How To Enhance Your Child's Musical Study

If your child is getting bored with routine music lessons, here are a few ideas for adding excitement to the program.

The familiar scene of a parent's groan as a child hits a discordant note during music practice brings smiles of amusement as well as recognition. Many of us have labored through both the practice session and the monitoring task. Whether parent or student, a music lesson can be a labor of love or just plain laborious.

But there are ways to make music more exciting to your child and prompt his or her attentive study to the instrument at hand. Here are a few ideas:

1. Buy the child's favorite music CD and play it with an emphasis on the instrument being studied. For example, if your son or daughter is learning to play guitar, play a familiar, beloved song with the guitar piece amplified. Your child will hear the song in a new way as well as learn to value the instrument from a personal perspective.

2. Learn along with your child. Consider taking a few lessons together. The two of you can learn to play duets or practice in succession, comparing performance and technique. Avoid competition or criticism, however.

3. Attend a concert with a noted performer of the study instrument. A child learning drums a generation ago might have thrilled to attend a Beatles concert and study Ringo Starr at his best. Today's musicians of note may hold special appeal for your child who is learning to play. Make an effort to get close-up tickets and attend together so you can discuss it meaningfully afterward.

4. Start a band. If your other children or spouse know an instrument, jam together on a Friday night. Play everyone's favorites. Invite friends over to listen. Prepare snacks like popcorn and soft drinks, just as though you were performing in a coffee house or auditorium.

5. Write your own music. Have your child write a piece of music for the instrument he's learning to play. Then ask him to practice it. Arrange a solo performance for family only. Dim the lights, get the musician to dress for the part, and fetch a stool for perching as he goes through his number. Respond thoughtfully with praise and suggestions, if warranted. Suggest he continue writing and collecting songs until he has enough for a future recording.

6. Watch a film. Many good videos explore the life of professional composers and performers. Browse the video store or library to find those that feature the instrument your child is learning. Watch the film together, discussing afterward what it means to dedicate one's life to a particular instrument, along with the cost (in money and time) of doing so.

7. Explore practical uses for music. Researchers report that music has a powerful effect on the human brain, from enhancing academic performance to soothing anxious souls. Urge your child to research one or more of these findings and share it with the family over dinner. Then discuss how he or other family members might like to explore the use of music in their own lives.

Music is a fascinating part of everyday life and transcendent culture. Encourage your child to explore, value, and create a variety of forms to help improve his understanding of and appreciation for its role in his life.

© High Speed Ventures 2011