By Vicki W.
There are many ways in which you can support your child’s instrumental work at home to enhance and extend their musical experience. Here are a few ideas:
Listening to live music
There is nothing quite like hearing music performed live. As well as the obvious benefits of listening to the music itself, children are fascinated by the visual impact of a live performance – they may see instruments they have never seen before and can get first-hand experience of what real-life music-making is all about. Experiences of this type stay with a child for a long time, encouraging and inspiring their own creative endeavors.
Festivals and other outdoor events are often brimming with music of all kinds, ideal for younger children, who can listen for a shorter time without the need to sit still. Many theatre companies and orchestras now put on performances specifically catering for children, sometimes including workshops where there is a chance for direct contact with the performers and hands-on activities.
You may have friends or relatives who play instruments and who would sometimes let your child sit in on a practice session. If your child is having difficulty in their lessons, perhaps mastering a particularly challenging piece, going to see a live performance on their instrument can make all the difference between despondency and motivation.
For formal concerts and recitals, making the event as special as possible (dressing up in smart clothes, for example) will really enhance the whole experience.
Of course, listening to music in general is beneficial for your child, both for developing a good ‘ear’, for increased musical knowledge and simply for fun. It is important that your child listens actively to a wide range of music in terms of history, style, culture, nationality and instrumentation. Try not to be judgemental about types of music you may not like yourself. As well as your own music collection, make use of your local library, your friends’ collections, radio and TV. Listen together and talk about what you’re hearing. This will increase your child’s musical vocabulary and increase their confidence.
Being involved in your child’s musical life is essential to their success and confidence. Spending time together to make, listen to or talk about music will foster creativity, develop skills and self-esteem as well as building a strong parent-child bond. Some ways you could get involved:
- Listen to your child practice.
- Have a mini-concert with siblings or friends.
- Sing, dance and play together.
- Make recordings of your child’s favorite pieces over time. Now and again, listen back together to celebrate progress.
Encouraging your child to join a local band or choir is a crucial step to making music a real part of their life. It not only develops important ensemble skills but promotes social skills and provides musical role models to aspire to. Of course, playing with other people who share the same passion is immensely enjoyable and rewarding in its own right. Making music as part of a group is a mood-enhancing, powerful, fulfilling and uplifting experience which your child will relish.
Making music is great fun but it can be hard work too. Your child will need support and encouragement when things get tough but praise for dedication, commitment and achievement. He or she needs to know that you are proud of them and that their hard work is paying off. Always try to make it fun, not a chore. Enthuse, rather than enforce – remember, learning an instrument is an exciting adventure; full of thrills and spills but above all, best shared.
© New Mozart School of Music.