How to Raise a Musician Part 1
The subject matter of this blog edition has been weighing heavily on my mind of late. I have been playing guitar for nineteen years (I began at age 6). I also have 14 years of experience as a private music instructor. In those many years, I have taught quite a large number of students, many of whom were children. I have also had many discussions over the years with fellow music instructors about teaching children. Those conversations, combined with my personal experiences growing up as a young musician, plus my observations from a music instructor’s perspective, along with the application of some simple Biblical principles to this subject, have led me to point out seven recommendations about raising a young musician that are extremely important for your child’s success in music and beyond.
Create a musical presence in your home. Play music throughout the day. Take them to hear good music. It is especially good to let them see young people playing instruments and serving the Lord. Observing music in action will motivate them. Let them see, hear, and hold instruments at a young age. Allow them to only hold an instrument under your watchful eye at first, which will help create the mindset that holding an instrument and owning an instrument is a privilege to be earned. Doing so will nurture a respect for the instrument and will cause them to want one for themselves all the more. Be aware of your child’s interest in music. Watch their body language and listen to their comments to find out what instrument they gravitate to the most (they will likely like more than one, but they will probably prefer one a little more than the others). Once you get to this point, you’re ready to buy them their first instrument.
One very important piece of advice is offered here from a musician’s point of view: DON’T buy the cheapest piece of an instrument you can find. Many folks say, “Well, I want to start them off with something inexpensive and gauge their interest before going further.” While that is a fine and good thing to do, you need to consider the following points before you buy, so that you will make a good, inexpensive purchase and not just a cheap one.
a) Set a budget of $125 or higher. This applies especially if you don’t know much about musical instruments. Many cheap guitars, for example, have serious structural issues like tuning gears that are faulty and bridges that begin to peel up off of the guitar. Not only do these problems make the guitar pretty much useless to play, it will also be next to worthless as far as resale value. It’s better to save for an extra few months in order to purchase a reliable instrument that sounds good than to buy one that will fall apart or one that your child will struggle to play.
b) Buy an easy-to-play instrument. An instrument that is hard to play is most discouraging. Make sure to have a music store set up the instrument in good playing condition before you give it to your child. For more instrument-purchasing tips, check out http://blog.thegospelworkshop.com/what-kind-of-acoustic-guitar-should-i-buy/
c) Buy some simple accessories. I have also written a blog that will advise you on guitar accessories. Here is the link: http://blog.thegospelworkshop.com/guitar-accessories-buy/
d) Get them access to music instruction. No one is born a musician. Every one has to learn, and the best way to help your child be musically successful is to provide them with quality music instruction. Thegospelworkshop.com is a great and affordable choice.
Learning to play an instrument requires dedication, determination, and lots of practice! Discovering that playing an instrument is more difficult than first thought can temper a child’s enthusiasm and even cause them to become discouraged. Two things happen when a child gets to this point: they get a little discouraged, and they don’t want to put in the necessary effort to improve. This is quite possibly when you, as the parent, will play your most important role in the process. You must do two things: first, encourage them and tell them that they can do it, and secondly, hold them accountable for their improvement which we will talk more about later in Part II of this blog. Encouragement to keep going will be important throughout their years of learning. Also, encourage them to start using their music for the Lord. Set some goals like playing a song at a church function or service, and then build on that. Nothing is more satisfying than accomplishing a goal.
This blog is part I of a 2-part series