Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Non-Musical Parents Supporting Musical Kids


by Betty Galvan

Introducing music or a musical instrument to our children is one of the greatest gifts we can give as parents. Listening and concentration skills are strengthened in our kids when they learn to play. It also promotes discipline, structure, time management, and increases memory, math and reading skills. We all know every child can benefit, but what happens when we, the parents, don't know how to play?  

When our oldest son expressed an interest in playing piano at the age of five, we knew that although he was young, he could probably start. My husband and I were hesitant, not because we thought it would be a passing phase of interest in our child, but because he and I don't even know how to read music, let alone play an actual instrument. 

Like any activity we sign up for, we talked to Diego and reminded him of the rule we have always had in place when starting something new-we start and we don't quit. After the assigned dates are completed, we can then talk about his decision to continue or not. Jose and I knew that piano was going to be challenging...for us! There had to be a way for us to help Diego even though we were completely unaware of the process. We knew that the benefits outweighed our personal hesitation. So we all gave it a go! 

We had to make sure that like any activity or sport we had to follow these guidelines as a family to support Diego with piano playing:  

Make practicing part of the routine. We have added piano practice to our after-school schedule. Right after homework, dinner and bath, piano is scheduled right in there as well.  

Keep constant communication with teacher. If possible, be there for drop-off and pick-up. Seeing the teacher once a week, even for a few minutes, gives us the opportunity to touch base. Diego also carries a special notebook to class and back home so his teacher and I can send each other notes.  

Help practice when possible. We can do musical note flash cards together. I quiz Diego and it is like a game to him. I also sit with him or near him when he plays. His brothers are around to benefit from listening and watching, and Diego doesn't feel isolated. 

Reinforce music as much as possible. Find music to play that isolates your child's instrument of choice. And take the time to point out when you see someone playing live (the organ player at church, the guitar player on the subway, and the mariachi band at the wedding). 

Listen. Be available when your child should be practicing. We don't know all the songs but once in a while you'll recognize a tune even though you didn't know the name of the song! The more your child plays, the more you'll recognize mistakes. It's hilarious when Diego is surprised that I caught a mistake! 

Allow for free play. Every so often Diego just wants to "mess around" on his keyboard. Why not? Practicing doesn't have to be so structured. Who knows? You might have a little composer in your home.  

Be supportive. There will be tears (and I'm not talking about them being induced by "tiger mom" behavior)! There will be times when playing an instrument is frustrating. We take a deep breath, a break, a snack and we resume or not. We always make sure to make a note for his teacher if something is too difficult. I can't help-but she will!! 

Enjoy! First and foremost, kids should have fun with any activity they pick up. And the earlier you expose them to extracurricular activities, the easier it will be to find out what they love - or don’t love.  

Good luck!  

Betty
 
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Betty Galvan, is helping her readers "find the positive and seek the benefits" over at her blog, MyFriendBettySays.com.

She is the mother of three beautiful little boys and a teacher.

 

7 comments:

  1. Thanks Betty! These are great tips!!

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    1. You're welcome! Thanks for stopping by!

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  2. As a musician - these are great even for me to read - to reinforce what I already do with my kids - and to remember to keep it consistent and to be supportive. One thing I read from musician Victor Wooten - was to be sure to expose kids to "professional" musicians - be it through recordings or live music. Children learn to speak with many professional "speakers" of whatever language is taught at home - but sometimes with music we forget that they too will learn and excel by being able to "jam", or play, or accompany experienced musicians whenever possible. This could be in an informal setting. But if they have the opportunity to ever sit down with experienced musicians - try to make that an opportunity they can have during their early musical careers because they will learn so much by watching and listening to them.

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  3. I'm so glad this helped! Thank you for that added tip. I'm looking everywhere and telling Diego when I find that someone plays an instrument (a friend's parent, for example) but now I will keep that in mind that he would benefit from playing with someone as well!

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  5. As a lover of music and my husband being in the music entertainment business, I knew my children would grow up to love music as well. Lia expressed her love for singing and music at a very young age. She has been taking piano lessons for 4 years and voice lessons for 2 1/2 years. Lia and Angie are in a children's choir and they both started playing the violin in their school's orchestra this year. Franco has recently voiced his interest in learning to play the guitar, so that instrument might be next. As you can see, I too see the important and benefits of music. I think it's time one of my kids teach me how to play an instrument or read music. ;-)

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    1. That's amazing Carol! No fear from you! I can hear your home now! Thanks for sharing!

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