Give the Gift of Music
Music Can Enrich Almost
Any Child's Life
really cannot remember when I didn't want to play," says
musician Jordan Baugh of Burnt Hills.
Watching and listening
to him, you'd probably guess that he is at least a senior in
high school. The truth is,
he's only a freshman, and he has been an accompanist since
sixth grade when he started playing the piano for his
school's chorus. How did Jordan's
parents foster their son's love of music?
always had music in the home," Jordan's mother, Roxanne,
says. Jordan's father, Dave,
plays the guitar and the family would sing along when the
children were younger. Jordan
would sit next to his grandmother at her piano, watching her
play and listening to the music.
Soon, he began bugging his father to get him a piano,
and he began formal lessons in second grade.
Jordan didn't stop there. He
would sit near the organ during church services and observe
the organist intently. "He
was waiting for his legs to grow so he could reach the pedals,"
Roxanne says. At age 12, Jordan
began taking organ lessons.
Now he plays for church services occasionally and has played
for a gathering of over 800 people.
if you don't have a musical prodigy on your hands, you can
still certainly encourage a love of music in your child.
Music - whether you play for fun or professionally -
has wonderful benefits.
Jordan says that music helps him to focus and to
Musical training can start in infancy.
director of Musical Munchkins, with classes in Goshen,
Cornwall, Fishkill and Kingston, oversees a music program for
children ages 6 months to 5 years.
"Why we start children so young is because this age is
such a strong imprint age," Soberman says.
"Everything that they're absorbing is imprinting on
their souls, minds and bodies. We
can leave such a strong feeling of warmth, pleasure and
music. This truly will carry
with them through the rest of their lives and make a strong,
Lessons are an adult-child experience up to age 3, while 3- to
5-year olds attend group lessons without a parent or caregiver.
The group lessons cover things like pitch, meter, and
but the concepts are all taught through play.
"The underpinnings are very serious and well thought
out, but the perception on the child's part is that he's
playing," Soberman says.
"This is very important in looking for a good music
program for children. Play has to
be a big part of it - that's how they learn."
Musical Munchkins instructors are required to have not only a
music background, but an early-childhood background as well.
"It's really important that the instructors are able
to relate to young children in a sensible, caring and
humorous way, as well as, their music skills," Soberman said.
Parents can see how an instructor relates to a child
by simply observing the interaction between instructor and
Yamaha Music School starts children at age 4.
"The best time, we feel, is between the age of four
and five because the
human ear is at a peak sensitivity at that time so we can
utilize the student's abilities through ear training," says
Cheryl Wherry, director of Vincitore's Yamaha Music School in
Poughkeepsie and Fishkill. In
50-minute group lessons, children learn keyboard skills and
basic musicianship such as harmony training, composition,
theme and variations as they progress through the program.
"Lessons are very active, almost an hour long," Wherry says.
Vincitore's encourages parents to keep a positive
attitude when it comes to practicing.
Parents should not expect their child to sit at the
keyboard and practice for 30 minutes.
addition to traditional practice, practicing might included
singing in the car, doing rhythm activities or doing motions
with a dance - activities designed to keep a child's interest
and attention. For encouraging
practice, Vincitore's offers ideas that include positive
reinforcement, sticker books, charts, awards and parents
doing activities with their child.
Sometimes, said Wherry, parents need to accept that
for a child not to practice every day - that it may be better
to let it go sometimes rather than pushing the issue and
turning a child away from music.
instructor Sue Cole of Clifton Park says that parents need to
realize that the majority of children will not be disciplined
enough to practice on their own.
"They need to be
reminded and encouraged," Cole says.
"It is interesting that parents will often accompany
their children to sports team practice and stay to watch the
entire timer. However, when it
comes to practicing on an instrument, they tell the child to do
it and pay no further attention.
If parents would listen and help during practice time, the
success level would increase dramatically for the students."
tips for encouraging practice include dividing practice
sessions into short segments and asking the music instructor to
assign pieces that the student really likes to play.
pieces, combined with the necessary music, will stimulate a
child's interest in practicing.
considers second or third grade the optimum time for starting
a child in piano lessons. "The
child's reading skills
and coordination skills are more developed and it makes
learning easier," she says.
Although the optimal introductory age varies, most instructors
stress the importance of letting the vehicle your child chooses
for his musical expression be his or her choice, not yours.
Andra McKown remembers starting her oldest son,
music lessons. "I had signed
Martin up to do Suzuki piano. He
didn't want to do piano, he wanted to do violin, but I felt
like the piano was the basic instrument to learn all
instruments, so I wanted him to have this," she says.
When she mentioned this in passing to the Suzuki
instructor after signing him up for piano lessons, the
instructor all but screamed at McKown:
"She said that his first introduction to
music should be something he wants.
She stressed that he should be happy and that his
first introduction to music should be something he's
took lessons from Suzuki for three years in Pittsburgh before
moving to New York. He is now a
second-year violinist in his elementary school's orchestra.
Martin's younger brother, Connor, takes piano lessons.
"I think their mission is to play together," McKown says.
Finding the right music instructor for your child is one of the most important jobs for parents. "You have to have the right rapport with the teacher," Roxanne Baugh says.
"Let us come before Him with thanksgiving and extol Him with music and song." Psalms 95:2
"Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth, burst into jubilant song with music." Psalms 98:4