Small Children, Major Musicality: Raising a musical child

Raising children to be musical can be an intimidating task, especially if you aren’t musical yourself. Many parents worry about when to begin music education: how early is too early? A kindergarten or pre-school may include some music activities, but are they really helping nurture your child to their full potential? Instrument lessons are easy to arrange, but which instrument – and is learning to play an instrument really all there is to becoming a good musician?

Gina Weibel is part of the team at Let’s Play Music where they teach a “Complete Musicianship” approach from an early age. In a recent interview she helped to answer all of these musicality questions.

This is a summary post.
→ Read the full interview

It’s Not “All in the Family”

Despite what you might have heard, parents don’t need to be musical to raise a musical child.

Musical ability isn’t a “gift” or a “talent” so don’t worry if you don’t feel confident in music. It doesn’t mean your child can’t become an excellent musician themselves!

By simply informing yourself about the options available and the concept of “complete musicianship” you can make suitable choices that are best for your child.

Some early music education programs, including Let’s Play Music, encourage parents to attend and participate in classes. Many parents are surprised to discover their own musical skills emerging!

The Missing Piece

Whether or not you are musically trained yourself, you may be unaware that traditional music education actually neglects some key areas.

Private music lessons tend to focus on reading and performing music on a certain instrument. That is important, but you can spend years taking that kind of lesson and still not feel competent in making your own music!

If you want your child to feel confident and capable in music, it’s important to provide them with music education which covers more than just these instrument skills.

A complete musicianship approach, such as that taught by Let’s Play Music, means an approach incorporating more than just instrument skills. It will incorporate other key areas such as ear training, theory and composition skills.

“Success” at Let’s Play Music includes such abilities as:

  • Basic piano skills
  • Reading music notation
  • Singing in tune
  • Singing harmony
  • Singing middle C on command
  • Finding other pitches relative to a given pitch
  • Recognising intervals, chords, and major/minor tonality by ear

Putting this broad foundation in place early prepares children to benefit much more from private instrument lessons later on. You are nurturing a truly musical child, rather than just a child who has been trained to play particular pieces on a certain instrument.

Too Soon?

Parents anxious about their child’s music learning tend to wonder how early is too early to start. You want music to be an enjoyable experience for them and you want to make sure that classes will be worth the time and money spent – so you don’t want to begin before they will benefit. But stories you hear about musical prodigies who started incredibly early means you don’t want to wait too long either!

Children can begin learning important musical skills as early as two years old.

Let’s Play Music offer “Sound Beginnings” classes for ages 2-4, as a precursor to the main LPM syllabus. In these classes children are able to begin exploring music-making alongside their parents in a fun way.

The skills they learn prepare them for the more advanced skills in Let’s Play Music classes. They can also relate to their regular school curriculum, such as learning about colours or the months of the year.

This all leads to developing an attitude about music and their own musical “talent” which launches them to success in the years to come. The musical child becomes a musical teenager and then an adult who never thinks twice about whether or not they “are musical” or have what it takes to be an excellent musician.

Technology: Blessing or Curse for Early Music Education?

Let’s Play Music believe that music education technology should be seen as a supplementary tool, not a replacement for personal teaching.

Using an iPad for example can be a great asset for music teachers, making a wide variety of resources conveniently available. However electronic devices can also hinder learning by offering distractions from the core practice activities.

Let’s Play Music focuses firmly on face-to-face in-person learning because children learn best when a caring adult is involved.

Raising a musical child through complete musicianship

By choosing a program which teaches “complete musicianship” you can ensure you give your child a strong foundation for learning music and greatly help them to reach their true musical potential.

If you want to nurture a musical child, start thinking about choosing a music program for them from as early as two years old.

Try to find a program which develops the “complete musician”, such as Let’s Play Music.

Providing your child with training in complete musicianship ensures that whether they pursue a particular instrument or not, they will always have a confident and capable relationship with music, and so be free to reach their true musical potential.

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