Heading back to school means more time for your child to master reading, writing and arithmetic. But in this Parent to Parent segment, you'll learn why gaining musical literacy can enhance your kid's school year, too.
Paige Stockley, a cellist and teacher at Cornish College of the Arts, joined KING 5 to answer questions and talk about what music lessons can teach your child.
What is the right age to start music lessons?
Their ability to focus is the best guide. Generally I say 6 years old, but depending on the child it could be younger or older.
For younger kids, parents should relax and have fun with music when dealing with babies or toddlers. All children love music and movement, so join all the parent/baby, parent/toddler music and movement classes that are available in Seattle and just have fun.
Listen to all kinds of music at home, especially rhythmic fun music like Spike Jones, and sing to your baby even if you sing out of tune! It's good for their brains.
Can you give parents a couple of tips on picking the type of program or instrument for their child?
As ParentMap talks about in their article on this, by the time your child is about 5 or 6 they might have by now expressed an interest in a particular instrument, like cello, drums or trumpet.
Then it's time to decide if your child is best suited to a group class, or could have the kind of focus and seriousness that a private lesson can provide.
How committed does the child need to be? What if he or she has other activities like sports or others that they like just as much? Should a parent force it?
Parents need to talk with kids about the commitment and discipline to excellence, the concept of slow learning versus Internet fast and short attention spans.
Most important is that the experience of learning an instrument teaches patience and leads to a rich, satisfying experience of doing something well after many years of study.
Since I am in the parent world as well, I hear this a lot in the parent community. Mostly I see parents starting their child on piano with the idea that they will switch to something "later on", and then things get tough in the piano learning process (i.e. their child loses interest because it's not new anymore) and then they quit. I am a firm believer in picking the instrument you intend to stick with, and then stick with it.
This requires parental support! With my daughter, like swimming, there is no discussion about quitting. Both of those activities she has in her schedule and they will stay in her schedule until she has achieved a level of mastery.
She will stop swimming lessons when she is one of those teenagers who can do all the strokes, is safe from drowning, can save others and can execute a perfect dive! With her piano, she will keep going until she can walk into a room, sit at someone's living room Steinway, and play a gorgeous Schubert Sonata or Chopin or Beethoven and make people sigh with happiness! Why stop before that? To get to that level on piano requires steady study of at least 15 years. We love her teacher and will stick with her until the end.
With parents weighing their family commitments, both time and money, why is music an important activity to try and build in?
The easy answer is that all children love music. Whether they have the personality to go past basic enjoyment into the discipline required to actually play an instrument is something best judged by the parent.
That said, even the most focused child will need lots of love and support from family and friends to get them through the hard phases when the technical level gets more demanding.