Everyone wants the best for their children, and for musically inclined parents, some sort of prowess on an instrument is part of that.
Here’s some instructions on how to introduce a small child to a musical instrument. Of course, this article isn’t limited in use to parents; teachers, uncles and aunts, cousins, and even sisters and brothers can use it, anyone who wants to start a child down a rewarding and exciting lifelong path to musical excellence.
1. Teach them how to listen. Nothing is more important to a musician than his ear, so you’ll be doing your child a great service to introduce him or her to the process of listening to music, and it’s an essential step to take before introducing a child to an actual instrument. Buy your child a cheap tape or CD player (Fisher Price makes some that can’t be turned up too loud, which avoids the risk of ear damage) and some muisc with happy, bright lyrics. There’s no shame in picking up some old Raffi tapes, or Peter and the Wolf and other classics of childrens’ listening. Play music around your house, too, whatever you’d like to listen to, as long as the lyrics are appropriate. Your child will quickly develop favorites from your own selections. Talk to your child about why he likes the music that he likes, and what makes music sound good.
2. Introduce the instrument as a game. With especially young children, it’s of course best to start with a simple, hard to break instrument, such as a small xylophone, piano, or drum. Make a simple rhythm on the instrument and ask your child to do the same. Let them play around, and don’t be too insistent on right and wrong answers. You’re mainly helping your child develop his ear, and that develops through experimentation and listening, so don’t get in the way of that process. Make sure that playing the instrument is fun, and that it’s seen as voluntary rather than mandatory. You can also encourage your child to dance or sing along to music, which helps to build a sense of rythm and tonality.
3. Don’t force anything. It’s important that the child realizes that music is a way to express emotion and have fun, not a chore. Let children explore their musical instrument and have fun with it. You can gently remind them of it if they seem to ignore it for a few days, but don’t try to force young children to learn songs or do anything that they don’t want to do, and don’t start any sort of involved musical instrument lesson until about age 7. Until then, ballet, dance, and music appreciation classes are great ways to get small children involved in music.
Do you have any tips for introducing children to musical instruments? Post in our comments section below.