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Introducing Music To A Child/Concerns
Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 (6 votes) 
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EJ-Kisz
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August 8, 2012 - 10:45 am
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Hey Everybody!

On several occasions, I've been approached by young/new parents asking about how & when to introduce music to their kids.  Most are afraid that they will sign up their kids for lessons and their kids will grow to hate it.  

I, myself, wanted to learn willingly, but I know plenty of other musicians who were dragged......kicking & screaming.....to lessons and now appreciate it.  I also know others who are still scarred from endless hours of practice and lessons, who will never pick up an instrument again.  

How would you introduce music and playing to a child?

I've given trumpet lessons for over a decade now and most of my old students were of the "dragged kicking & screaming" variety.  I learned that I had to make it fun for them right away so they wouldn't be scarred by the experience.  (THANK YOU Mr. John Williams & Indiana Jones!!!!)  

What kind of teacher would you like to see for a child?

Now that I'm playing violin in public more, I have young children and their parents approaching me more often.  Some kids are really shy and kind of look embarrassed when their parents mention that they were interested.  I usually try to play something funny for them like a cartoon-like slide, to lighten the mood and get them laughing.  But I still get the usual questions from the parents.  

Sorry for the long rant, but I just wanted to get your opinions on the matter as I love to see kids at least try music!

Thanks!

~EJ

“Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.” ~Benjamin Franklin

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dionysia
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August 8, 2012 - 11:00 am
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I have two kids. When they were babies they had rattles, jingle bells, drums and a toy xylophone, as well as lots of baby dvds with music on them. When my daughter (oldest) was a year or so old, she took great interest in her father's guitar, so I bought her a cheap First Act ukelele to play with instead of her dad's $900 guitar. She later found my bamboo flute but couldn't blow across the hole correctly, so she and her brother both got $1 plastic recorders from WalMart.

 

Fast forward several years. My daughter is interested in music, my son - not so much. They have a large collection of instruments of varying quality, and if they are serious about learning, I have no problem getting them something nice. We have never pushed them, but made available options to explore. We don't have the resources for formal instruction, so my kids will have to settle for being self-taught, with help from sites like this, YouTube videos, and instruction books.

 

If we did have a teacher, I would want someone patient and fun, who treats music as a universal human language that anyone can learn, not as some sort of secret mystical society that only the truly "talented" can join.

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Kevin M.
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August 8, 2012 - 11:25 am
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I think the biggest problem with kids taking up violin is the parents who have in their head that a violin is going to cost them thousands.

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DanielB
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August 8, 2012 - 12:29 pm
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My kids grew up around music and instruments.  Even as babies they'd sometimes tinker with the instruments a bit or sometimes quite a lot.  Kids are all different, but mine never harmed an instrument other than pure accident that could happen to anyone.  Nothing "fatal", in any case.  But I think they grew up with a respect for instruments because they learned it by example.  If they had an interest in an instrument, they could play mine if they handled it properly and took proper care of it.  However, to date, only one out of four of my kids is actually a musician.  LOL  I don't think one should press that issue.  Make music available as part of their environment if you can, encourage it if they have even a passing interest, but I feel it is a mistake to force it or try to push them towards it.

That is parental philosophy, though, and not everyone will see this issue the same way.

Sure, I am a musician, so when hanging out with other musicians in a place like this it would be neat to be able to say that all of my children are amazing musical prodigies.  But that just isn't how it worked out, and they all have their talents and achievements that I can be proud of them for. 

What kind of teacher would I want for my kids?  Uhh.. a good one?  But those don't grow on trees.  Finding ones that know their stuff is part of it, and then from those finding at least one that your kid can get along with, respect, and be motivated by is the other part.  Ideally is if the person can play music that they can interest your kid in enough that the kid is going "I want to be able to do that!"  But best of luck on all that.  LOL

 

@kevin: Popular violin culture tends to foster that notion, I think.  The tendency to think of any violin in the "First Act" price range as a "VSO" doesn't help much.  Sure, a very good quality instrument is great.  Violins can even have investment value in some cases.  But that's not what most parents can afford and so it is not what most kids will start on.  People can laugh about the VSOs and Chinese ebay or amazon instruments under 100$, but I think those have done more to get more people interested and playing in recent years than folks want to believe.

But you just don't see people getting the same amount of crap for getting their kid a 50$ acoustic guitar as you do for a 50$ acoustic violin.

"This young wine may have a lot of tannins now, but in 5 or 10 years it is going to be spectacular, despite the fact that right now it tastes like crude oil. You know this is how it is supposed to taste at this stage of development." ~ Itzhak Perlman

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EJ-Kisz
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August 8, 2012 - 1:59 pm
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@dionysia:  Oh my, your poor ears! LOL  That reminds me of my "drummer days" with my mom's pot's & pan's! drummer  I'm glad you allowed them to have that exposure!  I'd always get, "Eric, take that outside!!!" I must have gone through several toy harmonica's, kazoo's, recorders and keyboards as a kid though.  I think that's why I love playing music today!  That's a very good approach!

 

@kevin:  I've experienced that first hand in grade school.  I was told by my 4th grade band music teacher that violin was too advanced for me and was too costly to play.  That's when I was pushed into other instruments that the school had in stock.  Now, thankfully, I know that's not true and I'm looking to expand my collection of violins.  I'm also thankful for this new violin movement happening across social media!  It's bringing children back to music and the violin!  Hopefully, it breaks all the stigma's and falsities about playing violin!

 

@Daniel:  I agree that parents should keep an open mind and they may have to accept the fact that children may not be interested in music and have talents in other areas.  But the most important thing is, they should at least be exposed to the opportunity and know that it's there if they're interested.  

That brings up a good question to:

 

In what ways can non-musically inclined parents introduce music to their children?  Maybe exposure to performances?     

“Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.” ~Benjamin Franklin

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dionysia
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August 8, 2012 - 2:02 pm
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DanielB said
But you just don't see people getting the same amount of crap for getting their kid a 50$ acoustic guitar as you do for a 50$ acoustic violin.

I think that might be because you don't expect to see someone with an acoustic guitar dressed in a tailcoat...

Now, on the other hand, if you saw someone make their kid a cigarbox fiddle I think it would be met with a bit of enthusiasm.

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EJ-Kisz
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August 8, 2012 - 2:07 pm
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Cigarbox fiddle???  Now that has me intrigued!! LOL  I've heard of them, but never seen one in person.  That actually sounds like it would be an awesome father-son/Mother-daughter/Parent-kid project!  

“Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.” ~Benjamin Franklin

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Picklefish
Merritt Island, Fla
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August 8, 2012 - 2:37 pm
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If the child is interested thats a plus, but its the parents who kill the dream for the child in the long run. There has to be a positive for the kids in order to stick with it. Parental involvement aka Suzuki method is huge for this. When I was growing up we were given piano lessons and after a year or so, dropped out. Lack of interest on our part, never practicing etc were the reasons. Later in Jr high, I was given a trombone and told I was in band. yeehaw! (not really) I did just good enough to sit in the very back and fake it all the way through High School, including marching band. So when my daughter was given the oppourtunity (school requires it actually) to play violin in elementary school I was resolved to be involved and make sure she knew what a practicing ethic was. I bought a Viola for me, and a Violin for her 1/2 size. Alas, not an abundant supply of training materials for me so I switched to Violin. And we learned together. Of course work got in my way, but she continued and without a professional lesson. She had friends of course who did take lessons and they shared knowledge, then she'd come home and train Dad. It was always fun and I didnt have to force her to practice. So I think parents who are actively involved in the music education and dont send the kid off to practice in their room unattended will have kids who excell in music, or have a better chance to. Last year as a Junior she played in her schools chamber orchestra.  Well, now 17 and dual enrolled in her senior year of highschool and community college she is taking a break from the Violin. Im sure once college is over she will come back to it, if not...shes well rounded and I get to keep the Violin. Win win for me.

As far as what age? I think 3-5 years is a good place to start depending on the child, the interest etc..

What kind of teacher? I'm biased on my teaching style. You have to connect with the child on their level. Since i'm immature, this works well. Its all about building relationships, just like any society. They have to have a passion for young people and the ability to always positively motivate.

"Please play some wrong notes, so that we know that you are human" - said to Jascha Heifetz.

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EJ-Kisz
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August 8, 2012 - 5:16 pm
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I never thought about suggesting that a parent learn with their child!  That helps out on so many levels!  I actually had those parents that would just send me off to my room to practice.  Then again, I don't think they realized how serious I was about learning until I was older.  Thankfully, I made a list of favorite songs that I wanted to play!  

That's the first thing I tell people picking up an instrument for the first time.....find a song that you absolute love and learning it will come much easier! blink

“Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.” ~Benjamin Franklin

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KindaScratchy
Massachusetts
August 8, 2012 - 8:05 pm
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dionysia said

If we did have a teacher, I would want someone patient and fun, who treats music as a universal human language that anyone can learn, not as some sort of secret mystical society that only the truly "talented" can join.

Well said, Denise. That's what Fiddlerman and this site are all about, isn't it?

exactlythumbs-up

When the work's all done and the sun's settin' low,

I pull out my fiddle and I rosin up the bow.

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EJ-Kisz
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August 8, 2012 - 10:31 pm
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How very true!  Music should be for everyone that wants to learn.  We range from music listeners to hobbyist to even the advance and we all have that "desire" to play in common!  For us, it's hard to put that fire out, but for children, that little spark of inspiration is very delicate and I'd hate to see it extinguished.    

“Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.” ~Benjamin Franklin

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gkeese
Amarillo, Tx
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August 9, 2012 - 3:02 am
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I am currently trying to inspire my daughter to play violin.  She is enrolled for 5th grade orchestra in the fall.  (her idea, not just mine wink)  This very evening, my daughter and I watched some vids here on Fiddlerman, and even watched some vids on YouTube.  However, when I thought she was getting bored, I introduced her to some vids of non-classical music.  I showed her Lindsey Stirling and David Garrett.  She liked L. Stirling.  I then showed her the Beauty of Hilary Hahn.  She thought it was a bit stuffy.  So I changed tactics and showed her Lady Gaga's "Bad Romance" on YouTube.  She knows the song and she thought it was a little weird.  (or maybe it was Lady Gaga she thought was weird, I dunno dunno

So i showed her Adele's, "Someone Like You."  She thought it was beautiful and really ejoyed it.  We flipped over to some Subway Violinist vids and others. . . blah, blah, blah, I am rambling now. 

My point is, my daughter was more interested in the vidoes showing the "cool music."  She liked Katy Perry's "Firework."  She likes her generations music done in a violin and classical way.  (must take after her dad!)  So maybe it helps to show what they like, in a different way? 

Worked for me...my daughter was going through my Shar catolog picking out her Shoulder Rest and Bow, lol!!! done

"Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish on its ability to climb a tree, it will live its entire life believing that it is stupid." -Albert Einstein

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Fiddlerman
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August 9, 2012 - 2:06 pm
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That sounds right to me Clint. Show the cool side of the violin too....
That and playing a lot of violin music in the background at home.

As far as a teacher introducing music and violin to a child, they need to make sure that the parents are involved as well. As a teacher you are involved with the child max 1 hour a week. That is 1 out of 168 - well less than 1 percent.

Looking for a teacher: Find someone who is not boring and who loves what he or she is doing. Also one who is competent. The two probably go hand in hand very often but not necessarily. I think a teacher to a young child must be able to demonstrate what they want from the student as well.

"The richest person is not the one who has the most,
but the one who needs the least."

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