Most professional musicians supplement their incomes by teaching and sharing with others their expertise and knowledge of how to play their chosen instrument. I have taught trombone and trumpet for many years, mostly to school children. I find brass tutoring fascinating for many reasons. For one thing, it has taught me a lot about the most effective ways to learn skills. These techniques are then transferable across to other disciplines, such as languages or sports.
I consider learning and practising a musical instrument to be one of the best “brain training” activities available to us. I highly recommend learning to play a musical instrument to everybody. It’s great for adults and fantastic for children. Unfortunately, many of the best reasons for learning to play an instrument are overlooked.
The Biggest Fallacy Parents Have About Their Children Playing A Musical Instrument
Inquiries for music lessons regularly come in from parents. Usually their son or daughter is joining the school band. The biggest fallacy I commonly face when talking to parents is that they think that learning a musical instrument should primarily be fun. Typically, they say, “I justwant them to have fun”. I challenge this with saying, “it may not necessarily be fun, but if they put in the time and effort, it will be enjoyable and rewarding”.
The Flaw With “Fun”
Parents who emphasise the “fun” aspect of whatever their children undertake are heading for disaster. Consider that being challenged is rarely fun. Children (and most adults) prefer avoiding things that are difficult. Dealing with adversity is commonly averted whenever possible. This is typical of adults as well as children. Things that children typically find “fun” include eating sugar, playing video games, watching television and taking photographs of themselves. When they become adolescents, this progresses to binge drinking, drug taking and getting more “likes” on Instagram. Encouraging your children to have fun generally isn’t acting in their best interest. Getting your child to develop tenacity and be able to focus on long term goals is a far better goal.
Learning Fulfilment Through Playing A Musical Instrument
Delayed gratification is one of the most valuable lessons a child can learn. Things that are rewarding in our lives are rarely easy. They require persistence, diligence, tenacity and consistent attention. When the Olympics come around every four years, we become engrossed in the achievements of athletes who have dedicated thousands of hours to training and practice. Obviously, those with natural talent and aptitude are advantaged, but we still love the story of the runner who comes in seventeenth place, but has achieved her/his “PB” (personal best). Everybody respects the effort taken by others to achieve their best performance. Studying a musical instrument is a wonderful way to learn this life lesson.
Achieving Outcomes That Are Rewarding Takes A Lot Of Hard Work
There are many similarities between training in a sport and playing a musical instrument. Both require the brain and the body to co-ordinate to perform a desired function. This is generally done through repeating the same action over and over again, for example kicking a ball (sport) or playing a scale (music). The most effective approach is through breaking down a problem into smaller segments. With kicking a ball, this can be done by segmenting the steps and slowing down the action. Similarly, in music a scale can be slowed down and split into groups of four or five notes.
Smart Kids Play Music
I wouldn’t recommend becoming a musician to anyone. I do enjoy it, but it’s a terrible business to make a living from. Regardless, I highly recommend playing a musical instrument to every human on earth. It’s one of the best activities we can do for our brains. In addition, it is amazing for the soul. Every child deserves the opportunity to play music, but they need to be coerced into practising otherwise the benefits are never achieved.
And to conclude, I challenge anyone who meets a medical doctor to ask them what instrument they either play or used to play. I guarantee they will have either studied an instrument or still play an instrument.
Find A Music Teacher
Here are two online directories to find a music teacher for either your child or yourself