In the last Mommy Monday post, inspired by a question from a Maven reader, I described some of the ways we did—and did not—engage our kids in early music experiences.
What about after the early years are over?
My husband and I made a decision early on that our kids would take piano lessons. They have to learn English, math, and science; therefore, they must learn music as well. It’s a mandatory, core subject.
Here are some of the “rules” we consciously made when it comes to piano lessons…We started our son early, just shy of his 5th birthday. We chose to pay for someone else to teach him. Even though I could have gotten him started for the first several years, I, one, wanted to avoid the power struggle and, two, knew that I would still be highly involved in his practicing, so he would still get plenty of attention from me.
He practices almost every day, most of the time with one of us sitting at the piano playing with him and all the time with one of us monitoring and guiding his practice. Playing the piano is part of our morning routine—15 minutes between breakfast and leaving the catch the bus. It’s not uncommon at this point for his to get 2 sessions in a day, once in the morning with mommy, then again in the evening with daddy.
Although the piano lessons are mandatory, I do keep on eye on his level on enjoyment. From a teaching and skills development standpoint, I know that learning must be fun in these early years. It’s this initial enjoyment and love of music that will keep him engaged and committed when the learning process gets more difficult.
So far it’s working. He loooooves the piano. The other day, he and his sister sat at the piano for 45 minutes, playing and improvising together. He just played in his first piano festival over the weekend (and got a “I” rating!). And he loves to perform. Want proof? Check out the video below from his piano recital in spring 2012 and note his smile at the end as he gets back to his seat…
Finally, to be fair, it’s not always as rosy as it sounds. I get frustrated with him (I try so hard not to be…a work in progress, I think). There are days we don’t get on the piano (including, I’ll admit, most of the summer). And it’s a struggle at times to find that balance between wanting him to “play it perfectly” and realizing that he’s only 5.
All that said, it was never a question that our kids will learn music. They don’t have to do it professionally, but I will provide my children that training, the opportunity to learn discipline and to feel proud of their accomplishments.