This page is intended to give you as a parent motivation and resources so you may best support your musical child. Learning a musical instrument is a uniquely challenging endeavor which will stretch you and your child to new limits. Ultimately, it’s important to keep in mind why studying music is so important and continue to be encouraging at all times. Positively rewarding consistent practice habits and progress are key elements behind success in music and in life.
Here are a couple of links to get you started:
As always, feel free to e-mail me anytime.
Whether you are a new band parent or a seasoned one, your child’s musical journey is a beautiful thing which will challenge and delight you and your child in ways you never imagined before. Inevitably, students go through phases in their journey. For the times when you and/or your child are going through a difficult phase together, I have researched some famous performers and professors to give you some advice on how to support your musical child:
Some Advice from Robert Cutietta (USC)
Music lessons and your child
Create the proper environment at home for your music student. “Musical children are not born — they are raised,” says Robert Cutietta, author of Raising Musical Kids and professor of music education at the University of Southern California. It all begins by creating a “musical environment” at home. He suggests exposing children from an early age to different kinds of music, and getting them to focus by asking age-appropriate questions, such as “What does that sound like to you? Does it sound like a bird, a tree swaying in the wind?” If you play a musical instrument yourself, let your child see you playing and express your love for music. “Kids see what parents value,” says Cutietta. “If music is a part of your life and you value it, they will see that.”
Prepare in advance for the end of the honeymoon period
For most children who start playing an instrument, there’s a honeymoon period when they are excited and anxious to play at every opportunity. “Parents are often tricked into thinking their child loves the instrument,” notes Cutietta, “but actually it’s just a new toy to them. From the beginning, parents need to prepare for the time when their child is no longer in love with the instrument. They should not take the child’s interest for granted. They should set realistic goals, which should not be time-goals like ‘practice for a half-hour each day’ but rather music goals like ‘play four measures of this piece.'” If you wait to put goals in place as your child starts to lose interest, it may be too late.
To avoid nagging, set a regular practice time
Cutietta also suggests having a set time for practice each day to avoid arguing with your child who might say, “I don’t feel like it now; I’ll do it later.” If your child knows that at 4 p.m. everyday he is supposed to practice, there will be less need to nag. “It’s also OK to acknowledge that practice is not always a lot of fun,” says Cutietta. “Music is not all fun. It’s hard work and there’s nothing wrong with that.”
Don’t rely on the spring concert as an incentive
Cutietta doesn’t advise reminding your child about the spring concert as a way to keep him engaged. “That could be light-years away, as far as your child is concerned,” he says. “It’s much better to have more immediate, easy-to-achieve performance goals.” He suggests organizing a mini-recital where your child can perform in front of a few family members and friends. This can be easy to arrange and becomes both a goal and a reward.
Tage Larsen, Trumpet Player with the Chicago Symphony: Some Do’s & Don’t’s
Do be involved – Parents are, without a doubt, the biggest facilitators of learning. As any teacher well knows, without parents, even our best efforts have very little impact.If you are serious about your child learning music we highly recommend you get involved. The first year is when they need you the most. In almost every case where a child excels at music there is a very supportive parent behind the scenes.
Do encourage your child to play and perform – Music is a performing art. Additionally, performance gives your child self-confidence and applause or appreciation reinforces their desire to play.
Do listen to music with your child and discuss it – Learning an instrument is not the fun part – playing it is. Listen to great performances so your child can see what the end goal is and understand why he/she is learning music.
Do create a learning environment – Don’t have the TV or any other distraction on in the background when your child is practicing
Don’t nag your child to practice, especially in the very beginning – Instead, establish a routine. For example, ask your child to practice for 15 min before dinner every day. Fifteen minutes everyday is more beneficial than an hour once a week. At the beginning, don’t allow your child to decide his own playing schedule. Usually, this results in no practice at all. Over time children will make practice a habit and will want to sit down and play without your guidance.
Don’t compare your child’s progress, or level of achievement, with that of other children – All children develop at different rates
Don’t force your children to play publicly – they may not relish playing to family and friends at all times. Use subtle nudges and be willing to drop the subject if you face significant resistance.
Jennifer Gunn, Flute Player with the Chicago Symphony: More Help for Parents
My child wants to switch instruments. Is this possible?
It is best that students stay on the instrument they chose during instrument appointments. Usually the reason students want to switch is because the believe they have already learned how to play that instrument and now want to try a new one. While that may work for video games, learning a musical instrument is a life-long process – and one never truly masters their instrument.
My child wants to quit band. Why? and What should I do?
The idea that a student wants to quit band is a common occurrence when learning a musical instrument. Learning to play a musical instrument is a challenge, and with every challenge comes success and failure. As the famous quote goes, “the road to the next level is always uphill.” When students understand and attack the challenge, rather than recoil from it, they begin to understand the learning process. Once this occurs, they will find that success and progress on their instruments is addicting and they will not want to quit. The best thing you can do is establish with your child a commitment to at least 2 years of musical study and continue to be encouraging/ involved. Remind them of how far they have come and be sure to praise progress regularly. Patience is the key to parenting a musical child, but if you are in it for the long game, they will be.
What should a parent do when interest is seemingly lost?
1.Encourage, encourage, encourage them to keep trying.
2.Have them play music that is fun and enjoyable for them to play (Disney music or fun folk songs)
3.Remind them of how much they enjoyed band when they were first learning and that it was a challenge, but they overcame it and had success.
Should I upgrade my child`s instrument?
All students (except for french horns) learn on a beginner level instrument. Moving to a better quality instrument usually will result in the student being able to play with better tone and more in tune. Other benefits are: faster key and valve action, additional keys or valves which allow the student access to higher or lower notes. I am always happy to help with this process. Please let me know if you are considering an upgraded instrument and I can assist with brands and models of instruments that will be of value. A word of caution – what looks like a great bargain may not be one. The old expression is very true – YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR.
How You Fit In
Always keep in mind that your support is a key element in your child`s success with music study. Music achievement requires effort over an extended period of time. You can help your child by:
* Providing a quiet place in which to practice
* Remaining nearby during practice times as often as possible
* Scheduling a consistent, daily time for practice
* Praising your child`s efforts and achievements
What To Do
To give your child the best possible support, you should:
* Encourage your child to play for family and friends.
* Offer compliments and encourage regularly.
* Expose your child to a wide variety of music, including concerts and recitals.
* Encourage your child to talk with you about his or her lesson.
* Make sure your child`s instrument is always in good working order.
* Allow your child to play many types of music, not just study pieces.
* Listen to your child practice, acknowledge improvement.
* Help your child build a personal music library.
* Try to get your child to make a minimum two-year commitment to his or her music studies.
What Not To Do
Your child`s progress will be greatly enhanced if you:
Don`t use practice as a punishment
Don`t insist your child play for others when they don`t want to.
Don`t ridicule or make fun of mistakes or less-than-perfect playing.
Don`t apologize to others for your child`s weak performance.
Don`t start your child on an instrument that is in poor condition.
Don`t expect rapid progress and development in the beginning.
If your child loses interest
In the event your child loses interest in his or her music studies, don`t panic.
Discuss the situation with your child to determine why their interest is declining.Talk to your child`s music teacher to see what might be done to rekindle their enthusiasm.
Encourage your child to stick with lessons for an agreed to period of time.
Offer increased enthusiasm.
STARTING AND PLAYING AN INSTRUMENT
1. Beginning instrumental students need encouragement. Help them succeed by
- finding a place in the house that can be their “practice area”
- well lit
- free from noise and distraction (as much as possible)
- Understanding that they must practice every day
- Know that sometimes they must practice loud in order to develop their tone.
- Understand that they are attempting to master an adult skill
- These instruments are not toys. They are very fragile – precision instruments
- Do not allow other people to handle the instrument
- I will teach the students the proper care and maintenance of the instrument
- Encourage them to play for you and relatives once they learn some songs.
4. Sit down with them at least once a week and help them practice. Have them show you what they are
doing. Help them count. If you don`t know, ask your child to explain it to you.
5. Band meets EVERY DAY! Students should ALWAYS have their instrument at school.
6. Make every effort to keep the instrument in good working condition. Nothing is more frustrating than
trying to play an instrument that does not work properly.
7. Every instrument has periods in the learning process that will be difficult. Encourage them to “persevere.” Please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you need any help..
8. Woodwind instruments will need a good supply of reeds (except flute). Brasses will need slide oil and valve oil. Music stands are necessary for home practice. Metronomes, polishing cloths, CDs of the instrument, are great holiday gift ideas.
9. Please consider taking a few lessons on the instrument yourself, it will give you better insight into what your student is going through, and it may be fun for your child as well as yourself. Duets, trios, get the whole family involved!
10. As teachers, we try to set the students up for success. We want them to succeed. Let us know what we can do to help!
Some Private Instructors
Private instruction is not a requirement to be part of the band program, but it is highly encouraged and will yield incredible results. Students with private instruction will often be more engaged and active in their learning, learn faster and be more capable/ willing to understand and appreciate musical concepts on a deeper level. The following is a list of some private instructors you may consider:
Sarah Jordan: (209) 981-4303 Neil Stanley: (209) 981-4303
Barbara Maters: (209) 466-8962 Elizabeth Sanders: (209) 951-5116
Neil Stanley: (209) 981-4303 Jerry Schwartz: (209) 948-5583
Cathy Ettle: (209) 466-1823 Jeremy White: (209) 679-3459
French Horn Trombone/ Euphonium
Paul Kimball: (209) 474-2262 Chris Anderson: (209) 951-6405
Ruth Brittin: (209) 951-5998
Percussion Jason Ryan: (209) 481-6011
Robert Brown: (209) 981-4303
David Tanner: (209) 401-1662