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How do you get your children to continue with an instrument?


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My husband and I are very passionate about our kids learning an instrument. I am considering starting my son on group guitar or piano lessons since he is so extroverted. He is 5 1/2. What is the key to your success with your children practicing? staying with an instrument? :bigear:

 

a. Reward charts with a goal prize

b. Get rid of TV

c. Verbal praise or staying with them while they practice.

d. waiting until they are older and can appreciate lessons

e. do not give them the option to quit

f. all of the above

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he is very young to be committed to an instrument right now. I would wait till he was 8 or 9.

 

When my dd begged for lessons for over a year, we knew it was time; she was however told that she would not be permitted to quit until she has obtained the ability to play fluently. (for us we said it would likely be 4-5 years.)

Edited by fairfarmhand
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We've gone with option e.

 

We start our boys on piano once they can read (around age 5 or so). They've all gone through periods of loving it and not loving it, but none have truly hated it (though one was close, but he likes it now that he's advanced more). Learning piano is about as optional as math is around here.

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Sorry.. I have to disagree on 5 being too young; my nephew started violin at 5 and has done very well. I was also playing the piano before I can remember; the first piece I can actually remember playing was a Grade 2 piece.

 

I think it depends on what your parenting style is. If having your dc learn a musical instrument is important to you, then to my way of thinking it's just like anything else you believe they should do (manners/behavior, schoolwork, chores etc.) and is insisted upon in the same way.

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We've gone with option e.

 

We start our boys on piano once they can read (around age 5 or so). They've all gone through periods of loving it and not loving it, but none have truly hated it (though one was close, but he likes it now that he's advanced more). Learning piano is about as optional as math is around here.

 

Ditto except we start closer to 7 or 8 with piano. I tell ds I will appreciate it for him until he is old enough to appreciate it himself.

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Option E. As I write this, both DC are practicing their violins. :) (DS has two practices a day- one morning and one evening.)

 

We just make it a normal part of our school day. Math done, check, reading done, check, science done, check, violin done, check...

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DS started violin at 3.5 and DD at 2.5. DS needed work on his fine motor skills, so I chose the violin. He was too young to ask his opinion. Since we study the Suzuki method I do stay with them while they practice and verbally praise them. There are recitals and concerts where other family members get to praise them, too. Sometimes DS says he wants to quit, but I tell him I've already paid for the year and he has to finish it. By the time the year ends he has forgotten he said that. Also, my children have a great life. They do have some chores but generally they have a great time. Therefore, if you're going to live in my house, you're going to learn an instrument. After you're 18 you can do whatever you want. It's worked so far!

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I think it's important to create a lifestyle that supports music learning.

 

We started our boys in Suzuki violin - eldest ds started at 4.5, next one started at 3.5 and the last one started the month before he turned 3. The Suzuki method really helped me learn how to make music something enjoyable for us to do together. I've used a *ton* of different methods over the years to keep the boys motivated and to keep us having fun - not that every practice is fun (not at all!), but lots of them are. We've designed our own games, made up charts, rewards, etc.

 

We listen to a lot of music, go to live performances and we perform with friends. The boys enjoy being social with their music. They've always had group lessons along with their private lessons and they're all now involved in orchestra as well. The group of friends we play with just for fun has played in retirement homes (usually once every couple of months), at our church, and in a pretty big local contest (they reached the top ten and performed for a sold out crowd of 750). So it's not just lessons and practice - it's also fun and friends. We make sure that when we rehearse together we bring fun snacks and give the kids lots of time just to play. Our groups at the music school also have snack time to give the kids time just to chat and have some fun together.

 

In the summer we attend a Suzuki institute. We camp with friends and the kids go to their lessons together and play on the playground or swim in the lake in between.

 

When they get frustrated with practicing and tell me how much they hate playing and want to quit I let them know that they can quit when they're 18. Until then, they play :)

 

I'm sitting in our music room right now listening to ds (10) practice his festival pieces.

 

I think if I had truly known what kind of a lifestyle change music would bring I would have run away screaming, but I'm really glad that I didn't know. The boys love playing (most of the time) and I love listening to them.

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DS wanted to learn electric guitar. I wanted him to learn piano or violin. As I was researching options/classes/instruments, I was told repeatedly to let the child pick their first instrument as you will have more success if they are actually interested in learning that particular instrument. We did let DS pick (he went with electric guitar) and have never regretted it. He has been playing for 1.5 years now and is quite good.

We have had a few rough patches and we will let him take a day or so off from practicing, but he knows that to get good at the instrument he must practice!

We do reward with new music (CDs or music books) and verbal praise but don't punish by taking away tv or video games.

DS's music instructor rewards from time to time with gift cards to a local ice cream place.

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We don't give them the option of quitting. Like the lady in the Chinese mother article said, nothing is fun when you're just learning to do it. I don't completely agree with her but I get what she's trying to say.

 

The only thing I would be hesitant about from your post is the idea of group lessons at that age. It is difficult enough to learn an instrument, yet even more challenging to begin in a group setting. Just my 2 cents!

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I think it depends on the child, but there needs to be some degree of self-motivation in it as far as I am concerned. My 8 year old is learning the guitar and would have done well with learning it several years earlier. My 7 year old attempted this year, but was Mr. Goofy and didn't want to practice so I told him that he can have lessons when he turns 8.

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We've gone with option e.

 

We start our boys on piano once they can read (around age 5 or so). They've all gone through periods of loving it and not loving it, but none have truly hated it (though one was close, but he likes it now that he's advanced more). Learning piano is about as optional as math is around here.

:iagree:

 

 

That's what we've done. As they get better they will enjoy it more. Consistent practice is key.

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IMO there are great life lessons in learning an instrument. How to conquer challenges, the value of repetition and hard work, appreciation of beauty. It's not optional for us. There is much you can do to build anticipation and a positive beginning though. I also believe daily practice is a far more important habit than long practice. When my kids are beginners, we quit before they ask to, even if that means practice is less than 5 minutes. Habit formation is the goal.

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We're definately an E family. Having music lessons and practicing isn't optional. Some of the fun things (camps and contests, playing at the pub) are optional , though, and we give a little leeway in what she plays but that she plays is a must.

 

It might be important to know that my goal for my daughter's music instruction is for her to have a life-long love of music and the ability to express herself musically. I'm not looking for a music prodigy or professional.

 

My daughter hated piano. Hated it with a passion; it was the teacher, though. She had a really, really, mean teacher. My daughter was young and just equated awful teacher with just not liking playing piano. We finally ditched that awful woman but my daughter just hated the idea of finding a new one and I couldn't blame her. It really was that bad. We continued to practice at home w/ no teacher for a couple of weeks but what we came to understand was that while our goal was life long love of music, that woman had sucked the joy out of it for a good long while.

 

After a couple of weeks we signed her up for a week of camp where the students could sign up for one instrument for mornings and sample various instruments in the afternoon. We signed her up for violin b/c she had been reading the box car children at that time. We would have let her choose *almost* any instrument but she wanted violin. She just loved it!

 

She has been playing violin since. There are days when she doesn't want to practice but, well, practice she must. As others have said, it is just a part of her day.

 

About a year or so ago, though, she wanted to do less classical and more fiddle. She now primarily fiddles but plays some classical as well. She also loves hymns.

 

So, while the is no real choice in whether or not she has to practice, we've let her have some choice in instruments and style. I do think some choice is good. Too much choice, though, could hamper rather than help.

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My husband and I are very passionate about our kids learning an instrument. I am considering starting my son on group guitar or piano lessons since he is so extroverted. He is 5 1/2. What is the key to your success with your children practicing? staying with an instrument? :bigear:

 

a. Reward charts with a goal prize

b. Get rid of TV

c. Verbal praise or staying with them while they practice.

d. waiting until they are older and can appreciate lessons

e. do not give them the option to quit

f. all of the above

 

My short answer is e. We made learning the piano a school subject like reading and math, not something special and different and just as non-optional. Practice time started at 10-15 minutes a day and gradually increased with age and ability, but always had to be done before play time. I allowed them the choice of stopping or switching after 2nd grade.

 

Along the way oldest dd (now 15) took her 3 years, then tried guitar but decided she wanted to compose, so went back to piano and now is a very good pianist. She also paid for a year of cello lessons herself and would love to take it up again someday when she can afford the instrument and the lessons.

Middle dd (now 14) always loved the piano, but because of some learning challenges got to a point after 6 years where she wasn't making progress. She switched to the flute and it was like watching a duckling take to the water - amazing!!! She's in her 3rd year now and has played in advanced band at school and is now in school orchestra and will be playing in a community theater orchestra.

Ds (now almost 13) took his piano years, and three years of drums. Though he very talented at them, he wouldn't practice, so we stopped lessons. For the last 3 years he has not played anything In November he got an opportunity to take up piano again, and is blowing us away with what he's picked up over the years. He's amazing and dedicated, I can hardly get him off the piano.

 

You just never know :)

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My eldest son started lessons just before age 5 because he ready. He was sooooo ready.

 

Practice has been challenging off and on, but the main keys to keeping him on track in the beginning were:

 

Keep it short.

Keep it simple.

It's like brushing teeth, it's just something we do every today.

Make it fun.

 

Look for a teacher accustomed to working with young children, and you should get lots of good practice tips.

 

My ds still loves piano and is very good at it.

 

That said, our eldest ds was so successful, we started his next younger brother at age 5, and it wasn't a good fit. He was very good at it (for his age and level) but he didn't enjoy it. Music/instrument instruction is a part of our schooling, but I let him quit with the understanding that he will begin an instrument next fall, when he's 8 at the beginning of the school year. For him, waiting would have been better.

 

Cat

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We've gone with option e.

 

We start our boys on piano once they can read (around age 5 or so). They've all gone through periods of loving it and not loving it, but none have truly hated it (though one was close, but he likes it now that he's advanced more). Learning piano is about as optional as math is around here.

This is us too. Although I started them in Music for Little Mozarts at age 5, they both went through a time where reading notes on the staff was too frustrating, and we shelved the practice until about 7 1/2, when they were both ready to begin lessons with a "real" teacher, and do regular daily practice. Ds 11 is not always thrilled with practice, but he doesn't have the option of quitting. Dd 14 is really into the whole thing and finds performing very rewarding.

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I would wait just a bit. Start with some general music activities at home for now. We did Kindermusik until age 6 or so, then started piano. My girls started at 6, but I held off with ds until 7.

 

We are also an E family, but B and C also help. I recommend reading Raising Musical Kids. I learned a lot about structuring practices and supporting musical abilities (task oriented instead of time oriented, for example.)

 

We are very matter of fact about the fact that playing a musical instrument will be part of their upbringing. We take them to concerts and listen to music on CDs (especially flute, clarinet, piano, and orchestra, as that's what they play.) We also discuss openly the cost and how they should appreciate the opportunity to learn.

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Another vote for Option E. I did let one of mine switch from piano to violin after a year, but she still had to play an instrument. One of my dds has been asking for flute lessons, but I think at this point I'm going to add it to piano, because she plays well enough now I think it would be a shame to quit.

 

But quitting altogether, as someone else said, is about as optional as quitting math. :tongue_smilie:

 

We do also have a very music-rich environment. One of the things I've really liked about Suzuki is that it's given us a musical community. It helps that so many of their friends play.

 

I don't think 5 is too early to start "real" music lessons (especially they're Suzuki) - mine started somewhere between 4-5yo, but I think usually guitar is started later - I think it has something to do with having the finger strength to depress the strings. Violin strings are easier to press on, I think that's why it's usually the "starter" string instrument.

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Option e here. Frankly I've very rarely seen kids stick with it any other way. We make music fun and rewarding. But its part of their education and they know it. Its not optional.

 

I have 3 piano players, ds12, ds9, and dd7. Ds 12 also plays the french horn.

 

Terry

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Option E here as well.

 

My advice is not to start at 5 y.o. unless you are prepared to sit with him during every moment of practice for the next year (or two, depending). You can't just tell him to go practice at that age/skill level. I remember back when we started, I was about 8 months pregnant with someone, and I got a lot of kicks during piano practice ;). But it was a significant commitment on MY part to make sure that dd7, ds5 and ds5 practiced. I had to sit with each one. Sometimes dinner (which was just a few feet away) burned. (Don't wait till the end of the day!! Kids can be too tired.) Now that they're a tad older, I still have to sit with one of them, or at least drag him over to the piano. Or threaten to have DH help him :D. He doesn't practice well if I'm not highly involved. I'd love to let him quit, but the fact that it is a challenge for him, i.e., requires certain brain cells to be activated, is exactly why I insist that he continue. His poor piano teacher...

 

:)

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DS started Guitar Lessons last year, after he had just turned 6.

 

For us, music is NOT optional. We just told him that learning an instrument is a part of education. I asked him what instrument he wanted to play and he chose guitar, a ROCK N' ROLL Guitar! :glare: I wanted him to learn Classical Guitar but DH says that we want him to enjoy it, so let him pick what he wants. SO, for his 6 yr. birthday he got a bright red Luna Electric Guitar.

 

I'm actually amazed at how well he picks it up! He's having no trouble reading the music at all. Part of it is that we lucked out and got a GREAT teacher at the local music shop. Some lessons are better than others, sometimes he barely focuses, but others like this week are great. He played Jingle Bells at Christmas and now he can play House of the Rising Son, Aura Lee (Love Me Tender), Ode to Joy, Yankee Doodle, etc. His new song is the Snake Charmer.

 

What I found works best, is to keep the guitar and amp downstairs in the living room (where we spend most of our time). So, if I am fixing dinner or he's done school work and he goes to turn on the TV, I'll tell him to practice the guitar first.... sometimes he whines, sometimes he practices long after I told him too; but he does it.

 

We plan on starting him on the Piano with the same teacher, as soon as we get a Piano, hopefully next year :)

 

Whenever he grumbles/whines I just tell him that he is a child and he doesn't understand some things; there is a reason why we make him do what we do, and someday he will be grateful ;)

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Dropping in on the conversation. We just acquired a yamaha keyboard and I want to teach James how to play. I took lessons way back when at his age, but didn't keep it up. I will be relearning myself and also teaching James. What do you all recommend we start with - what is the best self study or teaching books you've come across?

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My husband and I are very passionate about our kids learning an instrument. I am considering starting my son on group guitar or piano lessons since he is so extroverted. He is 5 1/2. What is the key to your success with your children practicing? staying with an instrument? :bigear:

 

a. Reward charts with a goal prize This can work IF your child is motivated by charts. I have not used charts for music practice but have occasionally on other things. In general, though, I try to save big prizes for big achievements.

b. Get rid of TV We watch only very, very limited TV. Getting rid of the TV or limiting it has little bearing on music practice but LOTS of value for life in general.

c. Verbal praise or staying with them while they practice. Absolutely. This has been the strongest motivator by far for both of my kids, but especially my ds, who LOVES to practice guitar with his father. Let the sunshine of your presence infuse the process with love and fun.

d. waiting until they are older and can appreciate lessons I say the younger the better, BUT make sure you have chosen an instrument that they are interested in. For example, when we started ds on piano lessons, he HATED it, so we stopped. He was taking Kindermusik at the time, and a few months (1-2) after stopping piano, his Kindermusik class did dulcimer (a stringed instrument). He LOVED it! When Kindermusik was done we signed him up for guitar and it was a much better fit for him. If you foster the child's interests, practicing and continuing on will be much, much less of a struggle.

e. do not give them the option to quitI think it's fine to quit something that is not a good fit IF you have really tried your best and given it an honest chance. I will never regret letting ds quit piano and switch to guitar--he has stayed with guitar for years now and was invited recently to join a guitar ensemble. I will say, though, that just this past summer ds DID want to quit guitar, poor guy. He had a hard summer--he broke his teeth playing basketball, and then a month later broke his foot in a weird stationary bike accident (smushed between the pedal and the bike). Ds spent his summer on crutches and going to dentist, dr, and physical therapy appts. His desire to quit guitar was really more a product of the fact that he couldn't swim or play soccer or run. We did not allow him to quit guitar, but we did ask his instructor to stop doing more demanding works and let ds learn some rock songs. Allowing ds to play "fun" music and decreasing expectations was the right choice--as winter approached he started to enjoy guitar more and is now really soaring with it. Bottom line--sometimes there are good reasons to quit, and other times it's best to soldier on.

f. all of the above

 

Some thoughts above. :)

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Another E family here. with the caviat that not all my kids are the same. Oldest did not do formal music lessons (no $ at that point, and she's wired differently). started ds at age 8, glad I waited as he wasn't ready maturity wise till then (although he definitely was musically). We did Kindermusik prior to that. He's 14 now, has a fabulous teacher, and has ups and downs. He might love it one day and hate it the next. He's good at it, though. He does lots of festivals & competitions every year, as well as the certificate of merit program. I've told him he can quit when he finishes all the levels of CM (he's doing level 7, there are 10 levels). Thats it. He loves to play, doesn't like to practice, loves to perform. It is what it is. If I let him quit every time he wanted to....oy. Not happening.

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he is very young to be committed to an instrument right now. I would wait till he was 8 or 9.

 

When my dd begged for lessons for over a year, we knew it was time; she was however told that she would not be permitted to quit until she has obtained the ability to play fluently. (for us we said it would likely be 4-5 years.)

 

I agree. I didn't start my kids until they were 8, could read and practice on their own. I've not had a lot of difficulty keeping my kids interested at this age either.

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This is a sore spot for me. My parents were adamant about me learning and instrument, too. I took piano lessons for five years. I hated it. I never learned to read music. In 5th grade my parents made me choose a band instrument. I chose the clarinet. I played it for four years. I hated it. I never learned to read music. In 9th grade I picked up the bassoon because I was desperate to please my parents and be like my older sister, who was in the marching band. I played the bassoon for three years. I never learned to read music. In 12th grade I gave up music in disgust.

 

For some reason I have no musical ability. My parents' insistence that I keep going with something I sucked at made me hate it. I like to listen to music, but I break out in monkey bites whenever I think about having to read or play music. I won't even shake a tamborine.

 

I have a decent voice and wanted to take singing lessons. My parents never let me.

 

Please, please, please don't force your child to take music lessons if he doesn't want to. Offer him the opportunity; respect him if he finds it's not for him. Don't force him to play sports, either. My parents did that to me, as well. I quit in the 8th grade and it's just been this year, well into my 30s, that I have decided to give sports (ice hockey, no less) another try.

 

Tara

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Obviously I am in the minority but my answer would be none of the above. I think there has to be a desire to do it and I will not force the issue. My dh and both play several instruments and will support our children if they show an inclination. I don't think you can force a love of music. I think you can maybe force a toleration of it. I liken it to being forced to play sports. When I was a kid, the ultimate torture was being forced into team sports. I had no natural inclination and I have no appreciation for it now. My kids want to play and honestly, I would rather jab an ice pick in my eye than sit through another volleyball, soccer, basketball game or whatever the game is.

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I think our success began by allowing the kids to pick which instrument they studied. They were involved in the decision to buy their instrument so well. We made a big deal out of it.

 

But even before that, music was a part of our lives. We sang together, listened together, danced around the kitchen, attended performances, etc...

 

Quitting was never discussed and actually was an option for ds13 for about a year while he waited for his hands to grow big enough to play the electric guitar he wanted. He began guitar at 6yo on a small size guitar then stopped from about 7-8.5yo and began again when we found a better teacher and he'd grown. He is now an amazing guitarist and funny thing is he plays more on acoustic than electric. When he decided to pick it back up, he owned it and practiced.

 

For my little one, who started at 3yo on violin, they key was to make it fun. We made games of every practice. The actual practice was not rewarded but the rewards of practicing...mastering a technique, learning a new piece, reaching a goal were pointed out. We also never expected achievement with her but celebrated each step in learning so there was never pressure on her. She identifies herself as a violinist so quitting is not even something considered.

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For some reason I have no musical ability. My parents' insistence that I keep going with something I sucked at made me hate it. I like to listen to music, but I break out in monkey bites whenever I think about having to read or play music. I won't even shake a tamborine.

 

I have a decent voice and wanted to take singing lessons. My parents never let me.

 

All of my kids are very musical. I have to say if I had a kid who I could see really wasn't muscial and was truly suffering through lessons (as opposed to just whining and foot-dragging), there's a good chance I'd relent, but I'd hope for some other muscial outlet - I'd consider singing lessons a more than valid alternative in that case. Of course, if the kid was truly tone-deaf, there is some chance I'd give up and focus on other talents. :tongue_smilie:

 

I was fired from piano lessons, which I actually liked (even though I didn't practice all that much), partly because of my apparent inability to read music fluently (kept memorizing the songs instead - drove the teacher nutty). As an adult, I've started singing (choral) because I wanted a musical outlet and voice seemed the easiest "instrument" to learn. It's not too late if you want to sing. :)

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Option E for the piano. DD expressed an interest in playing piano at 5 and we made her wait a year. She never really jelled with teacher #1 so never really put her all into it. Now that we've switched teachers she has really taken off in her motivation and ability. Our plan is that she will continue with lessons until high school - longer if she chooses.

 

On the other hand, she also picked up violin about 6 months ago. She LOVES it and is doing very well but how long she continues is entirely up to her.

 

Both of our sons are percussionists and have been playing since 8 years old.

We believe that instrumental music is an important component of a well-rounded education so we'll insist on at least one instrument. Fortunately, dd is still on board with that.

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I'm another one who trudged to piano and never got what I was supposed to be enjoying about it. I gleefully quit when I was to old to force. I don't like music. I don't like to play it. I don't care to listen to it. Oddly all my kids have played an instrument, at least for awhile, even though I didn't really want to deal with it. Maybe the answer is not to want them to and they will.

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My husband and I are very passionate about our kids learning an instrument. I am considering starting my son on group guitar or piano lessons since he is so extroverted. He is 5 1/2. What is the key to your success with your children practicing? staying with an instrument? :bigear:

 

a. Reward charts with a goal prize

b. Get rid of TV

c. Verbal praise or staying with them while they practice.

d. waiting until they are older and can appreciate lessons

e. do not give them the option to quit

f. all of the above

 

 

My daughter started violin at 4, my son started piano at 5 1/2. It seems like group lessons would be a good way to start, but for a child that is very fast, it might be too slow moving. Or just too "sedentary" for a young child. For a child who doesn't have the best small motor skills, seeing other kids that progress faster can be discouraging. I know my own son didn't have the best motor skills when he started. But after about 6 months he started flying through repertoire.

 

Anyway - all of that being said, I'd recommend looking for a Suzuki program if you want to start at this age. Or at the minimum, a teacher that has lots of experience working with very young kids. You can do guitar or piano Suzuki method.

 

So, we go with options "C" and "E" on your list. Doing Suzuki, there is TONS of parent involvement. Even my son who is 10 gets quite a bit of help practicing and I take notes during lesson. We started doing kindermusik when the kids were 1. They both chose their own instrument proudly before they started. I personally think if you are invested in the process, your child has a much better chance of being successful. I'd recommend learning the instrument along side them. We have played reward style games with them at different times depending on how things are going. We celebrate their book graduations.

 

So for my kids, homeschooling is a privilege, not a right. Part of that education involves music lesson which gets into art, performance, music, and even history at some points. We regularly research the composers and music the kids are learning. So as long as they're homeschooling, music lessons are mandatory here. I'm hoping they go to high school graduation and then it's up to them. My son has now been at piano 4 1/2 years and he is getting quite a bit of attention for his skills lately. And when they get that far, they don't want to quit!

 

I think the biggest challenge starting up is building a practice habit. We practice first thing after breakfast 6 days a week no question. Even days we aren't doing school. Practicing with a 5 year old can be done in 10 or 15 minutes though. My 10 year old regular practices 45 to 60 minutes now.

Edited by kck
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I am in the I would not force them camp. I do not think that 5 is too young if the child is expressing a sincere and passionate interest in the instrument. Some people are musical genuises and start very young; however, if it is really the parents who are desiring that their 5 year old get serious about an instrument, well, I'll just say that's not my style.

 

I am a musical person. We listen to a lot of great music, and a wide variety of genres. We listen to music every single day. I supply my children with age-appropriate instruments from a young age, even if it's just rhythm sticks, maracas, recorders, and other toddler-friendly pieces. I practice my instrument in front of the children. I take their requests from time to time. :tongue_smilie: They play along with me. My 12yo has a guitar that he fiddles with for fun. He enjoys it. It's nothing formal, just fun.

 

My hope is that they will all express an interest as they age. My eldest has been playing trumpet in concert band for 2.5 years. My next two talk often of what instrument they will play when they are big enough (my 5yo has his heart set on my shiny, silver flute :D).

 

I will strongly encourage each of the boys to try an instrument (or two, or three...). It is my hope that they each find an instrument that they enjoy playing. I might even require a one year trial if it came down to it; beyond that, I would not force the issue. They will each learn basic music theory, regardless.

 

ETA: You know, I began playing at the age of 12. It was my idea. I wanted to do it. My parents never once had to remind me, cajole me, or bribe me to practice. I just really fell in love with music. That's what I want for my boys, if they play for an extended period of time. I want them to love it. That doesn't mean that they won't require some encouragement from time to time, but that it will be their own passion that pushes them forward, not mine. I think it would be a sensitive spot for me to have one of my children declare that their hatred for music was due to my having forced them through year after year of lessons.

Edited by Pretty in Pink
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We do also have a very music-rich environment. One of the things I've really liked about Suzuki is that it's given us a musical community. It helps that so many of their friends play.

 

I don't think 5 is too early to start "real" music lessons (especially they're Suzuki) - mine started somewhere between 4-5yo, but I think usually guitar is started later - I think it has something to do with having the finger strength to depress the strings. Violin strings are easier to press on, I think that's why it's usually the "starter" string instrument.

 

At our music school, Suzuki guitar kids start at 3 if they want believe it or not!

 

I totally agree with the music-rich environment of Suzuki. The Suzuki music community has been a wonderful outlet for us as homeschoolers. When you see the same kids week after week you consider friends, it's so much harder to quit. We're taking both kids to an Institute this summer! Very excited!

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Tara, I totally agree, which I know sounds weird given what I posted above. I agree that kids are individuals, and should be treated as such. My oldest dd is the least musically inclined of all my kids. She learned a bit of recorder growing up, we listened to oodles of classical music, and she appreciates music, but I have never made her take lessons of any kind. She's my engineer :o). She is now 19.5, a sophmore in college, and has been teaching herself piano on the fly for a couple years. For fun. Middle dd, more musical, but didn't take lessons of any kind till she begged for violin lessons around age 12 or so. I let her start lessons at age 13, and she is amazingly good now at age 17.5. She also sings in 2 different choirs, and does musical theater. She would have quit a few times if I'd let her, but she needs a bit of a push sometimes so she can see that she really is good at stuff, so I've made her stick with it. She'll be 18 soon, so I realize that won't last forever, but at least she is at the point that she can play in a decent orchestra, or at church if she ever wants to do that. No regrets. ds 14, whom I referenced above was obviously musically gifted from day 1 almost. And loved buttons to push. He just gravitated to keyboards like a little magnet, and could play stuff by ear really early. Gifted and lazy...thats him. In most areas of life. He needs to learn to persevere, as a character issue. Music is so much a part of who he is fundamentally, there is no way he's quitting before getting to advanced level. At that point, he will have earned the freedom to do whatever he wants with his music. We talk a lot about how free he is to play by ear and have fun on the piano because of how much work he's put into it practicing. So even though I'm an E person, I try to make sure things are a good match.

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My dd was naturally musical and learned piano easily and still plays- for fun and relaxation, not exams.

My ds did not seem naturally musical although he did love to sing which is a good sign. WHen I had him start piano lessons though it was just too hard for him- he has learning issues, probably dyslexia, and even age 9 was too young. Fortunately the piano teacher we were using suggested that her mother was a retired recorder teacher who had a knack for relating well to boys. We gave it a try and whammo, ds's gift for music was discovered. He never really learned to name notes or anything, but he can read music and play beautifully. He learned for 5 years, did extremely well...then just didnt want to do it any more. Didnt want the pressure to practice etc. He and dd did both pick up and do some guitar as well, which they may go back to later.

 

I worked really hard...I wanted them to both have an instrument since i did. I know it is a beautiful thing to have in life. But you can only do what you can do and I never wanted them to hate it. I have never made dd practice. She just does because she wants to. I did make ds practice but he was motivated anyway. He just needed help to structure himself.

But once he decided to stop, that was it. After 5 very good years, I wasnt going to "force" him to continue. Its enough of a foundation that he can come back to it if he wants to.

 

YOu cant ensure your kids are musical or will want to play an instrument their whole childhood- you can give them an opportunity, though. I think as a parent we have to watch that our own agendas dont get in the way of what our kids are here for- they have their own gifts. We can only try. But if their gifts are in other areas....we need to also be able to let go. There is only so much time and energy.

 

I really like SWB's approach in TWTM. Give your child 2 years of piano lessons as a part of their classical education. If they want to continue, great. If they don't- it is enough. I like that.

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My kids started the piano at 6. One hated it and refused to practice. He gave up complaining about the piano for Lent that year and discovered that he loved playing. Go figure. Eventually, my boys became less interested in playing. At the same time, our piano teacher had several back surgeries and we had to find a new teacher. The new teacher is so fantastic that my kids all love playing again. I never have to tell them to practice - mostly I tell them to stop playing while someone else is trying to do spanish on the computer. So, my experience has been that a good teacher will make playing fun.

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I think it depends on what your parenting style is. If having your dc learn a musical instrument is important to you, then to my way of thinking it's just like anything else you believe they should do (manners/behavior, schoolwork, chores etc.) and is insisted upon in the same way.

:iagree:We are unschoolers but we are both musicians so DD plays violin and piano (both at her own request) and practices everyday because it's just what you do in this house. We don't push it, we don't need to the expectation is clear and she wouldn't have started if she didn't plan to continue.

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