As a musician and piano teacher, I cannot stress enough the importance of learning an instrument. There are plenty of emotional, intellectual, social and cultural benefits to playing an instrument. In addition to these benefits, learning music becomes an integral part of one’s life.
What does music mean?
Music is an art form that elicits an immediate emotional response from the player and listener. Performing an instrumental piece goes much beyond playing the notes itself; the aim is to convey a story using different expressions and interpretations to make this happen. When I listen to my own playing or that of a concert pianist, I feel as though I am transported to a different setting where I am taken on a journey that is written by the composer. Music offers cultural and historical exposure, as it has always been an essential part of humanity.
I began my piano studies when I was four years old. Although I recall experiencing difficulty learning at such a young age, it was also a great time for me to learn as I started developing my imagination and reading abilities. I still remember the joy that I (as well as my parents) felt when I could start playing a familiar tune, such as My Bonnie Lies Over The Ocean.
As well, it was even a greater delight when my playing became more musical and enjoyable to listen to. From playing my first Minuet by Mozart to a more advanced piece such as a Prelude by Rachmaninov, every piece that I’ve learned had been very engaging and a valuable part of my journey.
Playing an instrument is enjoyable and fun, but there are always hurdles to overcome and there are even times when one may feel tempted to give up. In spite of this being the case, the dedication and hard work is worth it. Learning to play an instrument has taught me how to focus and persevere. Some of the “less pretty” aspects of learning to play (such as technique and note‐reading) have really provided a foundation for better performance.
Through learning to play an instrument, I have gained more confidence in my abilities. As well, I have a means of creative expression that I can share with everyone. My past experiences, including playing at recitals and performing at school talent shows, have been some of the highlights of my childhood. Even today, I experience immense pleasure when I am sharing music with others.
Hopefully I have inspired you to consider providing your child with music lessons. So here’s the next question: I’d like to give my child music lessons. When should I start?
It is possible for your child to take formal music lessons as young as the age of four, but it is not necessary to start this early. Younger children require additional guidance, in which the parents should also learn the material in order to assist with their practices at home. Although it may give your child a head start to begin lessons at a very young age, he/she would need to have the right support in order for this to work.
Otherwise, your child who begins lessons around six or seven years of age is likely to progress faster than someone who is younger, since he/she have more developed reading skills.
Even if your child does not take lessons at a very young age, your child can begin to explore music through having musical exposure – whether it’s from attending concerts or listening to different music.
Finding a Teacher
It is crucial to find a good teacher from the very beginning in order for your child to receive adequate training. When it comes to learning to play an instrument, having one-on-one lessons from a consistent teacher is highly recommended because it is a craft that requires full attention and dedication.
An experienced and qualified teacher may have a higher rate, but it is worth the investment since it is much more costly and damaging to provide your child with mediocre lessons (which not only hinders their progress, they would not be able to play at a more advanced level).
When you are looking for a teacher, make sure you interview them and find out about their experiences, skills and style. See if they have a strong musical background (in teaching and performance) and if you could get references or testimonials. It is also important that they can provide a friendly teaching environment and are able to successfully communicate knowledge to you.
Once you decide to settle with a teacher, make sure that you are receiving constant feedback on your child’s progress and that you’re setting goals together with the teacher to help your child succeed. As well, it is important that the teacher takes an interest in you personally rather than just being another client.
For further information about how to enrich your child’s musical experience, I highly recommend that you read Your Child and the Piano by Margaret Grant.
We’d love to recommend a book:
This Is Your Brain on Music: The Science of a Human Obsession. What can music teach us about the brain? What can the brain teach us about music?