Help! My child is in lessons, but I’m not musical!
What do you do when your child is taking music lessons, but you don’t consider yourself a “musical person?” How can you make sure your child is truly progressing? Miss Haleigh returns to the Learning Allegro Blog to tackle this common question.
I grew up with musical parents. My dad has an amazing ear and hails from a long line of musicians with perfect pitch. My mom CLAIMS she can’t carry a tune, but I inherited that perfect pitch gene, and I can attest that she’s more musical than she thinks. I also had the influence of my grandfather, an orchestra violinist, and several musical siblings in my life at an early age. In other words, as far as growing up with music goes, I hit the jackpot.
That’s not the case for everybody. I’ve met many parents over the years who worry that their own lack of musical ability (or even interest) will keep their children from reaching their full potential as musicians. It’s true that having a musical parent is handy, especially when you’re learning music theory, but I promise it’s not the deciding factor in your child’s musical future.
With that in mind, here are a few common concerns I have heard from parents that need to be addressed:
1. I DON’T KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT MUSIC.
That’s okay! My younger brother is currently majoring in finance at a state school. I know nothing about finance — but it doesn’t stop me from supporting him and appreciating his passion. It’s okay if your child can read sheet music better than you, or if you don’t know too much about technique. Your support and encouragement can honestly go just as far as a crash course in technique or theory.
2. I DON’T LIKE HOW IT SOUNDS WHEN MY KID IS PRACTICING.
Okay, music teachers get this one. As much as we love our students, anyone can get tired of “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” after hearing it 500 times! Remind yourself that the season of squeaky notes and nursery rhymes is short, especially if your child loves his or her lessons. The more they enjoy themselves, the more they will practice! The more they practice, the more enjoyable their music will sound to everyone around them.
You can also ask questions (kindly!) to steer your child in the right direction–questions like “Are you sure that’s the proper note?” or “How did your teacher ask you to hold your bow?” Those questions allow your child to “teach” a little by relaying the information to you, and they should also help correct the sour notes.
3. I DON’T FEEL EQUIPPED TO HELP MY CHILD AT HOME.
There are plenty of ways to troubleshoot this one. The best way is to sit in on your child’s lessons. Listen to the teacher’s dialogue with your child and take a few notes. It’s amazing how much you can learn as a fly on the wall! You can also check out some simple theory videos on Youtube or find a theory app for your smartphone.
When I was taking algebra in grade school, my mom bought herself an algebra textbook and would teach herself the problems at night while we were asleep. She always managed to stay one step ahead of us–and it was a huge help! I’m not suggesting you lose sleep over your kids’ lessons, but I do believe that a little bit of self-education can go a long way and make you a more confident source of support for your young musician.
4. I’M NOT REALLY INTO THE MUSICAL GENRE MY CHILD IS LEARNING.
If your child is learning an orchestra instrument, he or she will probably get a foundation in classical music because it really is the best technical training you can get. Country, pop, and fiddle are all fun, but they don’t typically test your skillset as thoroughly as classical music does. If your child is learning a genre you don’t particularly enjoy, that’s okay. Again, your support is the main thing
You might find, however, that you enjoy it more than you think. Do a little research! Play the classical/folk/rock and roll songs around your house. The more you expose yourself to the genre your child is playing, the more you will be able to appreciate it.
5. IT’S TOO HARD (OR TOO LATE) FOR ME TO LEARN THIS KIND OF THING.
Nope! Some of my favorite students are parents who wanted to cross “play piano” off their bucket lists. You can do this! More specifically, you can learn to enjoy your child’s passion. Why not try classes for a month or two? It’s a good way to give yourself some “me time” while challenging your brain, learning a new skill, and entering the musical world of your son or daughter.
For more information about lessons at Learning Allegro, click here!