The music begins
When you bring home the… guitar, trumpet, piano, drums, fill in your choice, there is a look of awe and wonder in their eyes. They can’t wait to get their little paws on the thing. Even as you are explaining how to handle the instrument, they are blocking out your annoying parental tones and grabbing for it; ready to rock. They proudly boast to anyone who will listen, that they are taking music lessons. The lessons begin and they can’t wait to show you the first three notes they learned on the first day. To you, it is the sound of brilliance in the making. You want anyone who will listen to join in celebrating the best three notes of music ever played. Out comes the video phone and soon your little Mozart, your Louis Armstrong, your Taylor Swift is on facebook and youtube. (Justin Bieber was discovered on youtube, after all).
But then there’s homework
“I’ll practice everyday”, is what you were promised; as your little angel pleaded in the store. However, beyond practicing, your child must learn music theory. It starts to resemble school. None of their friends have to endure this abuse. Your little Mozart becomes distracted, and the resistance begins: “do I have to practice?”, “I’ll practice later“, “I’ve practiced enough.” Eventually there is the inevitable ear crunching, heart shredding: I HATE PRACTICING. I DON’T WANT TO PLAY THIS STUPID INSTRUMENT. I’M QUITTING! You cringe as you consider the monetary investment. You argue, demand and threaten until eventually Mozart marches to the instrument and defiantly slams out the assigned music 10 times faster than it’s meant to be played. You begin to weaken: does the world really need another piano player? Will the world end if Suzie is not strumming her way through it?
Do you give up or do you go on?
Consider this: I’ve never met an adult who could play an instrument who said, “I wish I didn’t know how to play…” the violin, sitar, bagpipes, harp, etc. There are two things I have heard: “I’m glad my parents made me stay with it” and “I wish my parents had made me stay with it”.
My stepson is the inspiration for this article. Like his father, he is a drummer. Because of dad, he started younger than most. He was banging on his first drum at one and was responsible for a daily drum practice at three. 15 minutes was all I required; at seven it became 30 minutes. I was the bad guy. I insisted, I pushed, at times I wavered, but endured. He’s 12 now and loves being a drummer; loves being the kid at school who did drum solos for talent shows. A year ago he made the mistake of showing potential on the piano…and so, once more, the cycle began. However, for the most part, we have made it to the other side. My stepson is now aware of his talent and sees himself as a musician. The practices come easier these days and more often than not, unsolicited.
Playing a musical instrument develops self esteem, social skills, promotes brain development and can even keep your child from abusing drugs and alcohol. I see discipline, confidence and creativity in my stepson that has been enhanced by music. Please visit: www.childrensmusicworkshop.com/advocacy/benefits.html. (no apostrophe s) There you will find videos as well as the results of studies, showing how children succeed in school and in life because of music.
It’s a personal decision whether or not to force your child to stick with an instrument. I recommend enduring. The battle may be long; I stuck with it for years, but you’ll see great things develop in your child and they’ll even thank you for making them stay the course; one day…