“Stop it!”, a mother at my child‘s birthday party ordered her child. I looked to see if she was using the couch as a trampoline or hanging from the ceiling fan. All she was doing was playing our piano sitting in the corner of the dining room. I smiled reassuringly, “Oh, it’s all right! I don’t mind if she plays.” The mother gave an emphatic shake of the head, “No, none of my children can play the piano unless they are taking lessons.”
As a piano teacher, I’ve watched many children over the years “take lessons”, but I’ve only taught a few who love music. I’ve taken children through the mechanics of scales and quarters notes and half rests and made the introductions to beautiful music. However, I realize that my hands are partially tied if the parent is not involved in encouraging that love for music in their child.
When a student comes to my home for the first time, I ask them if they have something they can play for me. They’ll look at me quizzically since they’ve never had a lesson before. I get a feel for which students will be a success when they give me a shy smile and say, “Well, I kind of made up this song.” This doesn’t usually happen if they’ve never been allowed to touch the piano before.
With my own children, here are a few things we do to encourage the love of music in our home:
- Listen to good music. Yes, I play music at home and in the car. I play it on the piano…just for fun. I play it on the CD player in the living room. I play it over the speakers in the car. My 2-year-old memorized an entire CD this way. My older children learned a hymn by heart and sang it for relatives just by listening to it in the car as we ran errands.
- Get them involved. As we sit in church, I tap my baby‘s hands to the rhythm of the music as soon as they can sit on my lap. I don’t know if it actually makes a difference in their musical knowledge, but it sure makes them enjoy the worship service. I encourage my children to “play” our piano whenever they are interested. Our only rules are not during mealtimes or quiet times and only play with fingers (trust me that this rule is born of experience!). My brother and I used to sit on the front seat of church with a toy guitar and a keyboard with volume on low and play along with the music. This gave us confidence we needed and we still play today…except we have real instruments now that are even connected to the sound system!
- Give them lessons. Not everyone can afford private lessons especially with multiple children. However, this is one item we budget even at small sacrifice. If they learn enough to play for themselves, they will enjoy music for a lifetime.
- Make it a family activity. I have fond memories of road trips when the miles melted away as we sang every song we knew. This is how we learned harmony, though we didn’t know it at the time since we were having so much fun. My husband’s family likes to sit around and play guitars together. In our house, we sometimes play a song and “act it out” by tiptoeing during soft parts, “dancing” quickly to fast parts and hopping on staccato notes.
What creative ways do you encourage a love of music in your child?
Jennifer Self is a disciple of Jesus Christ who loves following His plan for her life as a wife to the most wonderful man in the world and mama to four little blessings. Her days are filled with spending time with her man, homeschooling, preparing reasonably healthy meals and keeping the dust bunnies and the clutter monster at bay with a little blogging mixed in. After her family has been taken care of, she dabbles in her other passions of reading, health and music. She blogs about her life, her Heavenly Father, marriage, parenting and home at www.joyeverafter.blogspot.com and real food for real families from the perspective of real faith at www.growingreal.net.