Bach to Beatles - Your Music Education Questions Answered
By Jennifer Levine
know that you want to integrate music education into your child's
life, but don't know exactly where to begin. You want him or her
to play an instrument but you don't know which one would be the
best or at what age to start. Relax. Here are the answers to help
your child begin the path to their music education.
are the benefits of music education? There are many. However, according
to Dr. Harry Steckman, Artistic Director of Steckman Studio of Music
located in Oak Park, IL, the three greatest benefits of providing
music education are academic achievement, improving self-esteem
and promoting good social skills.
do babies and young children respond so positively to music? Dr.
Steckman points out that our brains are wired for music. It is humankind's
most elemental instinct. Ever listen to a baby babble? You can hear
the highs and lows, ups and downs, and loud and soft ranges. The
development of language begins with music.
should a child begin music lessons? Music classes can begin at birth
or with tots if you can find a local parent/child class. At age
three and a half children can begin the Suzuki approach, usually
on piano, cello or violin. It was developed over forty years ago
by Shinichi Suzuki who called it "Talent Education". The
Suzuki Association of the Americas compares the Suzuki approach
to acquiring language. Children learn to speak their native language
much earlier than they begin to read and these basic principles
are applied to music. If you decide to take the Suzuki route, you
must be willing to take an active role in their instruction. Parents
usually attend the lessons and take notes and become the "home
teachers". The SAA points out that loving encouragement, parent
responsibility and repetition are some of the underlying features
to the Suzuki approach.
do you choose the right instrument? Dr. Steckman says you should
expose your child to music and live concerts at a young age and
let them take an active role in choosing the instrument. If you
decide not to sign up for Suzuki lessons, Dr. Steckman recommends
the following: wind and brass instruments at age nine, piano at
age seven, drums at age seven to eight and guitar at age eleven.
Voice lessons usually begin after adolescence.
playing an instrument improve a child's performance at school? Absolutely.
Studies have shown that children engaged in music education perform
higher on academic tests. Learning music is a multi-disciplinary
subject. Children learn to listen and concentrate, channel their
energies through performance and learn to work with other children.
Surveys show that teens that play an instrument are less likely
to have discipline problems.
what can parents do to promote music education at home? By playing
an instrument themselves, listening to music, taking children to
concerts and signing up their children for private or group lessons.
So when your four year old starts taking Suzuki cello and you hear
the screeching sawing on the strings, remember what is going on
in his or her little brain and that there just might be a Mozart
in the making. For more information visit www.steckman-studio.org
Levine is a freelance writer and mother of two in Richmond, Virginia.