Notes on Parenting

Insights for parenting babies, toddlers, teens, and young adults.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Music In Me: Musical Talent and Teens

by Linda Shaw 

The Music in Me:  Musical Talent and Teens

Recently we had guests over for dinner and afterwards our son performed several piano pieces for them. (His favorite composer is Vince Guaraldi) Before it was over our guests were playing the infectious duet “Heart and Soul” with him and we were laughing and enjoying one another immensely.

Musical appreciation enriches our lives.  So many children and well-intentioned parents start their children with music lessons, but very few follow through to their teen years and beyond. I often hear young adults lament,  “I wish I had kept with my music lessons.”

So how do parents help develop their child’s musical talents? How do you keep teens that insist on quitting or not practicing, focused?
You might start by building your resolve through realizing the many benefits of musical education.

What are some of the benefits of musical training? Research has shown that Music Lessons can: 

  • ·      Help develop the brain in the areas of language and reasoning.
  • ·      Help students develop creativity and problem solving skills
  • ·      Improves SAT scores
  • ·      Help develop cultural compassion and empathy
  • ·      Improve a students quality of excellence and craftsmanship
  • ·      Teach the benefits of sustained effort and the benefits of hard work
  • ·      Help develop self-expression and increase self-esteem.
  • ·      Help develop teamwork skills and discipline.
  • ·      Help students conquer their fears and take risks
  • ·      Teach children how to perform well in a workplace environment.
  • ·      Prepare students with a life-marketable skill

So with all these benefits, why can it be difficult to help your child realize their full potential? Over the past thirty years my husband and I have attended a few concerts. All but one of our "grown"children chose to keep music in their lives through high school, of those four all have either minimally continued their music education in college or have used their experience to supplement their incomes. 

How do you keep your teen in tune?

  • ·      Resolve - Expect that when they hit eleven or twelve, they are going to become defensive about how they spend their “free time.” Build your resolve to not give in. Your child at this age is too young to really know what they want? Insist they keep with it. They will thank you later. 
  • ·      Routine - Insist they make time for practice in the form of a daily routine. Our children practiced before school. It made for early mornings, but we enjoyed their focus and they enjoyed the ability to relax after school. (  Linda and Richard Eyre Teaching Children Responsibility)  
  • ·      Resource - Network. Network. Network. Even if you have musical talents as your child becomes a teen they are looking for other mentors and new musical avenues. Develop a good relationship with their teachers, other musicians, friends and  musical family members.
  • ·      Recitals- Insist on recitals and concerts.  Playing without a goal is like going on a hike but  never arriving. You might also schedule them to play for church or other social gatherings. 
  • ·      Respond – When your child plays a piece of music make comments that are both instructive and supportive. Try not to nag or get into a power struggle. 
  • ·      Expose  – Enjoy many different kinds of music in your home. By exposing your child to the variety of musical genres you are giving choice.  In our home, evening and bedtime were set aside for classical music, Sundays were gospel, and weekends we enjoyed country, jazz, and rock.
  •      Have Fun - Music can emote the frolic within us. I can still hear my husband chorusing through the house as he sang "Awake and Arise" to rouse the children from their weekend slumber. 
  • ·      Camps - Summer musical camps help teens connect with other teens both in a social and creative way. Teens need to identify with others that have similar talents and skills. 
  • ·      Share - Music was meant to be shared with others. A good way to help them to excel and grow in their talent involves finding way to help the share their talent with others. Guests, family gatherings, church meetings, videos, Utube are just a few ideas. 
  • ·      Identify – Create ways to help your child identify music as part of their life. Photos and family letters  both help teens to identify and define themselves with music.
  • ·      Respect – Understand that they may not want to play a certain instrument. We insisted they play piano until 5th grade because piano is such a good base for all other instruments. After 5th grade if they wanted to explore other instruments this was fine. High school meant they were free to forego lessons for other activities. Of our crew only one chose to do so.
  • ·      Support – Attend as many of their recitals and performances as possible. If you play then play duets and trios with them.  Try to find music that bridges the generation differences and creates a bond between you. If you don't play try to invite guests to your house that do play. They will serve as mentors and role models for your teen.  

How do you encourage your child’s musical talent to blossom?

How do you help them keep that stick to it “ness” that is required for success?

Source: Children’s Workshop
.Dreamstime Photo



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