When interviewing prospective Lewis Eady music teachers, one of the questions I ask is –
Is there anything from your experience of learning to play your instrument, you now ensure you bring to your lessons? The answer is almost always the same.
‘Allow some space for my students to be creative, to try out something new, play with a song or share somethingthey have discovered.’
Wise advice I believe for not only music lessons but all other aspects of learning.
Allowing creativity to this extent can be challenging at times for us as parents however, making an active decision to allow maximum ‘play time’ can also be incredibly rewarding for us and hugely beneficial in the long term for our children.
Here’s how to make it happen:
- Start when your children are very young. Surround them with different genres of music, sing to and with you child, use body percussion and found sounds – river stones, sand, use and play with the sound of the wind, the sea, birdsong, your own heartbeat . Help them understand that music is everywhere and in everything.
- Find the right teacher for your child. One who loves sharing their music, their knowledge and who your child looks forward to spending time with each week. A strong musical foundation is essential to allow your child to collaborate well with other musicians and to appreciate all the elements that make up a composition of any genre. Choose carefully.
- Allow experimentation and cross learning on instruments especially in the early primary years. Knowing that what you are learning on one instrument can be transferred to another is encouraging and motivating. Ukulele is a great gateway to guitar, a keyboard/piano foundation is useful for every instrument, recorder a valuable introduction to wind instruments.
- Don't limit repertoire by restricting music choices to pieces for examination. Allow your child’s teacher space and time to encourage individual creativity and improvisation in lessons and to choose repertoire which motivates your child to play.
- Encourage, don't judge. Having enjoyed many years of acoustic music making, we now have many new electronic beats and sounds being introduced by our teenagers at home. Although I do ask for the volume to be controlled, I recognise the busy mind at work and try not to comment on the content. If I hear something I like – I comment of course but as it’s an area outside of my expertise – I try not to voice my opinion until it’s sought out.
- Allow ‘play time’ for yourself too. Everyone can communicate via music. If you don’t play an instrument yourself, sing. Notice natural sounds, use body percussion and don’t forget the role and power of silence in music. Some of the most powerful musical moments take place when there is no sound.
Being able to create and express oneself through the language of music is powerful soul-food. Paired with a strong musical foundation, adequate ‘play time’ will ensure great musical experiences and a lifelong appreciation and love for music making.