To Nourish A Budding Musician
As a parent, you may one day discover that you have a budding musician on your hands. The next logical step would typically be to seek out professional instruction for your tot, but many well-meaning parents rush into this critical phase without knowing what is best for their child. Take into consideration a few aspects of music lessons, and what effects may result.
While it may seem obvious to most, discovering first-hand from the youngster what he or she really wants to pursue is the first and most important step. Suddenly depositing them into a music class or series of lessons that they are not interested in rarely results in a musician. More often, frustration and tension ensue, so be sure that your enthusiasm is echoed to some degree.
Young children around ages 3-5 seem to benefit most from group lessons, especially during the early childhood stages because they teach social skills that will enrich development. A very popular example is the Suzuki method of teaching. This was developed by Dr. Shinichi Suzuki using the same principles used when learning language – listening, imitating and repeating, focusing on ear-training, producing a beautiful tone and good instrumental technique.
Slightly older children between the age of 6-12 may want to continue with private lessons or stay with a group ensemble such as a band or choir. While private lessons may help to build confidence (as opposed to having to perform in front of peers), group classes can inspire teamwork and the aptitude to harmonize and function as a cohesive unit.
Some instruments do not come in children’s sizes and require considerable fine motor skills, so parents may choose to wait until the child is in perhaps 4th or 5th grade. Consider also your youngster’s attention span, reading skills and time for daily practice. While drums, for example, are mostly basic rhythm, a more complex instrument like piano or guitar might prove to be an insurmountable learning experience to a younger boy or girl.
On the vocal side of things, while it is generally quite easy to find local singing lessons, many experts advise waiting until a child is 12 or 13 to begin private tutoring. Training the voice is demanding on the vocal chords and putting too much stress on them before puberty may cause damage to them. Prior to that, singing in groups and choirs are excellent methods to begin a vocal education.
Learning a musical instrument or sing requires a measure of discipline most kids are not ready for. Many teachers recommend a 6 year old practice at least 10-15 minutes a day, with older children practicing progressively longer periods. Some children may become frustrated because they expected learning music would be easier. As with the Suzuki method, parental support through this stage is essential.
If after these and other considerations you are still confident your child would enjoy and benefit from music lessons, by all means enroll them! You may be the proud parent of the next prodigy.