In the modern day competitive world, it is a dream of every parent to see their child shine and succeed in some field apart from academics. This is evident from the fact that today’s parents are on the look out for schools which provide the right blend of both curricular and extra-curricular activities. In other words, it an era of growing need for a holistic education.
As soon as a child develops a certain degree of speech and motor skills, the very next desire of every parent is to get the child introduced to the arts field, especially to that of music and dance. This is the point where umpteen number of questions pop into our mind and we become anxious. We start wondering as to which would be the best suited arts for them to start with, considering their passion as well as their future; How to find out which one of the several things they show interest in, is their real passion; What would be the right time to start imparting the formal lessons on the same; What would be the things to consider while selecting a training center and so on.
This article is to help you exactly with that. Obviously, every parent feels a strong need that their kids must be provided the opportunities which they had been deprived off for some reason. That’s why, I have tried to cover as much details as possible regarding what are all the things that you would need to know in order to assure yourself that you have dealt with the anxiety of providing the right exposure to your kid in every possible way.
Positives and negatives of starting early
Many people assume that an early exposure to music or any art would facilitate fast learning and hence do the mistake of pushing their child to get formal lessons right from an early stage, without even making it sure whether the child is ready for it. As you are all well aware, any kind of sustained exposure to something can influence the brain to a large extent, especially during the early stages of development of a child. This means that if we provide an enjoyable environment to a child, the brain reacts positively and on the other hand, a forced environment could cause stress hormones which obstructs a developing brain. This is why it is extremely important to ascertain if a child really enjoys learning a particular art.
According to a study from the Concordia University and the Montreal Neurological Institute, it has been suggested that early music lessons could have significant benefits to the overall development of the child. This study has researched and found out that the brain scans of musicians who had started their training on a musical instrument before the age of seven, exhibited stronger connections between motor regions, that is the regions of the brain which helps in coordinating the movements of the limbs, as compared to those who started later on, despite having the same levels of musical training and experience. The study also suggested that these early birds also had better accuracy and precision.
Not only this, but many researches have also proved that learning music significantly helps in improving the concentration and focus of the kids, in turn helping to improve in academics and other areas too. Due to the unique and positive integration between the body and mind while learning arts, the kids also perform better in reading, writing and Math. You might have often noticed that children are able to recollect faster and better when information is imparted through music. This is why many things are taught to young children through rhymes.
Having understood the positives of learning music, it is equally important to understand the other side of it too. The only thing that could be counter-productive in making a child to learn a particular art is to force him/her to learn it if they are no more interested in learning it. If a child is forced to learn something before they are ready for it, then they are going to have a very bitter experience from it and it could only give an equally negative result.
Hence, it is very vital to determine what suits a child and when they are ready to take up a formal training on the subject.
How to know if they are ready
There are three very important things to keep in mind in order to determine if your child is ready to get trained formally in a particular art:
1. They must express interest and inclination to learn. Every child is ready to try out on their own when something new catches their eye. This does not mean they are really passionate about it or that they will have the sustained interest in it. As parents, you know your child best and so you will be automatically be able to identify and tell which is the art your child is keen to learn more about.
2. They should have developed adequate fine motor skills to learn the art. If they are pushed into formal training before they are physically ready for it, they might not be able to cope up with the other students in the class and this might wrongly lead them to believe that they are not good enough to learn it. Hence it involves a big risk of the child getting frustrated and losing interest in an art which would have otherwise helped him/her to shine.
3. Parents should have the zeal and commitment to keep up continuity and daily practice. As we know that parents are the first role model of every child, it is from the parents through whom the child learns to stay focused and committed to the task that they take up. So, please consider your schedules and inclination to give the amount of time required to take the child to the class, know about his/her progress and give the daily practice at home. It is important to note here that the younger the child, the more will be the amount of energy and time needed to be given. Otherwise, it is just waste of your precious time, effort and money if continuity is not going to be taken care of.
How to find out their interest and inclination towards music
Now comes the million dollar question – How to identify if they are really inclined to learn it or is it just a passing cloud? Well, here are certain parameters which would be of great help for you to identify and conclude for sure if they are really having the interest and inclination towards it. Do you find them often trying to sing along with the songs played in Tvs/DVDs/music concerts? Do they exhibit sharper and quicker identification of tunes or songs as compared to other kids of the same age? Do they automatically try to invest their time singing or playing an instrument during their playtime? Are they able to remember and recollect songs that they heard quite sometime back? Are they able to identify different pitches and follow them while singing along? These are some of the questions which would help you to identify if they are seriously interested in learning music.
What is the age to start formal training
As mentioned earlier, some children are naturally talented and so they are competent enough to learn right from a very early stage. On the other hand, some are really interested and passionate about it, but they need to develop certain skills before they become competent enough. But generally speaking, it is a good idea to wait until your child turns at least 3 to 4 years. This is because most of the children have the patience to sit in a place and give their attention for a considerable period of time only after this age.
Things to keep in mind while starting with formal training
Once you have ascertained the art in which your child is really interested, the next thing would be to analyse in detail about the class which would suit your child best.
- In case of a musical instrument, the very first thing for you to decide is the instrument of your child’s choice. Apart from the choice of instrument, the right age to start learning, the personality of your child, the type of music your child enjoys, the size and portability of the instrument and the cost involved are some of the important factors to consider while deciding the right musical instrument for your child.
- The next step is to decide the right teacher or trainer. When it comes to kids learning music, it is essential for a good music teacher to be not only knowledgeable, but child-friendly too. The teacher should be able to make the classes more fun and enjoyable besides imparting music lessons. The initial lessons and basics of music is important and tough to learn and hence children might feel bored if the teacher is too serious and monotonous. It is a good idea to teach something interesting apart from the basic theories of music. For instance, in case of a musical instrument, they can also teach how to play a rhyme or a cine song. Like wise, in the case of vocal, they can teach small devotional songs or some may even take a break in between to say some good moral stories. Some anxious parents might feel that such practices are adopted by the teacher just to while away time, but it is a wrong assumption unless the teacher is giving undue time to such things. It is only sensible to be patient with the kids and give them their time to grasp and learn the concepts of music along with having fun. At this stage, the focus should be on developing the interest to learn rather than actual learning of the concepts. Hence, please choose a teacher who can provide a conducive environment to learn alongside imparting knowledge. Do try to collect some genuine reviews either through your personal contacts or from reviews posted on authentic websites before deciding on a trainer.
- Before you take the final call for enrolling your child in a class, you might also need to consider factors like timings of the class, whether the timings will clash with the timings of other classes which your child might be attending, how far is the class from your home, how easily commutable it is, and what is the fees to be paid.
How to nurture your child’s interest
- Just like how charity begins at home, music too begins at home. You really don’t need to wait until you start with the formal training, but instill the interest to learn music or musical instruments way before that. Make sure you play lot of music to your child and even dance to the tunes together with them.
- Also see to it that their toys collection will comprise of toys pertaining to music such as keyboard, flute, mouth organs, drums, shakers, tambourines and so on.
- Take them to a lot of live music concerts for sharpen those listening ears. But also be ready to search for the exit doors as soon as you are done with listening to a play or two! We really can’t expect them to pay more attention at this tender age.
- It is also a good idea to play online videos according to the age and preference of your child. online sources ensure easy accessibility and are of great help to develop learning of rhythm and concepts right from an early stage.
- Last but not the least, for a little grown up kids, they can also enroll themselves with genuine websites which give information about music such as our own website www.tunestreasure.com where you can find rich sources of authentic online materials pertaining to music.