How to expose your child to music and musical instruments
As requested by Mark Christchurch June 2008 1 The most important lesson to learn about music appreciation is that without silence there would be no sound. Music is not only notes but the spaces (ie. musical rests) between each note. Without silence there would be no rhythm. Playing music in the household is important but silence is equally precious. We all know how impressive a movie soundtrack is when it arrives only at the very end of the film. When music is constantly playing throughout the film or one's household it gets lost and our ears get desensitized. Teaching children music appreciation begins with the value of silence. mistake. What a child enjoys at the moment is what will sustain her imagination. 3 Expose your children to all types of sounds. A bird singing in the backyard is a thing a beauty. A meat cleaver chopping over conversation while a truck drives by is technically a fugue. Glenn Gould the celebrated interpreter of J.S. Bach's music created a fugue using human voices from an interview ("Solitude Trilogy") 4 Do play music in the house. Play what you like to listen to as well. Your child may not show immediate interest but one day he or she may find something in your collection that sparks an interest. Take your child to the library and have him pick out some cd's. Don't be a snob. If your child sees a compact disc that is brightly packaged and engaging then take it out and let him listen to it. If he finds there is no substance he will quickly learn that image often has little to do with sound. In the classical world for example fat ladies and old men rule. 5 www.prs.net is a free classical archives that contains thousands of free midi files that can be played on your computer. Amazon.com has samples which if you find is to your liking can be downloaded immediately. 6 Try youtube for a whirlwind tour around the world. You can see pop and traditional folk music videos from every continent. You child will hear strange language strange instruments and weird whacky videos that will capture his or her imagination. In the modern day of the visually-oriented culture image is no.1. Encourage in your child the notion that foreign sounding music is not necessarily "funny sounding." Having respect for music from all different cultures especially indigenous groups will help foster a worldly view that will carry his or her imagination farther in life. 7 Take your child to concerts and performances. Nothing can ever capture the sound quality of live performances. The whole atmosphere of performers putting on a show will add intrigue to a child's curiosity. 8 Once a child expresses interest in playing an instrument see if his or her school offers concert/marching band or afterschool programs. Try renting an instrument if you are uncertain or cannot purchase one at the moment. A child's attention span and commitment may disappear in a very short period of time. If your child complains that he wants a Gibson and Marshall Stack explain to him that once you see a sustain interest in playing you will look into it. 9 If you enroll your child in classes or lessons encourage regular practicing. Don't FORCE your child to make music. Remember that there is a difference between a lazy music student and one who has genuinely lost interest. Feel it out by talking about it. Explain that excellence can only be achieved by first taking care of the repetitive stuff. You will teach your child the concept of harvesting hard work once she begins to progress. 10 Explain to your child that music is not competition. Personal excellence is the most important goal. Many parents use their child's ability to compete against other parents and trump the Joneses. This will only kill your child's love and enthusiasm for music. However when and if your child should get involved in a "battle of the bands" (something common among teenagers in high school) take it lightheartedly. It's something they enjoy. If he doesn't win ask him if he had fun. Because enjoying music-making is infinitely more important than winning. 11 Be interested in the music yourself. Have regular conversations with your child and ask her questions about what she hears in the music. You will be very surprised at what they can come up with. Sometimes verbalizing what you hear is a creative act all in itself. 12 Inspire in your child the beauty and wonder of the world around us. Draw attention to them that living things can make sweet sounds that baby birds chirp in the morning goats can bleat cows moo. Animals make music too. Point out the gorgeous sounds of a breeze moving through the leaves or the pattering of rain in the afternoon. In the time of the day when everything is suddenly still and quiet say "listen to how quiet it is?" "