As I start to think about the activities to put Ella into now that she’s 4yrs old, I try to balance my desire to have a “well rounded” child vs. over programming her . Music lessons is something I’ve always wanted to expose her to. Of course in the back of my mind, there is always the concept of “music makes you smarter” that you hear about so I figure it couldn’t hurt. At the very least even if it didn’t have a direct effect to her doing any better in school, she’d gain a new skill, learn to play some music for herself and others, and at least teach her how to focus on something other than the iPad!
I am surrounded by over a hundred musicians and teachers all the time so here is what I found.
- Know your ABCs. As soon as they have a good handle on their alphabet, they can start music lessons. General consensus was probably 4 or 5yrs old would be the youngest.
- Piano is an easy instrument for young ones to start off on. With piano there are no issues with the instrument being too big to handle and no frustration with technique or enough air capacity to even make a sound on the instrument. You press the key and that’s it.
- It’s not the amount of time but the frequency of practicing. Regular daily practicing for 5-10 minutes is all that is expected. As much as this is trying to teach them to focus, you can’t expect a young child to focus for more than that so regular practicing in smaller chunks will help them retain the information.
- Music is like learning a language. Speaking a new language doesn’t happen overnight so set your expectations accordingly. It’s a steady skill build that takes years not months to develop.
- Expect highs and lows with motivation. Help support them through these humps while keeping the bigger picture in mind. The novelty of trying something new will quickly wear off when they figure out they have to put effort in to learn. Once they start seeing results, it will help with the motivation but again, expect another low period that will require your support.
- Make it social. If you have the opportunity to get them into a group lesson to learn with their others their own age that is a great way to help with motivation. Basic are basics so why not make it more engaging for them to learn in the early stages. After a couple of years once they start to build a strong musical foundation, they can head off to a specialist for one on one lessons. By this time, hopefully they’ve grown an appreciation for music so one on one lessons can help them really take off.
- Make it fun to practice! Turn it into a game where possible (ie. who can find middle C the fastest). Like everything, they want your attention so if you are participating in their learning, they will want to do it even more.
- Get both parents on board. Help share the load if at all possible with helping with practicing or going to the lessons. If you are able to sit in on the lessons, take advantage and learn along. It’s like getting two lessons for the price of one!
My husband and I talked it through and decided we were both committed. We enrolled Ella into piano lessons a few months ago, purchased a piano and look forward to hearing her play for us. Stay tuned to share in this new adventure with us as I’m sure there will be bumps along the way!
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