I was reminded these past few weeks that our little musicians often compare their musical learning process with their academic abilities.
When our children go to school, some of them struggle, some of them thrive, some of them are bored, some find it tiring. The list goes on and on. But as the school term goes on and everyone falls into their weekly routines, kids start to recognise what they find easy and what they find difficult.
I'm largely generalising here, but there are two main groups of little learners that come into our school each week. Some breeze through school work, homework is easy and self managed, new concepts are easily grasped. Others find it overwhelming, flooded with new information daily, making new friends, struggling with homework and workload.
Enter music lessons and we usually find that the academically gifted find their journey with music starts with an enthusiasm and ease that propels them forward beyond their peers. Then, they reach that dreaded moment when suddenly it becomes hard. They have to push through the agonising frustration of not being able to do something immediately and work through a process to learn a new concept, a new musical passage, with a patience they may not have yet learnt. Once they get through this stage, they realise that with hard work and persistence they can achieve their goals, big or small!
Our other students, the ones that have to work really hard at the beginning stages of their music education have put in huge amounts of hard work, effort, patiently struggling through those early days of Ode to Joy and Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, sometimes taking many, many weeks to achieve a small musical goal, they reach this beautiful moment when the light bulb just switches on and they start to propel forward at a speed they are not used to! They gain huge amounts of self esteem at this moment and it could just be my favourite teaching moment. It's kind of beautiful.
Both students have a tough time when they have to push through the frustration of not being able to do something. It takes patience, encouragement, practice, routine, effort and will power but both groups of students get there!
How can you help them as parents?
Well, most kids will need encouragement, even if they have breezed through the initial stages of their musical journey. They need to hear from you that they're sounding more musical, more dynamic, more advanced than a month ago, a year ago.... there is no such thing as too much praise or encouragement. Shower those little musicians!
But really, the biggest help you can be as a music parent is to establish a practice routine with your child from that first week of lessons. Even if it is 5 minutes a day, but it is every day....that is the biggest gift you can give them. That short burst of daily practice will set them up for success from the very start. 5 minutes will soon become 10 minutes. I like to think of it a little bit like brushing your teeth. Kids don't love to do this....but they have to or they'll be smiling with no teeth in no time! Sure, practice time will sometimes be met with groans or unwillingness but it will become a habit. A habit that is hard to break.
I hope you found these little tips useful. Stay tuned for more tips coming soon.