Children who study music from a young age are poised to gain many benefits from the experience, including better language development, improved spatial-temporal skills, and higher test scores. If your child expresses an interest in music, you can help him or her develop a stronger curiosity and love for the subject using these helpful tips:
1. Expose your child to music from a young age.
By making music part of daily life, parents can significantly influence their child’s ability to appreciate all that music has to offer. Playing music for children in the car, singing with them, and giving them the opportunity to watch musical television shows are all excellent ways to introduce music in a fun and stimulating way. Parents can also make early music discovery an adventure by working with their children to create musical instruments from ordinary household items like pots, pans, pans, and spoons, or by going to the library to check out CDs with kid-friendly songs.
2. Make instruments readily available at home.
Kids may also become excited about pursuing music if they are free to explore a variety of instruments in their home. Therefore, parents should leave an instrument, like a guitar or drum, on display where their child can easily pick it up. A piano can be especially beneficial for early music exposure at home, as children can generally begin to experiment with the instrument once they are physically big enough to reach the keys and develop the hand dexterity to push them down.
3. Look into private music lessons.
If a child shows a specific interest in music, his or her parents should consider enlisting the help of a professional to foster that passion. While a teacher’s qualifications are important, his or her ability to interact positively with a child on a personal level is vital. To find a music teacher who specializes in instructing kids, parents should consider soliciting recommendations, holding interviews, and attending recitals held by prospective teachers to determine whether or not the instructor will be a good fit for their son or daughter.
4. Give your child a special practice space.
Children who commit to an instrument may be more motivated to practice if they have a designated space in which to do so. Ideally, the practice space should be situated in a quiet, organized area where siblings, television, and other distractions cannot intrude. It is also a good idea to equip the practice space with pencils, music stands, paper, and other tools that young music students might need.
5. Incorporate practice into your child’s daily routine.
To encourage musical development, parents should make practice part of their child’s daily schedule. Parents can make this time more appealing by scheduling pleasurable activities around the practice session. For example, kids could enjoy snack time before practice and play time afterwards.
6. Be supportive under all circumstances.
Parents should always visibly support their child’s efforts regardless of his or her level of musical ability. For example, if a child wants to showcase a newly developed talent or practice a song, parents need to devote their attention to the performance and make honest, encouraging remarks. It can also be helpful for parents to regularly ask about how their children’s lessons are progressing and check in with them at regular intervals about their interest in music.
Additionally, when a young music student reaches a milestone such as memorizing a new song or performing in a recital, parents should find a way to celebrate their child’s accomplishment. Doing so may help children stay motivated to continue their studies when the lessons become challenging.
7. Don’t try to control your child’s musical progress.
Parents who see true musical potential in their children may be tempted to force them to practice longer hours or study an instrument that doesn’t interest them. However, experts suggest that it is better in the long term to let a child’s talents develop naturally, and most recommend that parents support their child’s decision if he or she wishes to switch instruments or focus on an activity outside of music. Creating an understanding environment where a child feels comfortable pursuing his or her own individual interests is ultimately better for the child’s healthy development.
The guitar is among the most widely-played instruments in the Western world. Since it first gained popularity with the advent of rock and roll in the middle of the 20th century, countless aspiring musicians have sought out the guitar as a means of artistic expression.
Those who are ready to make a serious commitment to this six-string instrument may consider buying a guitar of their own for the first time. Listed below are four common mistakes everyone should avoid when buying their first guitar.
Buying a guitar that’s too cheap
If you’re serious about learning to play, you should set aside at least $200 to buy your first guitar. No matter which style of guitar you’re looking to pick up, an investment of at least $200 will generally provide you with an instrument that has a respectable sound and a playability conducive to new learners. Making room in your budget for this minimum expenditure is much more likely to help you obtain a guitar that is fun to practice on, has a good tone, and doesn’t go out of tune too quickly.
On the other hand, as a new player, you should be wary of buying an expensive guitar until you’re truly committed to learning how to play. At a certain point, a guitar’s quality will not make you sound any better, unless you have achieved a certain level of skill. Spending an exorbitant amount of money on a first guitar is therefore usually unnecessary.
Buying a guitar with the wrong sound
Though some music professionals argue that new players should hone their early skills on an acoustic guitar, others suggest that this can be demotivating for some people. The first guitar that you buy should be one that’s suited to playing the style of music you’re most interested in. Those who want to play old school country or folk music may find that the acoustic guitar works out best. If you’re particularly interested in learning to play rock, pop, or heavy metal, an electric guitar might be the better choice. And if you’re more committed to learning jazz or the blues, you may get more enjoyment out of a hollow body or semi-hollow body guitar.
No matter what version of the instrument you settle on as a new guitarist, you should make the decision based on your own interests. If the sound coming from the instrument doesn’t move you, you likely be less motivated to continue practicing.
Buying your first guitar secondhand
As stated before, making a minimum investment to obtain a quality guitar makes a big difference when it comes to playability, and therefore can have a significant impact on whether you’ll continue to practice the instrument over the long term. One of the best ways to get more value for your money is to purchase a guitar secondhand, but some professionals advise inexperienced players to avoid this. Used guitars can be damaged in subtle ways that are difficult to detect and make the instrument unpleasant for novice musicians to play. Worn-down frets, buzzing strings, high action, cracks, and bent necks can all go unnoticed by the untrained eye, and all have the potential to make the instrument challenging to practice on and therefore less enjoyable.
If you feel compelled to purchase your first guitar secondhand, make sure to bring along an experienced guitarist who can assess the quality of the instrument before you purchase it.
Buying a guitar without the necessary equipment
There is a list of supplies that you’ll need to buy along with the instrument. First, plan to buy a physical tuner, rather than relying on a smartphone app to help you tune your guitar. While apps are helpful in a pinch, physical tuners are more accurate and will make a guitar sound much better. Buying several guitar picks can also be useful for new musicians during practice.
Another non-negotiable item that all new players need to buy is a case for their instrument. A good case offers protection that will help keep your guitar in good condition when you’re transporting it from location to location. A case also provides a safe place to store the guitar at home when you’re not using it.
When you’re shopping for your first guitar, ask for professional advice from the salespersons at the store. Many associates at guitar and music shops are trained to help customers find the instrument that best suits their level of ability, and they’re usually happy to give advice on the right equipment to purchase along with a new guitar.
The question of why music was first invented has yet to be answered, but its effect on the development of human culture cannot be denied. Music helps us communicate, provides an opportunity for creative expression, and has the ability to bring large groups of people together, regardless of their differences. Listed below are six inventions that changed music throughout history and shaped the art form that we know today.
1. The prehistoric flute
First on the list are the prehistoric flutes discovered only five years ago in a cave located in southern Germany. These instruments, carved from mammoth ivory and bird bone, are estimated to be over 40,000 years old, making them the oldest instruments ever found. Open at both ends, the flutes feature finger holes that would have allowed an early human to produce musical notes.
This instrument is important for its likely use as an early form of recreation and entertainment, or as a part of religious ceremonies, as well as the possibility that it helped advance the social bonds of early humans. Thousands of years later, yet still far in our past, humankind would develop primitive instruments such as rattles, scrapers, and bull-roarers before creating the more refined and complicated instruments we know today.
2. The octave scale and notation
Though many ancient civilizations developed their own musical scales, the ancient Greek thinker Pythagoras was the first to develop a near-perfect, mathematically-based scale that consisted of tones and “hemitones”—what we know today as an octave scale. Though it isn’t clear who first added to this early musical theory to develop an initial form of musical notation, this achievement is also often credited to the Greeks. They would influence 6th century philosopher Boethius to develop the letter system of notation using the letters A through G that we are familiar with today. Together, these inventions enabled humans to record and distribute compositions, allowing original compositions and musicianship to spread farther than it ever had before.
3. The piano
The invention of the piano was a vital development in the history of music, as it gave composers of the time the ability to work within a range of notes much more vast and complex than those provided by the harpsichord, the piano’s predecessor. This keyed instrument allowed musicians to play in accompaniment with other instruments or to perform solo pieces, and became a central part of entertainment both in the home and the public sphere in the Western world in the 18th and 19th centuries. Though it is not the primary form of entertainment that it once was, the piano and keyboard continue to be some of the most popular instruments for people to learn to play.
4. The metronome
Though small in size, the metronome has a significant impact on a musician’s ability to play in time with a song. Musical performances require a musician to interpret notes, play with emotional focus, and keep time all at once. A metronome allows individual players as well as composers directing a group to stay on beat and thus deliver a measured, impactful performance. Early experiments with metronomes were first conducted in the late 17th century, but the tool was not employed by any of the iconic classical composers until Beethoven. The metronome is still used today by amateur musicians as well as in major recording studios to help music professionals create the perfect sound.
5. The microphone
Humans had been working toward voice amplification since the days of the ancient Greeks and Romans, but a workable version of the microphone did not appear until the late 19th century. Its effect on the history of music was significant because it allowed people to hear music not only louder, but with a greater degree of detail than ever before. Its central use in musical recording had a direct effect on the eventual ability of people to listen to music anytime, anywhere.
Prior to the invention of the microphone, people needed to see music performed live in order to enjoy it. Additionally, the use of the microphone in concert venues allowed small groups of musicians to put on a show of a size and volume that before was only attainable by large orchestras on naturally amplified stages. In modern music, microphones allow musicians to create complex works of art full of nuance to deliver a more powerful performance to their listeners.
6. The electric guitar
The most recent invention to make this list is the electric guitar, which changed the direction that modern music took by providing players with an energetic, exciting new sound. The electric guitar was invented in 1931 and came accompanied by an external speaker that received the vibrational input from a pickup inside the guitar, turning the vibrations from the strings into the characteristic sound we all know today. Jazz and blues players of the mid-20th century first adopted the instrument, ushering in a new era for both genres.
In the 1950s, the fledgling rock and roll scene would adopt the electric models developed by Gibson and Fender to create a new genre of music that set the stage for popular music today. It became the trademark instrument for a long list of guitar legends, including Stevie Ray Vaughan, Jimmy Hendrix, Jimmy Page, and Eric Clapton. The electric guitar continues to be a favorite among youth in Western culture and remains central to the creation of popular music.
While the full impact of music on the human brain is not fully understood, recent research indicates that children who study music experience substantial benefits in mental, cognitive, social, and academic capacity, as compared with students who do not receive musical instruction. If you have children who want to become involved in extracurricular activities, here are five important reasons why you should encourage them to study music and play an instrument.
1. Playing an instrument may reduce stress levels
Although stress is often considered to be an adult’s domain, research suggests that children today are experiencing more stress at an earlier age. Common sources of stress include a high degree of pressure to perform well academically, a need to adapt to new social situations among peers, and overly packed schedules that do not allow children time to play, express creativity, or relax. Overly stressed children can experience immediate physical symptoms such as headaches, sleep disturbances, and an upset stomach, along with more long-lasting effects such as changes in brain development that impact reasoning, emotional control, and problem-solving abilities.
For some children, playing an instrument can lead to reduced stress levels. Studies show that playing music lowers blood pressure, heart rate, and the level of cortisol in the brains of musicians. Researchers note that playing an instrument contributes to stress relief only if it is played for recreational purposes, rather than with an intense focus on the mastery of a new piece. To achieve optimal relaxation, students should focus on playing by ear for fun and do so for at least an hour each week.
2. Exposure to a variety of music can broaden a child’s cultural understanding
Teaching children about the value of diversity among people from different countries and cultural backgrounds can enable them to positively interact with others as they explore the world. Learning about the values and cultures of those who are different from oneself also helps children to connect and develop social behaviors rooted in feelings of curiosity rather than fear, which can broaden a child’s mind and lead to a well-rounded view of the world and a healthy respect for others.
Studying music is a fun and efficient way to teach children about diversity because it is a universal language. Exposure to music from other cultures teaches children that no matter how different people seem to be from one another, they can both create and celebrate with their own types of music. While songs may differ or be characterized by different languages, studying music from other cultures helps children to understand that we all have the ability to listen to, appreciate, and dance to music in any form.
3. Learning to play an instrument can build confidence
Self-confidence is loosely defined as the knowledge of one’s true value, a feeling which generates positivity, determination, and resilience in the face of life’s challenges. Building confidence in children often leads to better social experiences, an enhanced ability to handle peer pressure, and a more controlled approach to dealing with positive and negative emotions.
Encouraging the study of music is an enjoyable and beneficial way for parents to help children develop a healthy degree of self-confidence. A young musician who learns to play an instrument may start out slowly, but recognizing incremental progress can foster personal satisfaction and a sense of fulfillment that helps children to develop a belief in their abilities. The act of first setting and then achieving musical goals, such as mastering a song, allows young musicians to recognize that hard work and discipline lead to improved performance, even for those who are inexperienced or unsure of themselves.
4. Musicianship helps young students develop socially
Child development and psychology professionals are quick to point out the importance of friendship in a child’s life. Building camaraderie and positive interaction with peers teach valuable life skills that are important into adulthood, such as fairness, compromise, cooperation, sharing, and conflict management. A child who possesses these skills may display higher levels of social competence and ultimately receive peer support, which plays an important role in the healthy development of children and adolescents.
Moreover, children who play with music as part of a group have many opportunities to develop socially and to form lasting friendships. Playing an instrument or singing in an ensemble teaches young students how to work together as a unit in order to create music and to develop valuable personal skills such as patience, cooperation, and leadership. Playing an instrument as part of a group also offers children with at least one shared interest. Research suggests that one of the strongest bonds between friends is shared interests. Thus, a child who plays an instrument in an ensemble will be more likely to find likeminded friends.
5. Playing an instrument sets children up for a brighter future
Overall, practicing a musical instrument yields mental, social, and cognitive benefits that set children up for success in the future. The study of music has been shown to boost academic scores in areas such as math and literacy, to improve language development, and to foster strong creative abilities. Young musicians have more refined motor skills at a younger age and learn to positively express themselves in a way that leads to better mental health.
More than anything else, children who learn to play instruments gain these wonderful benefits while having fun at the same time. Playing music is a useful skill that can inspire in children a level of passion and a joy for the arts that lasts a lifetime.
While the most popular musical instrument to play changes each year, certain instruments remain perennial favorites among music students of all ages in the United States. Aspiring music students can learn more about the history and technical aspects of the three most beloved instruments in the following.
The guitar has established itself as one of the most widely played instruments in modern-day America, and its influence can be seen in a diverse range of musical genres. A versatile instrument, the guitar offers many style of play, ranging from rock and roll and country music to classical and jazz.
Historians believe that the earliest ancestor of the guitar first appeared in Spain in the early 1500s, although the modern version familiar to us today did not appear until the late 1800s. The early “guitarra latina,” as it was called, had a waist that was much less pronounced than today’s guitar and a much narrower body with a deeper sound made by plucking four courses of strings tuned to C, F, A, and D. By the end of the 1700s, the guitar had six single strings tuned to E, A, D, B, G, and E, which is today’s standard.
Guitars are made in both acoustic and electric varieties, each with its own set of subtypes. The most common four types of guitars are the nylon string and steel string acoustics, the hollow body, and the solid body electric. The nylon string guitar is almost singularly used to perform classical and flamenco pieces, while the invention of the steel string acoustic gave rise to the less technical, but more nuanced play patterns employed by artists in musical genres such as jazz and the blues. The creation of the hollow body electric had a particularly significant impact on jazz guitarists, who used the instrument’s amplified volume to make themselves better heard among the many other instruments at play in jazz ensembles. When the solid body electric guitar was invented, musicians were able to create the signature sound that characterizes rock music. The solid body electric guitar is the most popular form of the instrument among young musicians today.
The piano is a foundational instrument that professionals say children can begin to learn before the age of 6, provided that they have finger dexterity and their hands are sufficiently large enough. Around 21 million Americans play the piano, and its versatility allows it to assume the lead or fade into the background of songs that span a wide range of musical genres.
Some may be surprised to learn that the piano is a string instrument. The strings are encased within the instrument’s body and resonate when struck by hammers connected to the movement of the keys. As a result, it is also considered a keyboard instrument and was preceded by the invention of the clavichord in the 1300s, followed by the harpsichord in the early 1500s. The first true piano was invented by Italian harpsichord producer Bartolomeo di Francesco Cristofori in 1698, and it subsequently shaped much of the writing and playing styles of composers in 18th century Europe. Although some adjustments have been made since Cristofori’s early invention, such as increased string tension that significantly improved the instrument’s dynamic range, the modern piano is strikingly similar to those played in the 1700s.
The piano exists in three primary styles: upright and grand, which are acoustic, and digital pianos, which are electric. The upright piano has shorter, vertical strings compared with the grand piano, which has long, horizontal strings. The hammers in an upright piano are reset using spring-based mechanisms, whereas the hammers on a grand piano are reset by gravity, which makes each piano’s keys feel different to the touch when played.
Drums are among the world’s oldest instruments, and they continue to draw the interest of musicians of all ages. The drums play a crucial supporting role in the sound of any band and are even used as a therapeutic tool to foster positive social and emotional development in children with disabilities.
The earliest discovered drums date back thousands of years BC. The drums were fashioned from objects such as tree trunks, gourds, or shells covered with a thin membrane comprised of reptile or fish skin, and were played with the hands. Later versions of the drum contained membranes made from the skin of mammals and were played using sticks. Along with its recreational value, drums also provided early populations in Sri Lanka and some African countries with a means of communicating over a distance as early as 1000 to 500 BC. The first snare drum was developed in the mid-17th century, and by the early 19th century drums were incorporated into orchestral compositions. By the 1930s, the world was familiar with the four-piece drum kit that set the stage for many starter drum sets that new musicians are familiar with today.
While there are numerous types of drums that vary in popularity from one country to another, the one most commonly used in the United States is the drum kit, which in its most basic form consists of a snare drum, bass drum, several tom-toms, and a collection of cymbals. Although cymbals vary based on a drummer’s needs, a kit typically has a single cymbal along with a hi-hat, which is comprised of two cymbals connected by a foot pedal that allows the cymbals to crash together and come apart in time with the beat of a song.
Science shows that people of all ages can experience significant benefits from the study of and exposure to music. This is especially true in the case of children, whose development can be positively influenced by the presence of music in their lives throughout each of the following stages of childhood.
Exposing a child to music in his or her infancy is an excellent way to lay the groundwork for musical development and appreciation later in life. Babies develop the ability to hear before they are even born, and the sense fully matures by the time they are one month old. This makes it easy for babies to respond to music from a very early age.
The infant brain has a predisposition toward learning music in a way similar to its inclination toward learning language. Singing to babies or rocking them gently to soft songs can nurture strong musical neural pathways that lead them to engage enthusiastically with songs as they grow. A baby who is familiar with music may also begin to vocally experiment with melodies the way that many babies experiment with speech—through babbling and producing their own sounds. Studies have shown that parents who rhythmically rock babies in time to music may help their children develop stronger cognitive skills, as the ability to recognize and predict rhythmic patterns in music can also affect a baby’s ability to recognize patterns and rhythm in speech.
For toddlers, music is an excellent way to help them learn and boost memory. Songs can help children accomplish learning feats such as remembering the alphabet, and can even be used to help them learn to master new skills, like how to tie their shoes.
Though each child is different, most experts agree it is best to wait until a child is around the age of five to begin taking formal music lessons. Though some children express interest in experimenting with instruments earlier, five-year-olds are generally better equipped to pay attention to a lesson and understand that they will not be able to immediately play music. Waiting until the child is older also reduces the risk that he or she will become bored and frustrated, and therefore turned off to musicianship altogether.
As children reach school age, those who practice music develop a wide range of valuable abilities and skills. Different studies of musicianship in children have noted that practicing an instrument may increase their capacity for creativity, improve spatial intelligence, expand mathematics skills, improve language comprehension, and strengthens various areas of the brain.
One study published by the Journal of Neuroscience indicates that young musicians develop stronger neural connections between the left and right hemispheres of the brain, which ultimately results in these children displaying faster cognitive abilities than those of their peers. Another study conducted by Brown University showed that practicing an instrument increases the production of grey matter in the brain, leading to neural connections that fostered better skills in spelling, reading comprehension, and motor skills. Practicing an instrument in childhood may also improve a child’s ability to organize and problem-solve.
By the time a child reaches the “tween” years (between the ages of eight and 12), they may have the opportunity to participate in a school band. For many children, this age will be the first time they have the chance to practice an instrument, and the positive developmental effects continue to benefit kids at this stage of life. Like younger children, older children who practice music often do better in subjects like math and reading. In addition, making a commitment to play an instrument at this age requires ample practice, which teaches older children about the value of discipline and self-control. A child who practices regularly can apply this self-regulatory strength to other areas of academics, such as completing homework assignments.
There is also a social benefit to playing music as an older child. Playing an instrument in the school band or orchestra can help children understand the importance of patience and teamwork. Learning to work together and take turns during practice sessions can help kids at this age learn about the value of collaboration and what they can accomplish as part of a team. Participation in these groups also gives older children the opportunity to feel as though they are part of a larger community, which can be important in a phase of development when they begin to undergo emotional and social changes.
It’s common knowledge that music plays a significant role in the lives of teenagers, and a study from 2015 showed that children in this age group listen to an average of four hours of music every day. Music not only serves as an emotional outlet for teens and a way to express their personal identities, but it also has a social element as well. Music allows teenagers to bond with friends and form meaningful relationships with others in a way that is important for personal development.
Beyond listening to music, teenagers who practice an instrument continue to reap cognitive benefits that mirror those experienced by younger children. Scientific evidence confirms that practicing a musical instrument during the teenage years continues to boost brain development, leading to positive effects like stronger literacy skills. Positive effects outside of the brain include the fact that students who belong to high school band or orchestra groups are less likely to develop lifelong problems with alcohol, tobacco, and drugs. Teens who are musicians have also been noted to be less likely to display disciplinary problems and have higher grade point averages than their peers who did not play an instrument.
Studies have shown that children who pursue music education gain a multitude of benefits, including larger vocabularies, better study skills, and even a lower risk of substance abuse. Additionally, studying music early in life can influence brain development and improve a child’s capacity for memory. In order to help a young student take advantage of these and other benefits, parents should keep the following tips in mind when helping their child decide which instrument they should play.
1. Consider the child’s age.
There is a debate over when children should begin attending music lessons for the first time. While some experts suggest that children can begin music instruction at an age as young as three, others suggest waiting until the child is at least four or five years old to start. Signing a young child up for music lessons too early can result in frustration and boredom that prevents them from enjoying the process of developing their talent, leading them to ultimately reject music lessons throughout childhood. With that established, there are certain musical instruments that younger children will find easier to learn to play.
Piano is an excellent instrument for early learners, as young children can begin to practice as soon as they are physically capable of reaching the keys and have the hand strength required to push them down. Simpler instruments like the recorder are also a good option in the early years. A child can begin to practice the recorder as soon as their fingers can cover the instrument’s holes, and this can establish a path to playing other wind instruments like the clarinet, flute, or bassoon at an older age. Violin may also be an acceptable option for children around the age of five, as the instrument can be purchased in small sizes designed to fit small hands. Larger stringed instruments such as the cello or bass are better left to older children who are physically better equipped to play them.
As a child reaches the age of eight, more options become possible. At this age, fractional size guitars become easier for a child to learn, as well as small woodwind instruments like the flute and clarinet. These instruments are easier for a child to play when he or she has the physical ability to support them and play at the same time. By the age of 10, it is generally fine for a child to start lessons on any instrument, including larger, more difficult choices like the saxophone, trombone, or cello. Some woodwind instruments are better left to children whose front adult teeth have stabilized, as playing with gaps where teeth have yet to grow can cause difficulty.
2. Consider the child’s personality.
The child’s personality should play a significant role in the instrument that he or she chooses to play. Certain instruments lend themselves more toward energetic, extroverted children, while others are better suited for those who are quiet and introverted. For example, the flute may be a more fitting instrument for children who have no qualms about being center stage. Flutists are generally positioned toward the front of a band, and a child who plays the flute must be comfortable with being stationed in front of others during performances. Other instruments like saxophone and trumpet are lead instruments frequently featured in solos and melody lines, which may be a better fit for outgoing children who are comfortable in the spotlight.
Children who exhibit introverted, quieter personalities may enjoy learning to play the piano, an instrument they can practice independently and use to provide melodic background support to others or continue to perform solo. Children who are on the shy or quiet side may also enjoy stringed instruments like the violin, viola, and cello, which give them the opportunity to contribute to a musical number as a part of a group, rather than bringing singular attention to themselves during a performance. Children who are extremely independent and technical may enjoy an instrument like guitar, while children with hyperactive or restless qualities may find an outlet in drums and percussion instruments.
3. Consider the child’s personal preference.
Ultimately, if a child shows a passion for or an interest in a specific instrument, that should be the instrument that he or she pursues. Children who are allowed to practice an instrument that they have chosen for themselves will be more likely to commit to the practice it takes to become proficient. In addition, they will be less likely to quit when practicing music becomes complicated or frustrating. Parents who choose instruments for their children to play without the child’s input may be disappointed when their child becomes frustrated and gives up the instrument entirely later on.
If a child does not show interest in any particular instrument, parents should consider letting him or her try out a variety of instruments before settling on one. After all, children will benefit from the pursuit of music no matter which instrument they decide to practice. In addition, parents must be prepared to actively support their children’s musical endeavors, attend concerts, and provide them with the tools they need to foster a positive relationship with music that carries over into their adult lives.
If you’re looking for a fun activity to do with your child that will further his or her love of music, you should consider watching a documentary about music together. There are plenty of films out there that explore a variety of music-related topics, including the history of music, the lives of various musicians, and the effects that music has on our brains.
To get the most out of the documentary you choose, be sure to take the opportunity to discuss it afterwards with your child. Did your child find any scene particularly memorable? Were any parts of the film confusing or surprising?
The following are a few of the best music documentaries that families can enjoy together:
The Beatles: Eight Days a Week – The Touring Years
Directed by multiple-award-winner Ron Howard, The Beatles: Eight Days a Week - The Touring Years chronicles the four legendary band members from 1963 to 1966 through a series of stories, exclusive interviews, and concert footage. The film describes how the fabulous four created their music and how the group coped with their unprecedented rise to fame.
Actual concert footage gives viewers a behind-the-scenes look at some of the group’s most iconic moments. For example, at the very first Beatles concert held in the United States, the band had to perform a 12-song set for about 8,000 fans while standing in a boxing ring. Because the group was positioned in the center of the stadium, the Fab Four had to stop every few songs and rotate themselves and their mics and amps 90 degrees so that everyone in the audience could see them.
The documentary was originally released in theaters and made available for streaming on Hulu in September 2016, a few weeks after the 50th anniversary of Beatles’ last concert, which took place at Candlestick Park in San Francisco. In November 2016, The Beatles: Eight Days a Week - The Touring Years won a Critics Choice Documentary Award for best music documentary.
How Music Works
A four-episode documentary that aired in the UK in 2006, How Music Works explores how every song shares a few common elements: melody, rhythm, harmony, and bass. The episodes are essentially a series of music lessons backed by easy-to-understand explanations. This documentary is a must-watch for those who enjoy listening to music but don’t know much about it.
As composer Howard Goodall explains each component, he provides precise detail on the role scales and tempo play in the musical process. To help viewers better hear the connection between each song, Goodall quickly switches from one genre to another. One of the best things about this documentary is that it flattens out the music hierarchy, reminding people that no particular form is superior to another.
The Music Instinct: Science and Song
Exploring the psychological, emotional, and biological impact of music, The Music Instinct: Science and Song examines how and why music stirs our emotions and details the proven healing power of music. The two-hour documentary, which premiered in 2009, takes viewers on an educational journey that shows exactly how the brain processes sounds and the ways that music is distinct from any other type of sound.
According to the film, a wide variety of factors, including our memories, determine how we interpret music we hear. This explains why listening to a certain song can stir up powerful emotions or elicit thoughts of good or bad times.
The Music Instinct: Science and Song also features renowned musicians such as jazz legend Bobby McFerrin and accomplished cellist Yo-Yo Ma, who provide insight into how music has particularly affected them. During filming, McFerrin teams up with the World Singers in order to demonstrate how tempo, pitch, and melody trigger a variety of brain responses. Yo-Yo Ma plays educates viewers on how musicians use intervals to create harmonies.
Written and directed by award-winning filmmaker Elena Mannes and narrated by Audra MacDonald, The Music Instinct: Science and Song is available on pbs.org, Amazon.com, and YouTube.
These are just a few of many interesting documentaries about music, but there are countless other options available for you and your family to watch. DocumentaryTube.com is a great resource for finding free and engaging music documentaries online. Resources like this can be invaluable for music enthusiasts, as well as for teachers and students of music.
Media sources, such as radio, TV, and the Internet, are gaining a stronger foothold in all of our lives. In fact, teens today spend about two and a half hours each day listening to music on their laptops, smartphones, and tablets. With unlimited access to billions of songs, young people can easily stumble upon new artists and styles of music, some of which you may not think are appropriate for your child’s age or level of emotional development. For example, 1 in 3 popular songs now contain references to using drugs or alcohol. Violent and sexually explicit lyrics are another huge problem.
There is so much in our children’s environment that we can’t control. However, by laying a little groundwork, we can exert some influence our children’s musical tastes. Read on for tips on how to have a say, even if it’s just a small one, in what music you children listen to.
Focus on Variety
One way to help your child develop a deep appreciation for all styles of music is to expose them to different genres as early as possible. For very young children, you should choose songs that feature prominent instruments, such as piano and guitar. To encourage your children to immerse themselves in the musical experience rather than just listen to the songs and sing along with them, you should purchase inexpensive replica instruments that they can “play” as an accompaniment the recording.
Having a diverse musical library that includes everything from classical to rock and roll will inevitably lead your child to be curious about other musical genres. A large collection also allows children to challenge themselves musically and teaches them to pick out various rhythms, keys, and tones within songs from an early age.
Don’t forget to show your kids how music affects you. When an oldie-but-goodie comes on the radio, don’t be shy—go ahead and belt it out. Your kids may not ever really like Pink Floyd, but they will come to realize that all types of music can bring people joy.
Talk to Your Child
Communication is an important part of influencing what your child listens to. Start by initiating a conversation with your child allowing him or her to explain to you why he or she listens to his or her favorite music. It's important to let your child know that not only are you looking out for his or her best interests, but you also value his or her opinion.
When having this discussion, avoid negativity and outright criticism of your child’s music, even if deep down you disapprove. If the lyrical content of the songs is a point of contention for you, try to focus on the parts of the music that you can appreciate. For example, if the music itself stirs certain emotions in your child or encourages him or her to become more physically active because of the song’s upbeat tempo, be sure to let your child know this. Unfortunately, the more you voice your disapproval of your child’s music, the more he or she will likely gravitate towards it.
By remaining objective and actively listening, you can show your child that you are truly hearing him or her with regard to his or her musical tastes. You may still wish to censor what your child listens to, but he or she will be more inclined to follow your rules than rebel if you approach the situation with an open mind.
Closely Monitor Your Child
Although many music educators do not believe in the concept of “too much music,” it is still up to parents to decide what their children may listen to. For younger children, it can be easier to purchase all of their music for them and carefully control what they have access to, but monitoring the listening habits of older children and teens can be a little more complicated.
Some parents may find it necessary to sit nearby, giving their input on which songs are acceptable and which ones they consider inappropriate as their child makes musical selections for his or her MP3 player. Doing this can encourage the child to make positive choices while remaining aware that a parent is monitoring him or her.
Giving your child a little bit of freedom to select his or her own music will ultimately help you and your child develop a rapport while giving him or her a sense of independence. It's important that parents keep in mind that occasionally listening to hip-hop or rock music has not been shown to have any significant impact on your child's long term development. Simply listening to a few songs will not usually turn into an obsession with a particular genre; therefore, it is important that you aren’t overly strict regarding your child’s musical selections.
Children who choose to play an instrument are often limited to the piano or violin. Once children get close to high school, then joining a marching band may seem more appealing. While performing in a marching may appear to be fun and easy, there are a variety of different aspects that go into these performances. Participating in a marching band is not necessarily the easiest musical activity to embark upon. Students are often required to perform outdoors in inclement weather conditions, all while wearing heavy uniforms and carrying even heavier instruments. Band members are expected to be able to do all of these things and to still play at a high level. Find out about all the ins and outs of joining a marching band and how to encourage your child once he or she becomes part of the team.
Practice Schedules and Time Management
One of the most crucial aspects of participating in a marching band is finding time to practice and to manage your time effectively. Band members are expected to balance their academic requirements and complete their homework on time, which can be a challenge when you’re trying to squeeze in time for band practice. Interestingly, marching bands are one of the few extracurricular activities that is undertaken almost year-round, and in many cases, practices even occur over summer break. Members of the marching band are around each other for a great deal of time, helping to foster strong bonds among the band.
In general, children who desire to join a marching band have been shown to be high achievers and are usually well behaved in the classroom. Ensuring that these children are around other like-minded individuals can have a positive effect, and it has been shown that relationships with one’s peers can have a significant impact on how students view their overall high school experience. Rehearsals for marching band routines are typically long and conducted outdoors, regardless of the weather. Practicing under these grueling conditions requires strong mental fortitude and a solid work ethic.
Building Teamwork Skills
Marching band stands apart in the world of high school activities because it brings together students from various classes and age groups. From freshmen to seniors, the marching band offers students the opportunity to network with those who not are not necessarily in their graduating class. Joining a marching band can be a great way to make new friends, and some schools even allow incoming students to join a summer program prior to their freshman year, which will provide them with instant friendships once the school year actually begins.
Marching band routines are often choreographed, and students have to learn to work closely with one another and exhibit a true team mentality in order to pull off a successful performance. Teamwork skills can help prepare students to join college marching bands, where routines are often televised, and any discord is quickly noticed by fans. Scouts are often on the lookout for the best and brightest individuals to join some of the country's most prestigious marching bands, so it is always important for all members to work together to produce the best performance possible.
Working with Band Directors
During a marching band performance, most of the focus is on the musicians, but the team cannot accomplish anything without the help of a strong band director. Similar to an orchestra conductor, marching band directors are responsible for organizing the performances and making the entire production appear effortless.
While they often don’t receive credit, band directors play a central role in the success of a band. The reason why many great marching band directors are generally not seen is that they understand that in a team environment, when one individual succeeds, the entire team succeeds.
Opportunity for Exercise
In addition to all of the social and time management skills required to participate in a marching band, it is also a great form of exercise, even for those who don't necessarily enjoy it. Being part of a marching band requires a great deal of movement—often in hot weather—which will inevitably burn a lot of calories. Sedentary children will have a chance to engage in much-needed physical activity and develop stamina. Even those students who start out slow will soon be able to keep up with their band mates.
Students who participate on a marching band use several different muscle groups, which can help them to become stronger overall and perform better in other extracurricular activities. Marching bands can also help students develop proper breathing technique, as breath control is essential to play instruments while engaging in rigorous physical activity. One survey even indicated that marching band performers move about 180 steps per minute on average while playing instruments that can weigh upwards of 40 pounds.
Marching band practice is certainly rigorous and not for the faint of heart. However, despite the long practice hours, exposure to the elements, and the physical requirements of being in a marching band, many members generally would not trade the experience for anything else.