Since I was more coordinated and strong than I was graceful or fast, in those awkward middle school years I left dancing primarily to try a few sports. Turns out, I was embarrassingly slow. It was obvious on the court, field, and softball diamond. About this time, my dad convinced me to try golf. Mainly, he reasoned that golf was a sport you could take with you through every age, stage, and season of life. Every stage, that is, except maybe the broke stage. Ain’t nobody golfing without money! Sadly, my journey with golf ended nearly as abruptly as it began when I realized I was actually too quick to one thing—temper!
Now that I am a parent, I think about that experience and why my dad suffered through all of my golfing tantrums. Whatever activities our children do, they require investments in time, money, and patience. Some things may only be in my son’s interest for a short season, however, I also want to purposefully engage him in activities that can be a lifelong passion. In honor of Music in Our Schools Month, I challenge you, as I’ve challenged myself, to invest in the future of music— let’s foster musicianship and love of music in our children.
Despite the fact that nearly every student responds to music in some way, music programs are constantly on the proverbial chopping block in public education. Musical exposure, therefore, is becoming increasingly a parental issue. Sometimes parents struggle to take on this role, especially if they don’t consider themselves musical. Early and constant exposure to music education has many proven benefits. Here though, I compiled a short list of ways you can embrace music with your child.
After you see how easy it can be, I dare you to google the mental, health, and emotional benefits your efforts will have on your children in the long term!
5 Easy Peasy ways to introduce and/or interest your child in music
1. Go – First, just commit to GOING to something musical. There is music in movies, yes, but I am talking about events where music IS the show. If you have a local theater or orchestra, look up kid-friendly events. Search for Facebook events that feature live music. Stay in the stands and watch the band during half-time. This really can be as fancy or free as you make it.
I took my son to a local Christmas Concert with the Dayton Performing Arts Alliance. The first song was the orchestral arrangement for Polar Express. My son LOVES Polar Express and watched, enthralled. I enjoyed it too, truth be told! Can’t wait for the March family production—check it out!
2. Normalize – Establish a family policy that everyone takes lessons for a period of time. Have that instrument in a main living space? Wherever that is in your home, make it accessible, or better yet, MORE accessible than the family TV. Make it normal to pop by and play a quick tune before dinner. Your ears may bleed now, but you’ll thank me later.
3. Learn – Getting lessons for your child is a no-brainer. There are many options, so take time researching. Depending on the age, you may be able to take a mommy-and-me course or group classes. You may be surprised how affordable it can be for extracurricular music programs. DO take advantage of school-sponsored programs once they are old enough! An added tip I really wanted to advocate, though, is learn yourSELF. Sit in on the lessons or encourage your child to “teach” you what they have been learning.
4. Incorporate – this is a simple switch. Incorporate music into other areas of your child’s daily routine. Put on acoustic while your children play. Or play the soundtrack to your child’s favorite movie. Find educational songs about something your child loves. (There is a reason kids memorize the alphabet in a song and only clean up “happily” when singing the “Clean Up Song.”)
5. Mentor – Find a successful musician to tell your child about how much music has enriched his or her life. If you are that musician, mentor others. Kids need to know that music is not just for nerds or depressed shut-ins.
In what ways do you support music or performing arts in schools or at home? I’d love to hear your ideas!