Sometime in 2011, I went around town trying to promote my newly founded guitar school to gain patronage. It was a pleasure having to see people excited to enrol. So, one day, I came to this high school and met with people who seemed to be management staff. After introducing myself and what I came for, with dissatifaction one of them asked a question like this: ‘Would your music school help my students pass their exams?’ I guess this is the same kind of question parents would want to ask whoever would want to introduce something outside the ordinary to their children. Even for parents who allow their children explore their passion for music, it seems they (the parents) are only comfortable doing that once they are assured such exercises would not distract their child(ren) from his or her studies. Perhaps the next best excuse you would accept for your child to pick up a musical instrument is because it may serve as an alternate source of income in these tough economic times. Well, if any of these thoughts above are yours, then you and your precious child are missing out on some tangible benefits of learning how to play a musical instrument:
1. Increased self-esteem
Some parents are not aware of this fact, but self-esteem means far more than high exam scores to many children. While this should not be so, if the self-esteem bit of a child’s life can be settled, then the child is likely to consider paying more attention to his books. So, how can a musical instrument help build self-esteem in a child? An instrument is an instant crowd puller. It even pulls and attracts the admiration of those who don’t necessarily want to learn how to play an instrument. In fact, from personal experience, non-instrument players almost always love to treat those who can play them as their juke-boxes, asking them to play their favourite tunes. Whatever the case, at that stage in life, musicians hardly lack positive attention; and positive attention fuels confidence.
Influence attracts responsibility and responsibility builds personality… and you know what personality builds, a good chance to lead a highly successful life. Now, while every child is not looking for influence or ‘power’ over their peers, and those who often look for it want it so that their peers would fear them. Music has always been an effective medium to convey, broadcast and elucidate causes. Give your child that instrument and you have essentially given him a microphone, and if your child has a lot of great ideas or even positive objections, it would be more likely that he would be heard and believed.
What can be more frustrating than having a child you ‘can’t get to’? Delinquent children have deep-seated issues, and music often serves as a ‘safe place’ for them to cool off (like highly expressive rap songs manage to do). However, there is a more profound effect that music can have on an individual- introspection. Many who play a musical instrument often grow from mimicking their favourite tunes to creating those of their own- its only natural. And when this growth happens, they would have to search within themselves to find lyrics and sounds that best express their personalities. In other words, such an individual would have to communicate with himself or herself and in so doing could find some level of acceptance of himself and their world. When this ‘settlement’ happens to whatever degree it does, that fellow is more likely to respect themselves and find some composure to engage others.
These points may all be psychological, but what goes on in the mind is always the difference between success and failure. Sure, music is not a Saviour, but it offers a platform for the healing process to start. One last advice: don’t just get an instrument and hand it over to your youth and expect the ‘miracle’ to begin. You are a huge ingredient in that miracle because as a parent, you should get involved, show interest in your child’s inner and outer struggles. I’d suggest that you let that musician in you reach out to the musician in your child. Hopefully, through that, you would get to find out what instrument your child would love, and as you continue reaching out, you’ll know how to engage them next after you get it for them… Now you know what may make for an amazing birthday gift next time #smiling#