My goal as a teacher is to help make music a lifelong companion for my students. It is not about reaching a particular standard but rather about equipping them for a musical journey. Instead of setting out with an assumption that your child will become an accomplished musician, join me in one united goal: start them on a long-term relationship with music. This is not just a weekly class or something to do on a Saturday morning but is gearing them up to have music in their life forever!
I recently read Neil Moore’s ebook “Music and the art of long-term relationships”. In it he likens music to any long-term relationship where there are peaks, plateaus and valleys of enjoyment and progress and each of these peaks, plateaus and valleys will be short-term, medium-term or long-term. We can help our students and children to navigate their way through their own up and down musical journey by explaining and providing encouragement and support through the tough times and celebrating the peak times.
So what is your role as a parent in this journey?
- Bring your child to class every week. Show them that regular commitment is important for progress. Children that do not attend lessons every week start to fall behind and feel insecure. If you do need to miss a class, be sure to help them catch up at home using the weekly emails. “For a child to come to believe that a commitment is important to them, they must see and experience that you believe it is. They must see that you are committed to it, and that you won’t cave in during those times when they would. This is parenting by modelling.”*
- Allocate time to do their ’homework’ each week where you will not be disrupted by work, TV, siblings or other outside distraction. “Little and often” is the key to successful music practise so putting aside 3 slots of 10 minutes to sit with your child will be far more productive than an hour before class the next day! It will also make it more enjoyable and manageable for you and your child. Don’t forget that a 4 or 5 year olds attention span is still somewhat limited, especially after a day at school. If you start setting aside time for music practise now, how easy will it be to turn this into instrument practise when they are older!
- Attend sharing time. This is your opportunity to spend 15 minutes, one on one with your child, understanding what they have learned in class and how you can help them at home before the next class.
Show that you value music:
- If you are keen for them to enjoy music show your child your enjoyment and, most importantly share your love of music – whether that is Beyonce, Beethoven or Beauty and the Beast! Discuss music, listen to music and make music together.
- Even if we haven’t ourselves learnt a musical instrument, or had musch of a musical journey, as adults and parents we have the experience and benefit of having had long-term relationships. We know that usually “this, too, will pass” and can remind our children of this and help them get through any difficult dips in their journey. Equally we can encourage by celebrating achievements and progress during the peak times.
As a teacher, I only see your child once a week for a very limited period of time. I am their short-term educator but you are their life coach who can help them navigate their music making every day. Be there, encourage and value their musical journey and they will gain the most from it and hopefully continue it for the rest of their lives.