Music is invisible. But it is one of the greatest forces in the world. You can’t touch music, but music can touch you.
Add some soaring strings to an otherwise ordinary scene in a film, and even the heartiest of us might be reduced to to tears.
I keep bumping into young parents who tell me they want their kids to learn music. Yes, there are parents who are relying on studies about how a few years of formal music education can improve mental function for years. More often than not, though, what I hear is that they hope to provide for their children what their own parents did not.
I have never met someone who says they are pleased that they gave up playing a musical instrument, or that they consider life so much better for not playing it.
Instead, I meet people who say they wish they could remember how to play the guitar, or cello, or some other musical instrument. They share their regret about avoiding or giving up on music education, when they had the opportunity as a child.
To them I say – do not give up. You still have the benefit of music education! Share it with your children. Yes, I can hear some of you muttering I can’t carry a tune, and I don’t have a musical bone in my body. Phooey! We all share an irresistible impulse to make music.
- Maybe you’ve been to a concert, club, or attended religious services where lots of people move together to a beat, all creating a powerful sense of bonding.
- Sitting in the car, have you tapped out a beat on the steering wheel? tapped your feet?
- Enjoyed those personal moments belting out out tunes in the shower.
- Joined in singing when it’s someone’s birthday and the cake comes out.
Those are all part of our music education and experience. [Odds are pretty good that our kids have seen us doing these things, too!]
Our musical knowledge is learned as we absorb music from televisions and kitchen radios; shopping centers, cars, and doctors’ waiting rooms. People list their musical tastes on social media and travel amazing distances to hear their favorite band.
When we acknowledge how, just by living and listening, we have all acquired deep musical knowledge, we kick-start our child’s music education. Music is not just for the professionals.
Rather, professional musicians owe their existence to the fact that WE are musical. Not all of us can afford formal music education classes, but that doesn’t mean we can’t do more for our child’s music education. Here are three low- or no-cost options that every family can do.
Music Education at Home
1. Create a Shared Experience.
Host an at-home concert with your own music. Introduce your child to the music you love – particularly the instruments! Do you love Bruce Springsteen or do you really love the E-Street Band’s Clarence Clemons (The Big Man) and the way he plays the saxophone?
Who are your child’s music heroes? What instruments are his favorite? Be sure that some of her tunes are in your concert series!
2. Go Out and Play.
Local concerts are a great way to hear more music that includes the instrument(s) your children love. Many groups have an instrument petting zoo before their performances. That gives your child a chance to hear an instrument in person.
You might also look at visiting your local music store. For one thing, they are filled with people who love and know music, and for another, it is a chance for your child to try out an instrument. Maybe they thought they loved the guitar, but discovered a love for the clarinet!
3. Visit the library.
Yep, the library! Ask your librarian for books about your child’s favorite artist and/or CDs with their music. Many libraries also have movie collections, and there maybe a movie biography that you can enjoy on Family Movie Night.
Libraries are a great resource for finding a wide range of music, too. Introduce kids (and yourself) to music outside your normal experiences. Kids don’t know if they like something until they have experienced. They may not know what NederPop is, but then, when they hear it, you might just here “Oh! I lOVE this music!”
In my next post, I’ll share some tips on ways to keep your child’s interest in / love of music alive.
This post was originally posted on the now-defunct Mom’s Choice Matters blog on 3/2/15.
About Chrissy Tetley
Chrissy has been involved in music in one way or another all her life, and was one of those kids playing in the street making up songs with tunes you can whistle on the way home. Piano lessons and banjo/guitar playing led to learning the flute as a serious instrument and studying the Oboe.
As a retired music teacher and NZ trained primary school teacher, Chrissy still has a keen interest in children’s education, particularly where music is concerned. But she is also passionate about storytelling.
Visit Chrissy at Music on the Bookshelf to learn more about her books and music education.