I remember when a friend asked me whether he could introduce his four-year-old son to a musical instrument. I was not so optimistic because I knew the boy quite well. For starters, I knew how articulate the child was with words and so, I felt it was way too early to introduce a concept as complex as music to him, let alone a musical instrument.
Then again, I remember watching a 9-year old on a talent show handle an electric guitar at a skill level that wowed me. But on the other hand, perhaps this talented kid was simply a musical prodigy and his case was exceptional. But then again, how are musical prodigies discovered? Is it not by a very early introduction to such an instrument? In fact, we introduce i-pads and mobile phones to our two-year-olds and in such a small time, they can perform scary high-levels functions with them! So, without further ado, I’d tell you right now, introduce your child to a musical instrument the moment his fingers can hold things! I guess the bigger question is how can a child with their short attention span and playfulness learn a musical instrument in the right way
The problem with the formal attempt
I’ve watched school children of say between 6-15 years of age from giving presentations at special school ceremonies. When I remember the level of confidence with which they played, I conclude that they learned music without a well-rounded understanding. In other words, they ‘crammed’ music the way a chemistry student will cram the first 20 elements of the periodic table.
How simple tweaks may help
Music may be another subject in school but it must be taught as a lifestyle which no one is a stranger to. True, these schools may provide good music teachers who can (necessarily) play an instrument. However, being a musician does not make you a good music teacher. Perhaps the curriculum on music in basic and high schools even needs to be turned on its head. For example, imagine the radical difference it would make if children were taught music using in part their favorite pop songs as templates, rather than music composed centuries ago! Your child’s excitement of being able to impress their friends with the ability to play to a well-known song alone will drive their determination.
My closing advice:
Regardless of whether or not your child learns/would learn music in school, plan to get him a good tutor for home practices. If you can’t afford one, introduce him to child-friendly online resources on how to play that instrument of his choice. This way, he can learn at his pace. Here at GuitarClinic, original tutorials would be provided (suitable for persons from age 8 upwards) and readers would be informed of and linked to other good resources from other good music teachers out there.
Got a child who is exhibiting some unique traits and you wonder if learning a musical instrument would be right for him/her, do share your story in the comment section below and perhaps you may see you’re not alone, plus you may get some advice on what to do next. Remember, you can like or follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Simply click on the links on the top of the page and like/follow our social pages.