12 Easy Steps to Help ANY Parent Support Their Musical Child (Even if You Don’t Have A Clue about Music)

A new school year has started, and your child is begging you for music lessons.  You’ve rented the instrument, chosen the instructor, and set up your fall schedule.  Now, how can you support your child throughout their journey – even if you’ve never sung a note in tune?  TakeLessons Student Counselor Stiina L. offers up some tips!

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Once upon a time, there was a parent who admittedly had absolutely no musical ability whatsoever.  Her child, however, had expressed that her only wish in the world was to learn how to play the piano like Alicia Keys. This parent searched for piano teachers, was brought to the TakeLessons website, and proceeded to call us. I answered that call and it has not been the only call of this kind I have answered as a Student Counselor here.

I have found that parents also need direction on how to approach these music lessons. How do you take an active role in your child’s education when you don’t have a musical fiber in your body? It’s not as tough as you may think – and, better yet, it doesn’t have to be painful! Here are a few ways you can help your child throughout their musical journey:

1. Be enthusiastic about their interest in music and celebrate their decision to take lessons.

2. Don’t be afraid to ask the instructor questions. Remember, the only dumb questions are the ones not asked!

3. Attend the music lessons with your child! It shows your support and it makes the lessons less stressful.

4. Provide a suitable time and place for your child to practice. Your child’s instructor will also be able to identify items that will be helpful for practice (i.e. music stand, metronome, tuner).

5. Support your child by positively reinforcing habitual practicing. A practice chart with stars for days practiced always helped me in the beginning – depending on how many stars I had meant something special (i.e. 25 stars means a movie rental, 50 stars might be going to Chuck E. Cheese or a special place they love).

6. Get involved in a booster club or parents’ group that relates to your musical child. Meetup.com is a fantastic resource – and if there isn’t already a group, start one!

7. Shout it from the rooftops when they accomplish a goal! It fuels them for their next goal by letting them know how great an accomplishment it was, that you understand how much work it was and how PROUD you are that they achieved their goal.

8. Take it one step further – BRAG (preferably in front of your child)! Private praise is great, but hearing you brag proudly to other adults is such a confidence booster for a child.

9. Don’t rule out playing yourself. If you can’t sing or read music, select something that doesn’t require it.  Triangle, maracas, bongos – there are plenty of options that you can use to “jam” with your child. You might feel silly, but it will be one of those bonding experiences your child will appreciate beyond words and remember forever!

10. DO NOT – under ANY circumstance – miss their performances, especially the very first one. To them, these are their championships!

11. If your child is struggling – do not, I repeat, DO NOT allow them to give up on themselves. Like life, learning music will not always be simple nor easy, but it is worth it. There is always a solution. Involve the teacher! They are trained to tackle these situations and may be able to provide a different angle you haven’t thought about.

12. And last but definitely not least – I understand that being a parent is tiring, but that is never an excuse to cancel lessons that your child is actively interested in. By doing this, you are showing them that you do not have faith in their abilities and it can permanently affect their self-confidence for the rest of their life.

By following these tips, you will give your child the best chance to excel at something that interests them and that gives them the self-confidence to explore and learn something about themselves – which is, in my opinion, the best life lesson you can teach your child!

 

— Stiina L.

TakeLessons Student Counselor

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Composing Life Lessons from Music

The benefits of music are well-documented when it comes to instilling skills and confidence in young children – here, TakeLessons instructor Bryan B. explains how music can translate into career success for adults as well!

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Recently, I went on a two week trip to sunny Northridge, California, where I got to work with amazing artists and teachers to help develop my craft. What is my craft you say? Singing – more specifically, opera singing.

The program I took part in, OperaWorks, provided me with much more insight than I initially expected. Living in an age of doubt, I immediately felt like it might not have been worth my money. But after two weeks I was pleased to see that there were noticeable changes not only in my music, but also in my life.

Let’s take a closer look at how my training in music affected my life and my world:

Opera-ism #1: I am AWESOME. This was a technique I learned to help prepare myself for an audition. By giving myself a pep talk before walking through the door, I am able to walk in with confidence.

So how does this apply to my life? Well, aside from teaching, I have a normal day-to-day job in sales. And as part of that job, I have to provide people with a service or product. This can be really nerve-wracking because I hate sales people myself. I recently went to buy a car and the worst part about the whole experience was the salesman. I already knew I was going to buy a car, I had already researched the car that I wanted and he just seemed to get in the way. Because of experiences like these, I try to steer myself away from being a “pushy” sales guy.

When I applied my “I am AWESOME!” pep talk to my day-to-day job, I found that it was a lot easier for me to sell to people without being pushy or being pushed over. I was able to confidently talk about products, build relationships with my clients and actively listen and respond to their concerns. Essentially, being AWESOME allowed me to be myself when I was on the phone, and let my personality shine. What I learned from this is products don’t sell – people do.

Opera-ism #2: Music is not what’s written on the page, it is what the performers make of it. The intention of the composer was not that the performer sing the song exactly how it was written, in a robotic fashion, but to add expression and interpretation to it.

This came to light for me when I sang an operatic aria (Love Sounds the Alarm from Acis and Galatea), which is a love song.  Rather than expressing lovey-dovey emotions, this aria became a “war speech” in OperaWorks. I was inspiring a nation to defend itself against its enemies. The whole meaning of the song changed, but it was really effective.

The real life experience happened in learning my “pitch.”  You can always hear the sales pitch coming when you’re on the phone with a salesman.  Well, I realized it’s not about the words, it’s about the meaning. Upon returning, having already memorized the pitch, I started to implement the meaning of the words, and tie them back to the desires of my customers.

What I’ve learned as a performer has more than affected my life – it has changed me. I went into OperaWorks as an insecure performer and came out a confident man. The results speak for themselves. My performance at work has improved, and my personal life is much happier and free. This just goes to show that things shouldn’t be taken at face value. What you learn in school might actually apply to real life. Who knew?

 

Bryan B.

TakeLessons Instructor