How To Support a Child's Discovery of Music

Back-to-school season often means that kids are involved in music lessons again after a summer hiatus. Even if you are not a musician yourself, you can influence future musicians in their joy of learning and creative experimentation. 

2008 Shelton, WA High School marching band

For example, here are two perspectives of the same event -- When our son was 6 years old we acquired an old upright piano. I loved to hear him experiment with music. One day he joyfully told me to listen to the music he made up. He pounded out deep, bass notes in a marching beat. Then the tune ascended up to a rhythmic dancing song of high-range notes. While he played he described a scenario that involved monsters that were depicted by the bass notes and how they traveled up to the high country and had adventures. I was delighted by this little guy’s creativity. Soon after this home concert, an elderly relative visited us. Our little boy was again playing his monster story song. I smiled and listened while I worked in another room. Our visitor called out in a grumpy voice, ”Are you just going to let him keep banging away on the piano like that? He's going to ruin it!” 

Our son stopped playing and looked at me quizzically.  I smiled and shared with the visitor the neat story of the musical monsters and their adventures. Our son relaxed at my obvious fandom and continued to play creatively. Our visitor was still not inspired by the nifty music, nor pleased with my support of  our child's "original composition".

In later years as this child learned and cycled through various instruments, eventually receiving awards and academic scholarships related to music, our relative also grew in his pride for our son's gifts. In fact, this wonderful relative became an enthusiastic fan of all six of  our children's musical skills, academic achievements and athletic efforts. His support and the positive support of other friends and relatives went a long way towards their successes.

 Be aware of your child's creative experimenting. Try not to be a grumpy or sarcastic audience. It may not sound like much to you right now but supporting a young child in their music efforts will go a long way to boosting their desire to practice more. Also, involving a child in music and creativity is one major way to setting them up for success in academics. [Read about the 5-year music and the brain study by USC neuroscientists HERE

I have included a video of our three-year-old granddaughter because I want you to notice the freedom and joy she feels around music. Even though she is so very young her parents let her have fun with music while teaching her to use the piano with care. You can see the positive results in the way her whole body is involved with music while choosing thoughtfully how to play the notes. Her made up tune is pure joy. 

Melissa, at offers this advice, “Many children find their musical potential squashed by parents who forced them to play an instrument they hated. Give your child a chance to find their own instrument, to decide which sings to their soul. Because when your child learns an instrument, you’ll be learning a lesson of your own, that your child is a person who is capable of great things.” 

Appreciate your little musician, even if you need to use earplugs now and then.

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