Seem frivolous? Intimidating? The benefits outweigh the expense and awkwardness.
It's been proven that:
1. Music lessons lower stress and make you smarter.
2. Learning to play an instrument comes with a built-in community.Continue reading
Seem frivolous? Intimidating? The benefits outweigh the expense and awkwardness.
It's been proven that:
1. Music lessons lower stress and make you smarter.
2. Learning to play an instrument comes with a built-in community.Continue reading
It is the beginning of the school year, and just like every other school year, we get several phone calls a week asking the same question, “WE really want our child to play a musical instrument, but WE don’t know which one!”
Francois Breton was a violin maker who did most of his work between 1778-1830 in Mirecourt, France. He was the personal luthier to the Duchesse d’Angouleme. He was a very prolific make and was imitated by many others. His style was quite refined, generally a little over-sized, with flat arch and clear yellow varnish. Thousands of factory made instruments were produced in his style after his death. Breton also made good cellos and bows. He would often put a brand on the back button and occasionally inscribe on the pegbox “F. Breton.” His printed label would read F Breton, Musicarius, Mitecurti, anno 1805, F Breton brevete Luthier de S.A.R., Mme, la Duchesse d’Angouleme. Breton died in 1830. Link to web page: Breton
Here's a link to the sound bite: Breton SoundContinue reading
Four generations of Gregory Walker’s family have been scholars and musicians. So perhaps it was destiny – but probably more so an abundance of talent – that he has become a critically acclaimed violinist and award-winning composer as well as a professor at the University of Colorado Denver.
“I don’t think I really got to choose a career … I didn’t really think in terms of having a choice,” Walker says. His father, George T. Walker, is a composer and pianist and the first African-American to win the Pulitzer Prize in music. George Walker also taught at CU-Boulder. Gregory’s mother, Helen Walker-Hill, is a pianist and music historian, holds a degree from CU and also was a faculty member. Gregory’s grandfather, George Siemens, taught genetics at CU Denver.
Even before he finished his doctoral work at CU in 1992, a family friend – Associate Professor Emeritus Donna Bogard – encouraged Gregory to apply for a teaching position at the university: “Way back in 1991, the music faculty here knew they wanted somebody comfortable with rock music, but really didn’t know where to start. Lucky me.”
Walker has been a soloist with orchestras and symphonies around the world and composed numerous pieces, including those for electric instruments. He has produced CDs for several record labels and performed with a diverse group of artists, from pop star Lyle Lovett to violinist Itzhak Perlman to pop and jazz trumpeter Doc Severinsen.
He says music (to the occasional impatience of his wife, Lori, and sons Grayson and Dashiel) doesn’t go away when he gets home from “work,” but he finds time to participate in the traditional Chinese martial arts and to write. His novel, “Trigram Cluster Funk,” will be published by Double Dragon Press in October.
1. Your CD, “Electric Vivaldi: Global Solstice,” will be released in September. How did this collection come about and why is it special to you?
One of the reasons I enjoy working with my College of Arts and Media colleagues is that their mission of creating an intersection of art, technology and commerce resembles my own passion. That maybe doesn’t have so much to do with commerce as it does with extending new artistic expression to a wider audience, which just happens to include that commercial population. I think I’d be happy pursuing any number of creative directions, but about 10 years ago, I was listening to an obscure European orchestra’s colorful approach to the popular Vivaldi Four Seasons violin concerti. Suddenly realizing that it might be possible to not only take the orchestra’s ideas even further, but also create an accessible version of the music for contemporary audiences with electronic sounds, I launched into a yearlong process of pulling together financial and artistic support for a first “Newport Classic Electric Vivaldi Four Seasons” compact disc. When it was released, I knew there were possibilities that still hadn’t been fully explored, but my creative attention span is much too short to continue mining the same vein for very long. Consequently, this latest Centaur Records “Electric Vivaldi: Global Solstice” adds elements of world music and a new instrument that was a big part of my youth, the electric guitar.
2. Tell me about the instruments you play and your compositions.
At one time or another, as an orchestral soloist I’ve been engaged to play a variety of different kinds of violins, guitars and electronic paraphernalia. For other types of engagements, I may resort to other instruments, usually ones with strings. Even the instruments I love the most don’t necessarily come easy, but I’ve always been motivated by untapped potential, theirs and mine. And I do admire anyone who can play the piano.
I’ve written dozens of songs for local progressive rock bands and electronic dance music producers, as well as a similar number of large-scale symphonic, chamber and electronic works that have been premiered around the United States and abroad. Then there are the recordings and music videos that I contribute to as engineer, director, editor, art director, you name it. This summer, there’s even been an invitation to show off mellow stylings I did not know I had with Swing Je T’aime, an up-and-coming gypsy jazz band.
3. Why did you choose to compose for and perform with orchestras? What are the actions you take when you compose?
I grew up in a family of classical musicians. Music wasn’t entertainment, wasn’t a job, just a way of life. The symphony orchestra was considered the ultimate medium. In some ways, the orchestra is the closest music can get to the diversity of the natural universe. On the other hand, it also embodies culture’s regimented, domesticated mass obedience. The soloist is a defiant point of light.
When the time comes to actually write for the thing, I go to the instrument for which I have no aptitude, the piano. Every little idea emerges clumsily over weeks because my fingers can’t move any faster. So slowly, many ideas are just lost mid-stream, but we can hope that if they were forgotten, they were forgettable. Eventually, imagination and the wonders of computer software allow me to add additional dimensions. And when the world premiere finally arrives, it’s over in minutes … maybe leaving an impression there was something behind the notes.
4. What are some of your favorite stage performances? What made them special?
There are two aspects of musical performance that are especially poignant for me, but they’re easy to miss.
The first is the sensation of audience connection, real or perceived. Some years ago, I was hired as a violin concertmaster for a small orchestra performing Handel’s “Messiah” at a church in Boulder. At one point, a profoundly bitter and inebriated homeless man walked in the door and loudly proceeded to the front of the audience. We all just tried to concentrate and ignore him. When we got to the famous “Hallelujah Chorus,” the audience joined in singing along with the orchestra’s choir. After the last chord and before the next aria, the homeless man stood up and walked toward me. I saw him out of the corner of my eye, reached over the edge of the stage, and we shook hands.
The second aspect is personal challenge and visceral risk. In 2009, the Philadelphia Orchestra engaged me to premiere a violin concerto by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer George Walker, my father, with a $4.5 million dollar Stradivarius in a performance that was broadcast nationwide on National Public Radio. This would seem like an enviable, dossier-enhancing activity for anyone who has not suffered from lifelong stage fright.
My father’s music carries a unique meaning for me not only because it’s cool to play your dad’s music, but because I believe he’s an unsung musical genius for the ages.
5. What is your teaching philosophy and what do you hope students take away from your classes?
Compared to my diverse and accomplished colleagues at the College of Arts and Media, I’m not much of a teacher, per se. I try to be a kind of interpretive artist in the classroom. The value of a music curriculum, of all things, can be just like the proverbial tree falling in the forest with no one there to hear it – unless I can interpret the curriculum’s significance and bring them around. Going to where those who share this world – the students – are, and coming to a mutual understanding so they can actually be inspired to accompany me. Because the only thing they’ll ever bother to take away is what became significant.Continue reading
From Psychology Today online
There is mounting evidence that music training benefits skills and areas that are non-musical in nature. Musicians tend to score higher on verbal and math tests. There are differences in the motor and sensory processing areas of a musician's brain. Musicians also have greater aural acuity, meaning they can more accurately process pitch. Plus the earlier you start in your music training, the greater the benefits.
Intuitively none of this is surprising given the overlapping skills involved in certain musical and non-musical tasks (e.g. you use your fine motor skills when learning the piano and when typing on a computer), and the concept of use-dependent development. This concept refers to the role experiences have in helping to sculpt the developing brain. The areas and networks that activated more frequently (i.e., those that are used more often) are larger and more robust than those not activated as frequently.
These, though, are the extrinsic benefits of being an active learner of music. Extrinsic referring to, of course, those non-musical perks of being a musician. And although there is value to the extrinsic benefits—including some important enrichment-based opportunities for children with access to fewer resources—it begs the question…what about the intrinsic benefits?
The intrinsic benefits are a little harder to define (at least for this musician). But they are there. These are the benefits that are more self-gratifying. They are generally emotionally- or psychologically-based. And although there may be some commonalities among musicians in the intrinsic benefits they feel, it’s generally a more personal, individualized experience. The intrinsic benefits felt by one musician may not be the same as those felt by another.
As for this musician, here are 5 intrinsic benefits I have gained:
#1: Immense Emotional Pleasure
As with most people, listening to music elicits a variety of emotions—happiness, tenderness, sadness, nostalgia. Know what’s better than listening to beautiful music? Playing it. It doesn’t matter whether it’s felt while playing piano alone in my house or from performing in front of a crowd, the happiness—elation even—that follows playing a beautiful piece of music is almost addictive.
#2: An Insta-Social Network
I’ve often felt that being a music major in college helped ease any anxiety I may have felt during this major life change. It didn’t matter that I now lived 1500 miles away from home, being in the marching band gave me an instant social network that began before school even started. And I’ve carried that benefit to multiple schools and internships in multiple states—a connection to a group of people with similar interests and experiences as me.
There are times that the music I am listening to causes me to laugh. It’s generally not the words that elicits this reaction, but some a little less tangible—it’s how the composer structured the music or the musical nuance a performer added that causes the chuckle. Better yet, I've found that this happens more frequently the more experienced I become as a musician. I laugh more at—and with—the music.
#4: Challenging Growth
Being a musician makes you work. You work your fine and gross motor skills, you work your analytical skills, you work to be emotional and to connect with an audience. You persist and practice over and over again. You perform and make mistakes, then go back to the practice room. It challenges multiple intellectual and emotional areas, but if you love learning like me—that challenge is priceless.
#5: Gratifying Accomplishment
The other side of the challenge coin is the gratifying feeling you get when you finally make it. When you have a great music therapy session. When you nail a particular piece of music. That feeling may not last long—you may be back at that practice room the next morning—but it’s yours to carry and hold.
NPR's Cory Turner writes:
I went to Los Angeles to report a story on brain science. A new study had just been released, exploring how music instruction helps kids process language. The children the researchers studied were all participants in a community music program run by the nonprofit Harmony Project.
But after an hour talking with passionate staffers at the group's office in Hollywood — and then recording an hour of music lessons there — I knew I had a compelling second story, that of Harmony Project and the woman who created it.
“You teach music because the lessons that you learn serve you in your life and make you live a better, more functional life the same way the lessons you learn in math help you live a better, more functional life."
The group provides instruments (trombones, trumpets, oboes, flutes, strings, drums, you name it) and free lessons to kids in many of LA's toughest neighborhoods. It also sends teachers into the schools for onsite after-school lessons twice a week. Throw in a rehearsal each Saturday, and you have a program that gives much and asks much in return — which is one reason its students keep signing up.
And then there's Margaret Martin, who founded Harmony Project in 2001 after a tumultuous early life. At 17, she gave birth to her first child; she later spent a year homeless on the streets of Los Angeles while parenting two kids. A survivor of domestic violence, Martin eventually earned a doctorate in public health from UCLA.
Here are selected excerpts from our conversation, on the beginnings of Harmony Project and why it matters.
Why did you found Harmony Project?
I was inspired. A group of hardcore Los Angeles gang members walked through a farmers market on a Sunday morning: teardrop tattoos, oversized clothing, attitude. They stopped to listen to a little kid playing Brahms on a tiny violin. After five or six minutes without saying a word to one another, I watched those gang members pull out their own money and lay it gently in the child's case. [Turns out that "little kid" was Martin's son Max.]
Amir Pinkney-Jengkens, 8, is learning trombone through Harmony Project, a nonprofit that provides musical instruments and instruction to children in low-income communities. Recent research suggests that such musical education may help improve kids' ability to process speech. I was at UCLA at the time finishing a doctorate in public health focused on what it takes to make a healthy community, and those gang members taught me that they would rather be doing what that child was doing than what they were doing. But they never had the chance. So I dove into the research literature and discovered that music learning was linked to improvements in language, cognition, music, brain development and behavior.
How would you describe the neighborhoods where Harmony Project is working?
They are the highest crime neighborhoods in Los Angeles. [The city] designate[s] gang-reduction zones for rates of violent gang crime that are at least 400 percent greater than anywhere else in the city. Something you don't always hear about: These are also the neighborhoods with the highest fertility rates, so they have also got the highest number of little kids and really nothing much for the kids to do after school hours. ...
With public schools across the country cutting music instruction to save money, the Harmony Project in Los Angeles is trying to make up the difference.
So I founded Harmony Project to help keep disadvantaged kids safe, in school and out of trouble. It was basically a public health approach. If they were in music classes or rehearsals or practicing their instruments at home, it would reduce their exposure to negative influences in their environment and it would increase their exposure to the positive influences of music teachers and conductors.
One thing we know for sure, and that is that if we want to get serious about closing the achievement gap for disadvantaged kids, we should provide five days a week of music instruction in every Title 1 inner-city school in the country, from K through grade five. If you do that, you could save a whole lot of money on remediation, and you'd save a whole lot more money on juvenile incarceration because ... we don't have behavior problems with our students. They learn how to work together from an early age, and those are lessons that they never lose.
And yet you and I both know that music programs are the first thing on the chopping block in district after district these days.
It's been going on for decades like that. You know, we talk about, "Oh, music programs are getting chopped," but it's been a death by a thousand cuts, because you used to have five-day-a-week programs. Kids could really thrive that way. And then you said, "Well, you know, why don't we just give them one lesson a week?" So then you had the music specialist go around to three or four schools.
When my son was in public elementary school there was a music teacher trying to teach six instruments to 40 kids one hour a week. And kids think that they couldn't learn; what they don't realize is that they were in a program where nobody could learn. It was sort of designed to fail, so it's just not fair.
“We need these things. We need to learn how to be precise, how to listen carefully, how to collaborate closely, how to express ourselves whether we're in the depths of despair or whether we feel joyful.
I was speaking to one curriculum specialist at a school district. She said, "Oh, all of our kids get music. The second-graders get music for eight weeks. The third-graders get music for eight weeks. The fourth-graders get music for eight weeks. The fifth-graders and so forth."
I mean, that would be like saying, "Oh, everyone gets math. The second-graders get math for eight weeks. The third-graders get math for eight weeks. The fourth-graders get math for eight weeks." And, like math, you don't teach music in order to make musicians, and you don't teach math in order to make mathematicians.
You teach music because the lessons that you learn serve you in your life and make you live a better, more functional life the same way the lessons you learn in math help you live a better, more functional life.
I mean, we need these things. We need to learn how to be precise, how to listen carefully, how to collaborate closely, how to express ourselves whether we're in the depths of despair or whether we feel joyful. ...
It's ... music, it's an authentic good. So, for all of those policy wonks out there who think music is just some enrichment tool, I'm sorry. Music is now permanently off the shelf with the warm fuzzies, and it's on the shelf with the rigorous, scientifically proven, evidence-based interventions that close the achievement gap for poor kids.
What do you see among the kids who either seek you out or that Harmony Project finds: Are these overachievers, or are they truly a cross-section of every neighborhood in which you work?
Let me tell you this. So, a dad walks up to me after a recital. And he says, "I didn't know what to do. I was losing my son. He was going with the wrong crowd. And then Harmony Project showed up. For the last three years he's been playing with a Harmony Project orchestra. He's a smiling, responsible kid." Tears filled that dad's eyes, and he said, "Thank you for my son."
Over and over, I'll have a student say, "You know, Harmony Project has really helped me. I have friends that are into a lot of bad stuff, and they say, 'Come with us.' And I say, 'I have to go to rehearsal.' " And then they say, "So it really helps me."
It gives them something else to do, something else that they're about. Something that's about achievement. They set different goals. They actually say, "I'm thinking about possibilities I never would have imagined."Continue reading
The ability to play a musical instrument is a wonderful thing, and you can never start too early. Children are curious and imaginative by nature, and many will be able to pick up music very quickly, and develop a love for it. The ability to play an instrument and read music will be infinitely helpful later in your child's life, and studies have shown that music can help make a child smarter, develop giftedness, more mature, and more confident. If they're not yet out of elementary school, a good musical background will help them to succeed in middle and high school bands, setting an example for all of their peers.
Step 1: Set an example and motivate your child
If you have any musical talent, play your instrument in front of your child, and answer their curious questions. Let them experiment with it (within reason really young children probably shouldn't be messing with your oboe, especially unsupervised). Talk about your days in school band, how much fun you had back when you took piano lessons, and other things that will pique their interest. Take note if they show a particular interest in a certain instrument.
Step 2: Expose your child to music
Start early - when your child is very young, play quiet music for them and let them fall asleep to CDs of classical music. Once they're older, take them to school and professional concerts, and point out certain instruments. You can also listen to music or watch videos of concerts together. Try to teach them to "feel" the music, and take note of the many things going on at once. Get into the habit of playing classical music in the background when you read, sew, or do something else relaxing. Try to teach them to "feel" the music, and take note of the many things going on at once.
Step 3: Talk to them about music lessons
Forcing your child to learn an instrument, or signing them up for lessons without telling them first, is not going to help foster the love and commitment to music that you want your child to develop. If you had any success with the previous step, they'll probably be eager to start. Ask if there's a particular instrument that they'd like to learn. They may want to try the same instrument you play, or they may say "I don't know", in which case, proceed.
Step 4: Look into your options
If your child is going into middle school, check to see what kind of band and/or orchestra programs are offered. If they're in elementary school, check and see if some of the older grades have a music program. Many elementary schools teach recorder, which is a great starter instrument. Some schools may even offer piano or guitar classes. Otherwise, what lessons are available in your area? To find music instructors, you may want to ask a band director or member of a local band or orchestra.
Step 5: Help your child choose an instrument
You'll want to take several things into consideration... among them, your child's commitment to music (it's possible that they'll lose interest next week... maybe it's not the best idea to go out and buy them a sousaphone), their size (don't give an 8 year old a tenor saxophone, as they won't be able to hold it or support it), and maturity (perhaps the most expensive instrument isn't a good idea, if it'll be in danger from reckless behavior). Once you've got a general idea of what you might be looking for, take them to a music store or arrange for them to meet with a band director to try a number of common "starter" instruments - these are as follows:
Step 7: Encourage your child to practice
Once they've started taking lessons or practicing with a group, the best way for them to excel at playing is to practice for at least half an hour or so every day. Don't be too harsh about forcing them, but make sure they understand how important it is to practice. Encourage and motivate them, and be sure to congratulate them when they do something exceptionally well.
As your child gets older and more mature, they might want to take up a second instrument, and become a multi-instrumentalist. If you think they can handle it, let them give it a try. Although they can't play both instruments in the same orchestra, they could play their current instrument in the band and just take regular lessons on a different instruments.
Be reasonable when helping the child choose an instrument. If your child could fit into the case, or the instrument is twice as tall as they are, you might want to go a little smaller. You also don't want to pick a rare or less heard-of instrument, such as a contrabass clarinet or mezzo-soprano saxophone. Instruments like these will be hard to find, even harder to find music for, and may be practically impossible to find a teacher for, and most band programs don't have a place for them. Why let them learn the contra-alto flute, only to find that they'll have to switch to a concert flute when they start playing in school.
Stereotypically, flute players are obnoxious, self-centered girly girls. However, there are plenty of successful male flute players, and most females aren't nearly that bad. Trumpet players are said to be big-headed, obnoxious guys, and have a general "I'm better than you" attitude", as well as egos that can be seen from space. Don't listen to this - girls can play the trumpet too, and there are plenty of nice trumpet players with much smaller egos. The list goes on. Although in every section, there may be a few players who conform to such stereotypes, most of the blanket statements just aren't true. Or fair. Avoid stereotypes and the old standards. There's no rule that says your child should learn the violin, or that you have to force them to take piano lessons until they're teenagers. Many children learn to play other instruments such as the tuba or oboe as young children. Perhaps that kills some of the common stereotypes of child musicians, but if they do well with it, stereotypes should be the last thing on your mind.
Tuba or flute? Picking the right instrument for your child
Music educators use body type and personality to determine best instrument for a child
Experts look at how outgoing a child is, lip size, height to make best match
Best advice for parents is to first let the child decide what he or she wants to play
Researchers say music training turns kids into more effective learners
(CNN) -- Most parents are probably so focused on just getting our kids to play an instrument that we don't give much thought to the question: "What's the right instrument for my child?"
Quite honestly, on the list of things I'm supposed to keep in mind as a parent, I never knew such a question existed. Until now.
Ron Chenoweth is the band and orchestra division manager for Ken Stanton Music, a Georgia-based music education company with nearly 100 teachers providing more than 1,000 lessons every week. Part of Chenoweth's job includes managing a team that regularly goes into schools to help band directors determine what instrument each student should play. Two things he and his colleagues are always looking at are body type and personality.
Best instruments for kids who like center stage
If a child likes to be the star of the show, Chenoweth might steer the child to the flute because flutists tend to stand in front of the band. "I look for the kid that's smiley, happy, sometimes talkative, rather than just very, very quiet," said Chenoweth, who has been with Ken Stanton Music for 16 years. "They usually are asking questions and they'll say, 'Well, I want to do this because ... ' and so they're telling you their story. Other instruments for extroverts, Chenoweth says, are the saxophone and trumpet. "They tend to be lead instruments, whether a jazz band or a show band. They play that higher melodic part, and these kids tend to be almost uncontrollable at some point," he said with a laugh. "But they just are very outgoing. You don't really see the quiet ones go that way."
How body type factors in
Physical characteristics can determine the best instrument for a child too. Take the bassoon, for example, which isn't ideal for small kids. "The bassoon, when assembled, is almost 6 feet tall, and the spread of the finger holes is ridiculous," he said. Someone with very small lips might be better suited for the trumpet or French horn, while someone with larger lips might have trouble playing those instruments, according to Chenoweth. "The cup size of a trumpet or a French horn would be too small, and they wouldn't actually be able to produce a good sound," said Chenoweth, who played the French horn in his high school and college marching bands and has been involved in music education ever since. "And then sometimes you're surprised. ... Somebody you thought 'Oh, they'll never get the sound out of this trumpet,' and away they go."
I asked Chenoweth what personality and physical attributes might lead to success with other instruments:
• Oboe: An important trait for mastering this "very intricate" instrument is "above average intelligence," according to Chenoweth.
Tuba: An excellent choice for students with larger lips, he said.
• Trombone: The player's front teeth should be even. "You want a nice bite that shouldn't be in need of orthodontia," he said.
• Violin: Kids can start playing as early as 2 to 3 years old. "I think because they have varying sizes, it makes them rather universal," said Chenoweth, who started playing the clarinet in the fourth grade.
• Piano: Long fingers or large hands are desirable, and so is being a good thinker. "Physically they're going to need good dexterity with their hands," said Chenoweth. "You would probably look for a propensity to something analytical, somebody who might show a little bit of inquisitiveness."
Let them play what they want to play
Even before you start assessing whether an instrument matches your child's personality, or if they have the right body type for success, you should let your child be the guide, Chenoweth says.
"My first thing is you have to get them onto an instrument that they first are interested in because if there's little interest in playing it, there will be the same amount of success -- very little," he added.
Try not to push them to play what you played, said Chenoweth. "Private lessons at home with the parent are not necessarily going to be successful," he said with a laugh.
And always try to be supportive, even when it just might not be music to your ears.
"We all know that the sounds are not going to be great," said Chenoweth, but parents should try to stay positive. That means avoiding comments such as, " 'Oh here we go. Here's something new to try for three months and then you're going to give it up. Are you ever going to pick something that you're going to stick with?' "
The importance of music education in schools Why music matters
Dr. Nina Kraus, professor of communication sciences, neurobiology, and physiology, and the director of the Auditory Neuroscience Laboratory at Northwestern University, has been studying the impact of music training on a child's cognitive development for almost a decade. Her extensive research has been published in more than 200 journals and media publications.
Defining a musician as someone who plays music twice a week for 20 minutes, she and her team compare how the brains of musicians and non-musicians respond to sound and the impact music playing has on the musician's attention, language, memory and reading abilities.
"The same biological ingredients that are important for reading are those that are strengthened through playing a musical instrument," said Kraus. "The ability to categorize sounds, to pull out important sounds from background noise, to respond consistently to the sounds in one's environment ... these are all ingredients that are important for learning, for auditory learning, for reading, (and) for listening in classrooms."
Her findings, she said, have a clear message for policymakers and parents. "It's not just about your child becoming a violinist," said Kraus, a mother of three whose children all played an instrument growing up. "It's about setting up your child to be a more effective learner for all kinds of things."
And the benefits continue even after a child stops playing, says Kraus.
"The brain continues to profit long after the music lessons have stopped," she said. (To visualize Kraus' extensive research and comprehensive findings, check out her slideshow.)
If my girls weren't already signed up for music lessons this fall (we're starting with piano!), I'd be signing them up today. http://www.cnn.com/2013/09/09/living/parents-kids-body-type-music-instrument/
Finding the right instrument for your child is a difficult but important factor in your child’s continued musical success. Forcing a child to play an instrument rarely leads to the love of music making we want. Here are some components to consider when helping your child choose the right instrument.
The first thing to consider is your child’s age. If your child is younger than six, make sure you understand the purpose behind playing an instrument at such a young age and acknowledge the physical limitations of a child that young. Piano and violin are the most popular instruments for children under six because they help build a foundation for your child to choose a different instrument at a later age, should they want to do so.
The violin is a smart choice because the instrument can be manufactured in particularly small sizes, making it easier for younger children to handle. Although instruments like the guitar are also available in smaller sizes, the violin is advantageous in its lack of frets or keys, allowing your child to focus solely on the sounds produced. In addition, this helps kids learn to play in tune, and the bowing of the right hand teaches the concept of musical phrasing. Both of these skills are the foundation for playing most other instruments.
Although a child doesn’t control the tune or pitch of the keys on a piano and there is no “bowing” skill necessary, the piano has its own advantages. For example, playing the piano allows musicians to play both the melody and harmony simultaneously, thus teaching important perceptual and musical skills. The piano also provides a visual representation of music that is essential to understanding music theory. In summary, choosing either of these introductory instruments is a wise decision for young children.
As children get older, some will move on and experiment with other instruments. With age comes the physical strength required to play brass instruments, woodwinds, or larger string instruments. It’s important to make sure that your child and his instrument are physically similar in size. For example, although there are exceptions, a child with small hands might have difficulty with the string bass or even the piano, which a child with large hands or awkward fine motor skills might have trouble with an instrument such as the mandolin or oboe. One test of matching physicality should be whether your child enjoys holding the instrument or if it’s overpowering and limiting to him; while this seems like common sense, it is often ignored because children imagine themselves playing the instrument before they even hold one. Sometimes the desire to play a certain instrument can trump the limitations; however, it’s better to start with an instrument more compatible with your child’s body.
Another important factor in choosing the right instrument is the sound of the instrument and how it’s produced. If your child doesn’t like the sound that an oboe makes, they won’t enjoy playing the oboe. Similarly, if your child doesn’t like the way the sound of a trumpet is made (by blowing) they won’t enjoy playing the trumpet. These are extremely important considerations because there will be little motivation to practice, your child might resent the instrument (or playing music in general) and the sound and way of playing aren’t attributes that “grow on you.” This may seem obvious to parents, but be aware that some teachers or band leaders might encourage your child to play an instrument they don’t like because the band “needs” another bassoon or French horn.
One of the most potentially defeating aspects of choosing an instrument is its “social image,” meaning kids will choose the instrument they perceive as the “coolest” even if that instrument seems like a bad fit. For some, this will lead them to their life’s instrument (as happened for me with the electric bass) but for others it will be a dead end because the “coolness” factor often clashes with the previously mentioned considerations. You can’t ignore your child’s preconceived notions of an instrument (or themselves playing it), but you should temper that with the reality of the other factors.
There is no greater joy than finding “your” instrument. I believe this is a cornerstone of future success. Keeping an open mind (both you and your child) and following these common-sense rules will serve as the stepping-stones to the perfect match of child and instrument. http://www.pbs.org/parents/education/music-arts/helping-your-child-choose-the-right-instrument/
Quiz: Which Instrument is Right for My Child?
Find out what instrument might be perfect for your child. Simply choose the answer that best describes your child and then view your results to find out which instrument is the best match. Give it a try!
Question 1: What kind of music does my kid like to listen to?
Classical. Mozart all the way!
Folk and pop
Jazz and big band
Rock. Everything from Elvis to Linkin Park.
Question 2: What's a good way to describe my child's personality?
Quiet and introspective
Confident and calm
Laid back and friendly
Outgoing and big-hearted
Boisterous and active
Question 3: What is the ideal size for an instrument?
As long as it doesn't have to go anywhere, it doesn't matter
Small. My child will have to carry it to and from school and practice
Medium is perfect
My child can handle a medium to large instrument, no sweat
My child has the maturity to handle something quite large and bulky
Question 4: If s/he were a color, it would be:
Question 5: My child is happiest:
In a museum or aquarium
With a small group of friends
At a party
On a jungle gym
Question 6: How active is my child?
Question 7: His/Her favorite animal is the:
Question 8: Which movie does my child like best?
The Sound of Music
Wallace and Gromit
Back to the Future
Question 9: How much noise is s/he comfortable with?
Indoor voices, please
No louder than Beethoven's 5th
Hannah Montana levels
Blast that radio!
Question 10: My child is great at:
Fine motor control, like knitting