We know you know: Childhood development is a ripple effect. And it’s not just from statistics, although there’s plenty of research out there that has shown that your child’s exposure to reading, music, pre-primary education, and love all contribute to their wellbeing down the line. But do you ever look back and wish you’d stuck to those piano lessons? Or wish your parents had forced you to take French?
We want to respect our children’s own individual personalities and their likes and dislikes, but it’s also crucial that we expose them to new ideas and hobbies. And while it’s not productive to force a child to do something they don’t like, we should be able to recognize the line between encouraging sticktoitiveness to living vicariously through our kids.
Of course at Lil’ Jammerz, music is our favorite. Not only is music a great way to connect to our emotions, but it’s also a great way to express them. Music is one of the most ancient artforms, and you’ll be surprised what can just come naturally. And besides it being a lot of fun, that emotional sensitivity and maturity is the very stuff that helps to close the achievement gap in struggling kids. As kids’ brains develop, they’re ultra-sensitive to new ideas, words, sounds and interaction. When you listen to or make music, you’re stimulating your brain in a major way.
Here are three tips to get your kids interested in music and stick to it.
Let them pick it, let them play it.
It’s tempting to choose instruments or bands that we ourselves love. But if you want an instrument to be worth the money, it better be something that your child will actually pick up. When they’re little, we suggest playing a variety of bands and albums that showcase different styles and instruments. Sing along and dance with them, do karaoke, make up your own words…show them that music is about how you connect with a song.
As they get older, take them to see the music played, and then finally, take them to the store and let them feel it out for themselves.
Find a balance between fun and frustration.
Weather it’s watercolors, soccer or the drums, practice is a crucial part of any artform. It can be hard to find out when your child is just having fun, or if they want to learn something that will, at times, be difficult.
We find it best to ask kids when they’re not frustrated what they’d be willing to commit to. If your daughter loves to sing, ask her if she’d like to take voice lessons and how often she thinks she can commit. Then stick to that commitment.
Signing your kid up for violin lessons might be tempting, but not giving them a chance to decide which instrument and how hard they’re willing to work for it will likely result in them being disinterested in the constant practice they’ll need to do between lessons.
Let them be the band leader
You may have a big hand in who your child is, but you also know what it is like to be genuinely interested in something. If your daughter can’t wait to get to soccer practice or your son spends hours at the easel, they’re probably telling you something.
Music is all about love and passion. So when you’ve got nightly recitals in the living room…that’s a good sign.
Some kids end up hooked on classical, some emulate their favorite pop stars. Some kids bang around in the garage. Chances are you have a picture of what you’d like them to play that might be different than their ideas.
For this, we have two suggestions. One, remember that creative expression, growth and empowerment are what fueled you to expose them to music in the first place. And two, if you find yourself really wanting to guide your child towards a certain instrument or style, regardless of if they like it: you might consider picking up that instrument yourself and following your own dream while they follow theirs.