As a parent, you need your kids to follow directions. You’d also like them to play well with others and improve their fine motor skills. And wouldn’t it be wonderful if they could find healthy ways to express themselves, and appreciate the arts?
Research shows early exposure to music education helps with all these things. But what’s too early? And where do you start?
INFORMAL MUSIC EXPOSURE
Not all music education is formal. One of the best ways to get your children interested in music is to take them to live performances. An article in Psychology Today links listening to live music with decreased stress, increased energy, and greater overall quality of life. Free concerts held outdoors, at local colleges, and at the library are a good place to start—the price is right, and it’s less stressful to leave if your kids get restless.
Another fun way to introduce children to music is the Instrument Petting Zoo. Children (and adults!) get to try out different instruments, listen to how they sound up close, and talk to experts about what it’s like to learn to play. The Baton Rouge Conservatory hosts an annual Instrument Petting Zoo (see the Local Resources section below for details).
Playing recordings at home and on the road is a great way to expose your children to many different kinds of music. If you and your family and friends play—even if they just dabble—invite them for a jam session. Like the Instrument Petting Zoo, this is a wonderful opportunity to experience the joy of music.
GENERAL MUSIC CLASS
Newborns through age eight can participate in general music classes like Kindermusik and Music Together. These classes promote parent/child bonding while teaching skills and having fun. In mixed-age classes, older students model appropriate behavior for younger students to follow.
Music Together classes teach rhythm, movement, and singing. Kindermusik includes all those things plus life skills—and suggestions for how to continue to include music outside of class. Both classes are suitable for babies through 1st graders. And don’t worry if your child has trouble following instructions. Plenty of support (and grace) is included. Plus, since it’s a class, there’s always the option to mirror the other children!
You may think your child doesn’t need one-on-one lessons if they take band or orchestra in school and they’re doing fine. But actually, in addition to providing tutoring for struggling students, private music lessons can be a way to nurture something that’s already going well. They’re also an opportunity for homeschoolers or children from schools without music programs.
The Dance Center – School of Performing Arts is an example of a multi-disciplinary school. Children can take dance, music, and theatre classes all in the same place. This is perfect for families with varied interests. Palacios House of Arts is another school that offers art and Spanish classes along with music lessons.
When you sign up for private music lessons, the expectation is that you will stick with the same instrument for at least a year. Students may say they changed their mind and want to try something else. But this may be because they’re not sure how to practice, or because it’s harder than they imagined.
Encourage them to keep the final goal in mind. Remind them of why they chose that instrument in the first place. One day they will play the way they want…but only if they stick with it. Help them choose a regular practice time, and make it easy for them to stick to it. If they’re younger than 10 years old, join them in their practice! And ask the teacher for recommended practice techniques. Allowing your children to stop playing their chosen instrument sends the message that you don’t expect them to honor their commitments.
However you start—congratulations! Including music in your child’s life will open windows to new worlds for them to explore.
Arts Council of Greater Baton Rouge https://www.artsbr.org (Events)
Baton Rouge Conservatory / Baker Music Academy
Baton Rouge Symphony Orchestra https://www.brso.org
(Events, Youth Orchestra)
Children’s Music Studio https://www.childrensmusicstudiola.com
DC – SPA http://www.dancecenter-spa.com
(Dance, Theatre, Music Lessons, School of Performing Rock)
East Baton Rouge Public Library https://www.ebrpl.com (Events)
Instrument Petting Zoo https://exciting-trader-623.ck.page/9de8259e63
LSU College of Music and Dramatic Arts https://cmda.lsu.edu (Events)
Palacios House of Arts https://palaciosarts.squarespace.com
(Art, Spanish, Music Lessons)
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