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Children learning to play a musical instrument

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From improving memory skills, through achieving better exam results to making friends for life, children learning to play a musical instrument has heaps of benefits. But with a host of other things to capture their interest and keep them entertained, how can you encourage your child not only to pick up an instrument but also to stick at it and put in the practise needed to become proficient?

Allow your child to choose

The choice of instrument is of course important and you may have a few ideas of your own. However, one of the best ways to ensure your child maximises her potential is to let her choose her own instrument. Obviously if she opts for a tuba you will probably want to steer her towards a bit smaller, such as a horn or baritone, at first with a view to moving onto the bigger instrument once she has grown a bit and can carry it to school or band rehearsals on her own. Some instruments, like guitar, have child-size versions available and could be a great choice as the change from three-quarters to full-size isn’t much of a leap. If at all possible allow your child to have a go on a few different instruments before picking one.

Make it fun

The classics will always be important but how many young kids have a genuine interest in Mozart or Beethoven? If your child prefers to learn One Direction songs then that is totally fine. Most people’s musical tastes develop and widen as they get older and you’ll probably find that from this starting point your child will progress into something a bit more ‘credible’ and challenging. As long as they’re having fun and moving forward in learning, that’s all that really matters.

Find a great teacher

children playinga musical instrumentSome councils are phasing out free instrument tuition in schools so it may well be down to you as a parent to find an instructor. As well as teaching your child what they need to know to become technically good at their chosen instrument, truly brilliant music tutors will leave your child enthused and eager to practise at the end of each lesson. You may want to sit in on the first session to make sure the child and instructor get along well before booking a block of lessons. There is also the option of group lessons, which often work out cheaper and have the advantage of your child learning to play as part of an ensemble.

Don’t put too much stress on grade exams

While grade exams can be helpful as something to practise towards and a way of monitoring progress, they aren’t the be all and end all. I know plenty of excellent musicians who have never sat a grade exam in their life. Some kids get a real boost from passing exams and being able to say they are now at grade whatever level but for others these tests can be nothing more than a source of stress. Take the lead from your child; if she seems interested then by all means go for it but otherwise it might be best to let her play for fun.

Resist the urge to wear earplugs!

Practise makes perfect but everyone knows that it can be somewhat, shall we say… challenging to listen to beginner musicians master an instrument. However, one of the best ways to encourage practise is to make a point of asking to hear your child play. Find out what they’ve been working on and tell them you’d love to hear how they’re getting on with the piece. Not only do kids love to show off new skills, your interest and praise will encourage them to practise harder and will help build their confidence.

 

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About Maria Brett

About Maria Brett

Maria is a freelance writer with over 10 years' experience producing content for a variety of publications and websites. When not working or looking after her two gorgeous sons, she can usually be found playing flugelhorn in a brass band, helping out at her local hospital radio station, shouting at the television while watching Formula 1, at the cinema or plonked on the couch with a cold glass of wine.

Website: Maria Brett

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