Children tend to love music, they like to dance, to sing and to play on instruments. Really, they just have to show up at the lessons wanting to learn and curious to explore. By all means try out instrumental lessons with your child, but if he or she doesn't want to continue, please don't make them. Instead help them find what they do want to do.
When a child wants to learn an instrument it's essential they choose one they like the sound of since they will spend a lot of time playing it.
Parents can help by playing all sorts of music and even giving children the opportunity to try some out - advice here! Peter and the Wolf is a good piece to introduce children to various orchestral instruments, as is Carnival of the Animals.
Music is an entire language and just as children took years to learn to speak full sentences so will they take years to learn the language of music. This doesn't mean it can't be fun, engaging and fulfilling (which is the teacher's job; we'll look at that next week), from the beginning but reaching the dizzying heights of Grade 8 is hard work!
As well as showing up willing to learn, children need the parent's and teacher's support to develop:
Please remind your child not to be afraid to ask if he / she doesn't understand something and also to let their teacher know if they are not enjoying a particular approach or piece. Good teachers who have undertaken professional development can adapt their approach and can easily provide different repertoire to better suit the child. We are not mind readers and while we can 'pick up' on undercurrents we don't always succeed.
So much of the child's experience in learning an instrument depends on the quality of the teaching and if the child can develop the attitudes discussed above and is supported by their parents they will be well on their way with their musical journey. Next week I'll look at the final part of the triangle - the teacher.
What is your child's experience of music lessons? Are they developing the attitudes they need to succeed? Is there anything you can do to help them even more than you are already? If you missed the parent's role in the learning journey read it here.
Director of Surrey Music School.