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Learning With Your Child

Why you should learn with your child

Don’t worry, I’m not suggesting you pick up an instrument and learn with your child (although that would be a great idea!).  I simply mean there are several reasons to take an interest in the instrument your child selects and learn a few characteristics.  It is easy to do and doesn’t take a lot of time.  It will also be fun for you AND your child!

Accountability for practice time

I don’t know about you, but it is a lot easier for me to just nod and say “okay” when someone begins to elaborate or explain a subject I am absolutely unfamiliar with.  The same can go for your child’s practice time.  If you know the basics of the instrument they play and what they are supposed to be working on, it will be a lot easier for you to keep them on track and more difficult for them to brush off practice time which would cause their grade to suffer.

Deeper enjoyment

There is something satisfying about being able to teach your parents something!  As a beginner, a LOT of information is being thrown in your direction.  Think of all you had to learn in kindergarten – tying your shoes, the alphabet, counting, writing…the list goes on!  Beginning band/orchestra is very similar.  You have to learn to recognize notes, read the music, how the notes on the page correlate to how you hold your instrument (because each one is a bit different), etc.  Your child will go from barely remembering the name of the instrument they selected to playing songs on stage in a few short months!  You will be able to recognize the hard work they put into it and all of the practice time you had to listen to will be worth it.

Shows you care

The easiest way to show you care about something is to take an interest in it – even if the interest isn’t at the level of the person you care about.  When you care, your student will work harder because they know you’re watching.  The best way to learn is to teach, so if your child is coming home and teaching you what they learned in band, then their retention will improve.  When music becomes part of their life, they are more likely to stay.

What you should try to learn

Of course this is just a list of a few things to learn, take it with a grain of salt!

  • What instrument your child plays
    • As silly as it sounds, this is a big confusion for a lot of parents!  The instruments have unfamiliar names and it becomes more of a chore when your child plays more than one!
  • The aspect they enjoy the most
    • Ask your student what their favorite part of being in a music program is and then have them tell you about it
  • What is most challenging
    • Great opportunity for encouragement, especially when you notice them practicing what is difficult for them.  Make sure they work on what doesn’t come easy and praise them for it.
  • Have them play their favorite piece
    • With every concert, musicians (even adults!) will have a piece that they like above the rest.  See what piece that is for your child and let them play it for you!

Just some ideas…

Of course, these are just some ideas from an outsider.  You know your child better than I do; I just speak as someone who went through a school music program.  One of my fondest memories is from my college recital.  My mom drove almost 2 hours to come and watch me play.  She helped me get ready and sat right at the front with her iPad, snapping photos furiously.  The majority of the pictures were out of focus, but the fact that she cared so much about what I was doing and so proud of me is what mattered.