Parent to Parent: Keeping kids interested in music

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by KING 5 News

KING5.com

Posted on March 18, 2013 at 11:26 AM

As our kids get older and more distractions enter their lives it can be hard to keep them interested in playing an instrument.

Melinda Balgreen, composer and music critic, joined KING 5 in studio to talk about keeping your kids interested in music when they say they’re ready to quit.

Kids often lose interest in music lessons when they hit their tweens.

Why does that happen?

When your child hits a certain age — somewhere between 8 and 10 — their lives become more complicated. There’s the soccer team, or t-ball or the gymnastics squad. And there’s the lure of electronics: the video games, iPads, and iPods. Sometimes there are so many distractions that a discipline like practicing music just seems too much, and too tough.

How can parents find just the right response, instead of just saying, “OK, you want to quit, so just quit”?

Parents need to listen. If your child wants to quit, find out why. Is she bored with her instrument, worried about meeting a strict teacher’s expectations, isolated from peers who are not taking music lessons? Is she being asked to play pieces that she finds dull and uninteresting — or music that is so hard she feels overwhelmed?
Should parents check out what’s going on in the studio?

Certainly!  A talk with the teacher may help you determine whether the standards are too high or too low, and whether the teacher’s idea of motivation is a constant stream of stern lectures. It’s always possible that another teacher might be a better fit for your student.

What else can parents do to motivate that budding violinist or flutist?

Tell your kids:

  • It gets better. Remind him that the better he gets the more fun he will have. And stay involved. Listen tactfully to your child’s practice; help him set up a clear practice schedule with no distractions.
  • They’ll be sorry. As one leading Seattle flute instructor, Bonnie Blanchard, puts it: “I’ve never heard an adult say, ‘I’m so glad my mom let me drop piano lessons!’” Remind your student that quitting may be a decision she will always regret.
  • The hard part’s over. After a few years of study, your young musician has already gotten past the hardest part. He has really sort of mastered a “foreign language.”
  • Friends make it fun. When the kids are together, it’s less like “practice” or “homework” and more fun... which is really what you want them to feel taking their music into adulthood.

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