play saxophone through high school, and received a major music scholarship to college. Although he has decided not to make music his career, he still makes money with his instrument through teaching and gigging.

6. Summer and school holidays are a great time to move on! Instead of taking a break from music lessons, vacations are actually a great time to make progress. It is an opportunity for life-changing musical events or simply to achieve a lot. Enroll your child in a summer music program that offers something different in the way of lessons and orchestra or chamber music. For teenagers, there are many programs away from home, in beautiful settings in the mountains or in the countryside. The more your child improves, the more they will enjoy playing, and the more they will feel good about themselves. It is the child who is left behind who will want to stop working or worse, quit.

7. Don’t go overboard. Although we want our children to be well-rounded, it is better for their minds to excel in one thing. And if that same thing plays a musical instrument, it will have great benefits. Skill on a musical instrument separates them from their peers. They begin to recognize themselves as a musician, which is great for their self-esteem. Excellent performance at a musical instrument – especially strings – will help in applications to art schools and programs, and eventually, colleges! Most colleges have an orchestra with many seats to fill. Usually a lot more violin, viola, cello and bass players are needed!

8. Stay committed. Committing to your child’s music education may be the hardest part of raising your child, but I can say from personal experience, it’s worth it! The experiences your child will have as a musician will shape their life (not to mention their brain) in a way that cannot be duplicated in any other way. Music promotes self-esteem, teamwork, and good study habits, and has shaped the lives of many young people in a profound way.

By taking all these steps it will be much more likely that your child will develop a lifelong love for the instrument and for music.

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