All parents of musical children secretly twiddle their thumbs in hope they’ll become proud parents of a prodigy musician, playing in some well-respected conservatory. Of course, most of the parents end up with well-educated, strong-willed and in all ways promising children, but the expectations sometimes overpower reason and not rarely do we encounter young players frustrated and pressured to become something they’re not. This is why it is very important teaching fun, but also realistic and more serious sides of playing a musical instrument.
In the world of brutal competing and the survival of the fittest, it’s hard sometimes standing aside and letting things take their natural course, but for the sake of our children gaining healthy and positive associations to music, every parent must think twice when advising their kids once they’ve taken the road of music playing.
IT’S NOT ALWAYS GOING TO BE FUN AND GAMES
Children should learn to play music regardless of their talent and chances for professional success, since it brings amazing advantages to building healthy habits, improving social skills and self-esteem, boosting cognitive ability and much more. In fact, learning to play an instrument in any case requires a lot of dedication, regular practice, discipline and patience. These soft skills are valuable for building strong and independent personalities, but children being children have a hard time understanding this on their own.
It’s fun to learn new music. It’s fun to play in a group. It’s fun to perform and get standing ovations from an audience. But until it gets this fun and effortless, a lot of hard work and persistence need to be applied. Children are usually impulsive by nature and act in accordance with what they feel and experience at the moment. If your child likes their instrument and doesn’t really like to practice – you are in good company! It doesn’t mean they don’t want to play their instrument. Practice is a discipline that students learn little by little, by trial and error, and with feedback from their teacher. It’s a skill to be developed regardless of playing itself.
Explain to your child that even though it may seem hard and complicated in the beginning, in time they’ll be able to see the results of their hard work and gain a sense of achievement. Help your kid by staying determined and undoubtful about their practicing routine and soon they’ll get used to the tempo and feel the need to do it on their own. Make sure not to strain your child if you notice that the problem is not mere childish impatience, but real aversion to playing. You have a chance to help your child understand and visualize the fruits of their hard work in the future and that it all eventually pays off.
FAILURE IS INEVITABLE AND IT TEACHES YOU VALUABLE LESSONS
With every long-term goal, a lot of work and motivation is required. With every true work, failure is a must and everyone experiences it from time to time. It’s very important letting your child understand that failure can be a good thing if it’s embraced and reexamined. The only way one can learn is through making mistakes and understanding what’s been done wrong. Nobody is perfect and should not strive to be. Telling your little instrument player that they’ll struggle sometimes and that it’s perfectly fine will make them more motivated, single-minded and feel supported in their journey.
There are no red pen marks for missed notes in music the way there are on tests — there is nothing to feel bad about when you play something “wrong” in music. To become skilled at a musical instrument one needs to know what it’s like to sound off key. They need to sound bad before they sound good; they need to work on things just beyond what they are capable of in order to get better and smarter, and that means they need to make mistakes.
HARD WORK BEATS TALENT EVERY TIME
With playing an instrument, as in other areas of life, there’s always going to be someone more talented, more naturally predisposed who’ll go through the process much faster and more effortlessly than your child. This, by all means, doesn’t mean that your kid is not cut for it or that it should be discouraged. In fact, this disadvantage may turn into a positive commitment, a driving force to fight the odds and excel.
Practicing a skill over and over, the right way, fires circuits in our brains that solidify that skill. Sure, some people find some skills easier at first than others, but the people who practice that skill daily in order to carve it into their brain will always far surpass people who don’t practice enough. Practicing a musical instrument helps children learn the universal truth that hard work trumps talent.
When feeling down and discouraged, tell your child that success depends on the amount of invested work. This will be a valuable life lesson in general. Furthermore, it’s useful to zone out and don’t think about other people’s performance at all. Playing for the sake of your own pleasure and sense of accomplishment will teach your child to appreciate their work even more and enjoy it regardless of how they would be ranked or judged.
There are not many subjects taught in school that have the potential to give our children the life skills they need to be successful beyond their school lives. We as parents are obliged to guide them through misfortunes and help them learn as much as they can from what life throws at them. Our children can learn how to have grit, motivation, problem-solving skills, flexibility, and character by tackling the obstacles and challenges music playing inevitably carries.
About the Author
Simon Dupree has discovered he has a passion for music from a very young age. Ever since then, music has been an essential part of his life. When he is not practicing, he’s probably behind the keyboard writing for Music Groupies.