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Posts Tagged ‘music education’

ParentSquare should have a MusicParent badge for parents who pay for and get kids to music lessons and make sure they practice. 

Over 13 years, my kids have had varied music experiences – Suzuki violin, piano, Kindermusik, choirs, percussion, handbells, traditional violin, and guitar. Some music experiences cost more than others.  We paid for most, with some scholarships or help from family. My daughter paid her own tuition for a children’s choir for two years.

How can you expose kids to music on a budget?

  1. Library programs: my kids went through a brief Kindermusik intro once. One local library offers low-cost recorder lessons.
  2. Church programs: look at after school programs and camps. My kids did vocal and sign language choirs plus group percussion and piano classes in them.
  3. Free concerts: Colleges, churches, and libraries may host free concerts. For younger kids, look for outdoor concerts where you can sit near the back. Every 3 years, one local church does an Amahl and the Night Visitors performance. I included it in a music unit to introduce my kids to opera.
  4. Library music collections: Don’t limit yourself to Mozart. Do a Peter and the Wolf adventure. Get some scarfs or streamers and encourage them to “dance” to the music.
  5. Sing: Kids love to hear their parents sing. Encourage them to sing with you.
  6. Share the music you love: My taste runs to Vivaldi, while my husband’s veers to Stevie Ray Vaughn. Let them see what music moves your soul. 
  7. Get the rhythm: Suzuki begins with rhythm awareness. Listen for rhythm patterns and help your young kids learn to repeat them. My son blew taca taca stop stop bubble rhythms in his chocolate milk before he was 2 – listening to his older sister’s music lessons.
  8. Perform with other kids: music is not a solo act. It’s meant to be shared. When your kids perform music with other kids, they learn lessons: following direction from a leader, listening to others around them, maintaining poise when circumstances change, and also developing skill in phrasing, dynamics, and expression. Those skills apply to public speaking, interpersonal communication, and life in general.
  9. Lessons. If you can afford it, private lessons are great. Get the best teacher you can afford – if not professional, what about a high school student?

You can find ways to help your kids discover their own music passions, regardless of your budget.

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Small children’s violins should come with a surgeon general’s advisory: Flat violin notes cause toe curling, hair loss, early onset arthritis from cringing and upset stomachs for parents of children who play them.

When my preschoolers were in violin, I was the Pitch Nazi who insisted they hit notes neither sharp nor flat, but on pitch because the alternative made me physically ill. Their pitch might not be perfect, but it didn’t need to be mortally wrong.

Perfect pitch – the ability to hit a note correctly without a cue. Traditional American thought is you’re born with perfect pitch, or you’re not. Japanese thought, however, is perfect pitch can be trained. The older I get, the more I agree with the Japanese.

When I play the perfect pitch game, I’m often 2 steps flat – maybe my childhood piano was flat.  After 13 years as a music mom as my kids have sung and played guitar, piano, handbells, percussion, and violin, I win the pitch game more often than I used to.

Isn’t life a lot like perfect pitch? Some assume those with wonderful lives were born to them or got lucky. Others believe with hard work, we can make our lives better.

Let’s assume perfect pitch – and a better life – are trainable. What can improve your ability to hit the notes right? As a former Suzuki mom, these are the steps I’ve seen to develop perfect pitch:

  1. Repetition – Repeat basic building blocks often, no matter how advanced you get.
  2. Focus – When practicing, don’t get distracted. If you get distracted, refocus yourself.
  3. Smaller chunks – if a building block is too difficult, make smaller chunks of it that you can handle.
  4. Expand your repertoire – After mastery of building blocks, always seek to develop your talent.
  5. Share your talent with the world – Play in public with others. When you play music with other people, you must listen not only to yourself but the world.

Perfect pitch will get new tech twists in the future.  When my daughter takes her violin to play in public, she uses the G-Strings app on my phone to ensure she’s tuned. 

Though we may never have truly perfect pitch, we can develop the talents we do have and make them better.

With great love, anyone can learn new things.

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