In the last article, we looked at the age (when) a child should begin music lesson and why music lessons are beneficial. We will continue by discussing how to choose an instrument and instruction, and some steps that can lead your child and you to a successful musical lesson experience.
To Choose an Instrument
Very young children should start with a recorder or the piano. A recorder is a simple wind instrument, relatively inexpensive and easy to play. Most children are too small and uncoordinated to handle a string or wind instrument. Playing the piano provides comfortable seating and immediate gratification. Your child hits the key, and they hear a sound.
When you child is older, you will need to decide what instrument they should play. Talk to your child about what they prefer. This may be related to the type of music they enjoy. A classical music lover probably is not going to ask for guitar lessons.
Do not buy an instrument until you are sure your child is going to stay with their music lessons. Borrow or rent. Also, consider purchasing a second hand instrument; sometimes music teachers know of students who are no longer taking lessons that may have one available.
To Choose an Instructor
There are three major considerations when choosing a music teacher: your child’s age and needs, the teacher’s personality and experience, and the cost.
What Does Your Child Need?
You will want to make sure you find a teacher with experience teaching children the same age as your child. My first piano teacher was supposed to be one of the best. I found her cold and demanding. I fought the lessons and my parents until they gave up and let me stop taking lessons. I regret that decision on both our parts. How much easier it would have been for all of us if I had a caring, child-loving teacher.
For very young children, group lessons are good. Older children benefit from private lessons.
Meet the teacher with your child before signing any contract or paying any money. Watch the interaction between your child and the prospective teacher. Make sure the teacher can proficiently play the instrument they are teaching. Do not hesitate to ask for references. You can also ask friends, community and church members, as well as your child’s school for recommendations.
Lesson costs vary tremendously. Decide up front what you can handle. Remember, group lessons are less expensive than private lessons. My daughter expressed an interest in the guitar. Knowing her penchant for starting something with enthusiasm, only to drop it a few weeks later, I opted for a book, some Internet sites, and a promise to re-visit her request in a month. The guitar went the way of dancing lessons and raising rabbits.
Steps to Success
It is important to support your child’s musical efforts. Reward your child. Consider special treats or activities after a particularly successful lesson or performance. Praise does wonders. So does encouragement.
Be reasonable in your expectations. A very young child is not going to practice for a long time. It is better to set more frequent, shorter practice sessions. Also, pick a regular time of day and place for practice. However, don’t be so ritualistic that practice becomes a dreaded ordeal.
Each child is individual and there is no exact age for a child to start formal music lessons. As a parent, you will need to access their interest level, ability, and commitment. There are many benefits derived from playing a musical instrument. Additionally, it can provide your child joy and a love of music that will last their entire lifetime.