With the reasons to get children into music growing each year, there’s little wonder why many parents are signing their kids up for lessons at the beginning of school. If you plan on joining in, you may feel the need to rush in order to get your children set up before the holidays. But there’s no race. In fact, taking the time to prepare both your children and yourself for this commitment can improve their success.
Before you enroll your kids in music lessons, it’s important to keep the following tips in mind.
1. Choose the instrument together
You’ve heard horror stories about other parents who sign their child up for piano lessons, and the kid hates it. Practice (or the lack thereof) becomes an eternal conflict between parent and child, and the only time the young pupil touches the keys is during their lesson — an expensive waste of time considering the child’s complete disinterest in the entire endeavour.
The fastest way to doom your child’s musical education is by forcing them to learn an instrument they have no interest in. Music lessons are supposed to be fun—which they won’t be having if they’re too busy resenting both you and their instrument. Avoid inspiring apathy in the entire endeavour by asking your child which instrument they would like to learn. Give suggests based on the music they like to listen to. By giving them that simple bit of agency in their choice, you can make sure they stick with their lessons.
2. You don’t have to buy the instrument outright
Whether your child ends up selecting the piano, violin, or guitar, it will be expensive to buy outright — especially when you consider your kid might not stick with their chosen instrument for very long. Though the number one reason why your child might want to stop taking lessons is because they don’t enjoy it, there are plenty of other reasons why they may lose interest in the piano or guitar. They may end up not liking that particular instrument or they may have too many activities constraining their time. Whatever the case may be, you don’t want to invest in something only to have no use for it within a year.
Renting is a great alternative to buying a piano or violin outright, as your child will be able to dip their toe in with none of the commitment. In Canada music stores typically offer rentals for exactly this reason. You can rent for as little or as long as you need to determine whether or not you should purchase their own.
3. Your role as parent and cheerleader
You may think your role starts and stops with getting your child to their music lesson on time, but you’d be wrong. As a parent, you need to make sure your child is putting in their time to practice in order to ensure their lessons are sinking in. You can help them by creating a regular practice time each day in a warm, comfortable spot in the house. Don’t be above bribing them! By establishing a reward system for every successful practice they complete you can ensure they touch the keys or strings each day.
On the flip side of the enforcer role, you want to be their fan — and not a silent one either! Though their first attempts behind the ivories or frets may not sound like music to your ears, they’ll get there one day — but they won’t if they feel like they aren’t valued. Encourage them and compliment the improvements they make from week to week. Praise is a simple thing to give but it has a profound impact on their confidence.
These three tips may seem simple, but they can make a real difference. Ultimately, the biggest take away from this is to spend time with your children and make sure you make the effort to support their education.