Can We Instill a Love of Music In Our Children?

     Here you are..the parental unit, who had a pleasant experience in one of the performing arts while in school. You found your bliss, you enjoyed the class and the teacher and you developed a love for being in front of people, either as a soloist or in a greater group.
     Fast forward to the adult parent of a middle school student, ( or slightly younger if if we are talking piano or violin.) The question… Can we force a passion like we experienced, or can we only provide an opportunity?

My story involves a life-long participation in music. I must have been an easy sort. I went with the flow, and maybe I understood I had to play something, because I did not out-and-out rebel against playing something. I took piano lessons , then thought it would be cooler to play accordion. Took lessons almost 12 years on accordion, and still took up trumpet in the 6th grade. Sure, there was a time when I wanted to quit. Accordion that is, but never did. The parental unit seemed to offer up a new instrument with the stipulation that I was to put in more time. The idea new instrument seemed to work. It only cost me 3 years more of playing. That ploy worked twice! I ended up with a pretty nice accordion.

So, I had incentives. Extrinsically I had a mother who played piano…She played one song really well. Dad played trumpet through college, and almost became a music teacher. My uncle played French Horn and had dabbled in music after high school. Intrinsically, I had the desire to be better than the older kids.  I set my sights on the better players in high school, and one-by-one, I picked them off. I started off last chair as a sophomore, and by the end of the year had challenged through another sophomore and and three seniors.

Back to the theme..What can we do as parents? I had a better-than-average understanding of music. So let us get our kids small group or private lessons, if there is time, resources and energy. If you don’t have those attributes, take your student to some cool performances that feature the instruments. Go to school or local university/community college concerts. Catch some locals at the nearby events that happen in the summer. Encourage them learn piano, guitar or ukulele to understand theory better. Theory is such a mundane word that really has some significance in developing an appreciation of the intrinsic value of music. It  is that “Intrinsic value” that hooks kids to the passion of music.

Chris Peters

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2 thoughts on “Can We Instill a Love of Music In Our Children?

  1. I often think I would have picked up a musical instrument sooner if I had just had the immediacy of exposure as a kid. Neither of my parents play anything (though in recent years I found out my father was learning guitar from his father in his teens, until football damaged his finger beyond repair), and though I knew that when he was younger, he was involved heavily in vocal music, he tore his vocal chords when I was two or three, so he’d left music by the wayside by the time I was old enough to have any memory. There was always music in the house – lots of records, lots of CDs. But, when it came to people who MADE music? I had this one uncle who could figure out how to play any instrument you put in front of him by ear. I remember thinking he was the coolest person in the world for that – but no one else.

    When I was 14, we casually picked up a guitar at a yard sale for $2. The will to learn was there, but no inspiration. And, no computer at home in 1994 (that wouldn’t come until college, when it became an absolute necessity). No money for lessons other than one brief stint at beginner lessons over the summer, with the second set of lessons cancelled because of low enrollment. No books to work with… No blatant encouragement. If I’d asked for books, I am sure my parents would have gotten me one, but I didn’t think to ask, and they didn’t think to give one to me and see what might become of it.

    I got into other things that my friends were into at the time, and with no one to share the “music thing” with, it fell away. Tried again in my early 20s with similar results. Only now, in my mid-30s, am I finally getting serious. It’s a really good time to learn, with internet resources aplenty, so I feel like the current generation won’t find their learning process quite so Me-Against-The-Void. It becomes so important just to have exposure to other people who love music and talk about music to keep pushing on, so I feel like a kid who’s surrounded by people who play music and talk about music and just plain love music has a much better shot than I did of learning young.

    Even now, I don’t have any friends or family members interested in music the way I am. It’s kind of become a joke. I’ve been told listening to my ipod on shuffle is “enough to drive someone mad” due to the eclectic variety and sheer quantity of it all. That amazing uncle has not been with us for many, many years. I have a musically inclined cousin, I hear, but one I haven’t seen since he was three. The internet age has proved a completely invaluable tool for me, though, since I can surround myself with music lovers, get my daily dose of people who know more things than me, or are happily learning things, just like I am, even if I still don’t have any musical minds in my immediate circle. I can hope that instant, worldwide availability will help inspire the next generation, too.

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    1. Shelby, You are not alone. I can’t tell you how many people I have talked to that have never had a brush with music, even my dear wife. I can’t imagine that. I was fortunate to have music all around me. I thought that was the norm. My peers, growing up, had the same background. Who would have thought that not everybody had the same opportunities. Hence my blog. I would hope that all the parents would offer some musical opportunity to their children, when they get to the elementary years. At least an equal option to what they would give to sports programs at those ages. Thanks for your story and comments.
      Chris

      Liked by 1 person

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