As parents, we're constantly seeking the best ways to nurture our children's growth and development. One path that has stood the test of time is learning music. From the soothing lullabies that comforted them as infants to the catchy tunes that make them sing and dance, music has already played a significant role in your child's life. But the question remains: Should you push your child into learning music? In this article, we'll delve into the world of music education for kids, explore the benefits it offers, and help you make the right decision.
Should I Push My Child Into Learning Music if They Don't Want To: A Personal Story
Our son Jay is 10 (at the time of writing this). He’s a happy, energetic boy with a lot of passions in his life. He loves playing soccer and baseball, he’s been in two plays and loves acting and singing, and he plays the violin at his local school.
A quick side note: At My Music Workshop we focus on piano, drums, ukulele and singing, why not the violin? There are a few reasons. Frankly, we wouldn’t have chosen the violin for Jay, but orchestra was the first music class his school offered, and they have a great orchestra teacher, so we went for it.
That was two years ago, when he was in the third grade. Now he’s in fifth and we have simply stuck with the instrument he started with. He also plays piano and drums and learns from us and from My Music Workshop. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend the violin as a great starter instrument for MOST kids. The exceptions would be if your child LOVES the violin and really wants to play, or if there is a strong local kids program that features the violin or other orchestral string instruments.
Frankly, I would have preferred that Jay focus on the piano as his main instrument, but our circumstances presented an amazing opportunity with the violin, and we feel that playing multiple instruments will give him a well-rounded musical education.
So, here’s the main part of this story…Jay doesn’t exactly love playing the violin but, he’s really good at it. He is one of only two kids in his grade who made the advanced orchestra at his school. But, he didn’t want to participate. Because this orchestra isn’t normally for fifth graders, he had to rearrange his school schedule, commit to 10+ performances, travel and practice…a lot.
If there’s one thing that is hard to get Jay to do it’s practice the violin. So, as parents, and musicians and music educators what do we do? We don’t want to push him so much that he ends up not liking music. But, we also know that kids would rather do things that are easy and fun than things that take work.
Ultimately, our choice was (and is) to keep him in the orchestra and encourage him to practice as much as required to keep up (and hopefully excel beyond that). We have little battles with him about practice, but we know he can do it, and the rewards will pay off. We’ve decided that Jay is now at an age where we transition from doing only things that he wants to do and that are fun and easy to things take work to improve at.
We feel that by sticking with this orchestra, and pushing through the challenges, he will learn that hard work pays off. This is not only a lesson about music but about life. He is at the age where he is able to understand these lessons and we think it will be valuable in the short and long term.
We also feel that when he able to master some of the pieces he is required to play he will feel great about performing them and this will motivate him to keep going. If he chooses to move away from playing the violin later, so be it, we are willing to take that risk because there is a great reward that can come from pushing through.
Can Music Be a Way to Teach Kids Perseverance and Hard Work?
Yes, I have always felt that music is one of the best ways to teach kids about perseverance and hard work. There is a direct payoff for practicing. And, that payoff is amazing. Being able to play an instrument is one of the joys of life, but you have to earn it, through hard work.
Being able to play an instrument doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time…a lot of time. But, the good news is that there are lots of little milestones that can happen, even after a few minutes of focused practice.
Ultimately, you know your child best. You know how much you can push them into doing something. However, as a parent myself I want to avoid conflict with my kids as much as possible. And sometimes it takes a little conflict to do what is right for them. If we took the easy route with Jay, he would not be participating in the advanced orchestra this year. But, we had to stand up to the conflict with him and do what’s best.
I encourage you, as parents, to get your children into learning music and keep them going, especially when it gets hard. It will get hard. Learning music is great at first. The first few weeks or months are the honeymoon period. People learn things quickly, they can play a simple song or a great melody or rhythm that they can use, and they play it over and over again (I cannot even say how many times my 5 year old daughter has played Mary Had A Little Lamb on our piano). But, soon after this honeymoon period, new things take a bit longer to learn and practice can become discouraging.
We can use what they learned in those first few weeks to keep them going. Building upon those skills and reminding them that they can do it. They can do anything they set their mind to. Setting their mind means committing. And that commitment is a whole family commitment. Whatever your family structure is, your kids will need encouragement and even persuasion to keep going. Very few kids will beg to practice their instrument after the first few weeks. That’s where you come in. The commitment is just as much on the parents as the kids.
So, get those kids learning music because the benefits are immense. The long term payoff is like nothing else. My friend Pat said, the other day, that he used to play piano growing up. He wanted to quit after a few years and his parents let him. Now, he regrets it, especially when he sees a piano. He wishes he would have continued. But, he won’t get that time back. Now he’s a working adult and likely won’t go back to learning piano.
Now is the time, parents. It’s up to us. You know your kids best and if you think music is in them, its up to you to help get it out. Your kids will thank you later!
If you're interested in your kids learning the piano, drums, ukulele or singing check out our on-demand lessons program at www.mymusicworkshop.com.