May 1, 2012

Getting Your Children Interested in Music

I consider that there are two scenarios when it comes to parents who want to encourage their children toward an appreciation for music.  The first is that of musical parents, like myself, and the second would be for non-musical parents.  Non-musical parents would be those who do not regularly play an instrument, including voice, within their home, whether they have formal training or not.  For this second group of parents there are a lot of practical and inexpensive things you can do that might spark an interest in your child.  One of the most common ways is to coerce them to begin an instrument or lessons on something they don't initially show inclination towards.  Some parents might wait until the child begins to show an interest in something specific before moving forward toward the research and acquisition of an instrument, lessons, etc.

In my personal experience and after teaching for more than 10 years, I have found that the best students are those who are self-motivated and not coerced.  They love violin (or whatever) because they love it, not because their parents make them take it.  These students practice on their own, they enjoy it, they want to learn, they want to improve and parents don't have to continually nag them to go practice or stand over their shoulder while they do so.

A great way to encourage your child is by exposure.  The more they see and hear music, live and recorded, the more of an interest they are likely to take.  You can purchase music anywhere.  You can listen and watch for free on YouTube or borrowing materials from your local library.  There are lots of movies also with musician/instrumental themes, Music from the Heart (G or PG) and The Red Violin (PG mostly, but there is an R scene) come immediately to mind.  The former is based on a true story and the latter is fictional.

To expose your children to live music, there are a lot of venues that are local and free.  The public school system teaches musical arts beginning in elementary school through high school.  You can check websites to see if those musical events are listed on a calendar where you and your family can attend for little or no cost.  Sometimes these groups may perform outside of a public school building (for those of us who would prefer never to step inside another building again).

Local churches are also a great source of live music.  The larger churches, like First Baptist Atlanta, will have a full orchestra and 4-part choir.  They'll probably have teen and children's choirs also.  They will typically do special programs during high church days, like Christmas and Easter.  These programs often fall on days that don't conflict with your own regular church attendance. 

Conduct a Google search to find out what community orchestras perform locally.  John's Creek Orchestra is located there near Roswell and performs musical concerts for a ticket price.  There are also youth orchestras, like the Atlanta Youth Orchestra, where the kids that play are 18 and younger performing serious orchestral works for cheaper than tickets to the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra.  Many of the local community orchestras will charge for each adult and will usually discount for seniors and students.  They may admit children under a certain age for free.

 Summer is coming and many orchestras around the region may perform free summer concert series at smaller city downtown centers.  Norcross has an outdoor amphitheater at Thrasher Park and Lillian Webb Park and they will have local jazz, bluegrass, etc. bands play there on clear weekend nights and daytime festivals.  Some similar concerts take place in downtown Duluth and Suwanee also.  Oftentimes the concert schedules are posted online on the municipal websites.  Google is great search tool.

You might be able to arrange for a large group of several families to observe a rehearsal of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra.  Check their website to see if they host any free events too.  Local music teachers may occasionally host recitals as a public venue for their students to gain performance experience.  These will most likely be free too.  The Anderson Music Studio is hosting one such free recital Friday, May 25th at 7:30p.m. at Christ Reformed Church (2209 Sunny Hill Rd, Lawrenceville).

If you have friends who are musical, ask kindly if they wouldn't mind playing something at your next get together and showing your children how the instrument works and entertaining any questions they may have.  

The most important advice I could give as a parent, teacher and former/continuing student is to discover the specific instrument (or voice) your child is interested in and encourage him or her in that direction.  If they love piano, let them do piano.  If they want to try trumpet, don't give them the flute instead.  Sounds simple, but some parents do just that.

No comments: