Thursday, December 30, 2010

Music for Children - Tips for Getting Them Started.

My daughter's music playgroup room has a saying outside the door.

" A mind once stretched will never revert to it's normal size"

That is what music does for a child and for all of us who have been touched by it.

I took piano lessons from age 7 and today I can still feel it's impact in my everyday life, in little ways I cannot even describe.
I was the type of child who did not like to read notes but instead played by " ear" something which irritated the heck out of my music teacher but I did just fine.
My mother and father played a pivotal role in developing my "ear" and  discipline came in the form of six am wake up calls for scale practice before school. I hated it sometimes, but based on stories I heard years later, the neighborhood got lots of inspiration from my morning tunes.  Today, I can hear a few notes of music and my"ears" just perk up!

Music teachers have lasting impact on a child's life, we never forget our music teachers from school or band, they were always one of our favorite teachers.

One of my friends has 4 children 3(none out of high school yet) play violin and it is truly an inspiration to watch them play as a group at home for family and friends.

Another friend of  mine with two little boys suggests finding out where the local orchestra plays or holds classes for little ones, it is often at a reduced price or they host free concerts for children.
And please note! It does not matter if they cannot pick an instrument now, just get them into a group and take it from there.

Warning ! If during middle or high school they ask to drop music, you stick out your hand and say absolutely not! They will thank you in spades later.
Many adults often express regret for not playing an instrument to adulthood!

Parents Magazine did a great article with tips for getting children started on their musical journey.

Get them started and enrich their lives.

Please find the tips below from Parents Magazine.

My 5-year-old, Sadie, has been sounding out a version of "Do-Re-Mi" on her toy electronic keyboard since age 3. Now that her musical repertoire includes jamming to Laurie Berkner and Sam Cooke on her faux white guitar, I'm thinking about signing her up for music lessons this fall.
"This is a great age to begin playing an instrument if your kid shows an interest," says Menon Dwarka, director of the Greenwich House Music School, in New York City. "In kindergarten and first grade, kids are tracking words from left to right and learning to read, so a music teacher may not have to rely on having them just memorize the notes by ear."
Music lessons may even help children become more confident readers. "Music and schoolwork build similar skills, including letter and number recognition and fine motor development," says Glenn Schellenberg, Ph.D., a professor of psychology at the University of Toronto. "My research on first-graders shows that learning an instrument improves a child's reading scores on standardized tests." If that sounds like music to your ears, start off your budding Bach on a high note.
Which Instrument?

You and your child need to agree on what she'll play. She won't have enough breath support or finger dexterity for a wind instrument like flute or clarinet until she's around 10, and brass instruments are too big. While some music schools offer guitar lessons for 5- and 6-year-olds, most experts believe it?s smart to wait until kids are a little older and have more hand strength, coordination, and dexterity. The best options: piano and violin."It's easiest for children to learn how to play melodies on the piano," says Marvelene C. Moore, Ph.D., professor of music at the University of Tennessee. Since a piano is a big investment in space and money, it's okay for a kid to practice on a keyboard at first while you gauge her long-term interest.
The violin, especially the scaled-down one made for kids, is smaller and more portable than a keyboard, but it requires more patience. The first few lessons will be devoted to learning how to hold the instrument and bow (for many kids it feels awkward initially) and remembering several finger positions.
Lesson Plan

There are two basic kinds of classes: Suzuki and regular. With Suzuki (which is especially popular for the violin), playing by ear is emphasized at first over reading music. A parent and child usually learn together -- so you not only have to attend your kid's lessons, you'll be expected to participate as well. For either option, your child can have group or private lessons. Group lessons with three or four other children around the same age and level are often a better choice since young kids learn well from one another, explains Nicole Yorty, a music teacher at Herbert A. Derfelt Elementary School, in Las Vegas.

Teacher Interviews

Great musicians aren't necessarily great teachers. So rather than looking for an instructor with a lot of musical accomplishments, focus on finding one who has experience working with young children. "The music teacher at your child's school is usually a terrific person to ask for recommendations," says Yorty. If you want to try the Suzuki method, keep that in mind because not all instructors offer it.
Once you locate several possible instructors, request to observe the type of class your kid would attend to get a sense of the teacher's style. "A quieter, laid-back teacher may be the right fit for some children while others will respond better to one who brings a lot of energy to the session," says Mike Blakeslee, deputy executive director of The National Association for Music Education, in Reston, Virginia.
Finally, take into account the teacher's expectations. Some instructors want kids to practice for 20 to 30 minutes daily. You (and your kid) may not be ready for that time commitment at first, so it's smart to choose someone who gives, well, less homework.
Average Cost

Depending on where you live, a 30-minute private lesson will run $15 to $50. Expect to pay 25 to 50 percent less for group lessons. Rather than buying an instrument, look into renting from a local music store. "Renting will save you from getting stuck with an instrument if your child doesn't like it," explains Yorty. Violin and keyboard rentals typically cost $15 to $25 per month. For a year of lessons the bill usually ranges from $1,000 to $3,000.
Recital Time

The truth is, progress will be slow. Six months into violin lessons, most kids can play a recognizable version of "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star." Piano progress generally happens more quickly, and a child will know three or four simple songs in the same time frame. What's more impressive at the end-of-year recital: the amount of confidence kids develop. "They'll come out on stage one by one and play for the audience," says Yorty. "It's amazing."

Parents Oct 2010.


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