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Musical Resources

by Robert Kelley

Many parents want their children to learn music through singing or playing a musical instrument. Music study benefits overall academic development and lifelong enjoyment can be achieved making and sharing music with others. But how does one instill and sustain this interest? Following are a few suggestions.

The idea that children must be jump started at an early age is a product of commercial mythology. Three year old Mozart was not shuttled in a minivan to a music activity class. His latent abilities were nurtured by a home rich in fine music. The home is the foundation of a child’s experience. Parents can encourage musical interest by the degree of importance given it in home life.

Playing age appropriate selections from the works of the great composers at home can create an environment conducive to imagination and reflection. When parents place value on this, it is perceived by children as something worthy of attention and pursuit. Local music stores and mail order catalogues have a variety of tapes, compact discs and videos of classical music for children. Remember, parents make the qualitative choices and that it is not necessary to have a rock back beat or a goofy character singing Bach to be appealing. For example, children’s interest is peaked by tapes such as “Beethoven Lives Upstairs”, “Mr. Bach Comes to Call” or “Mozart’s Magic Fantasy”. These recordings are part of a series of audio and video cassettes that portray the composers and their music in the period which they lived. They are accessible, instructive and shed a human light on people who created music out of inspiration, dedication and hard work.

Singing in an ensemble musically develops a child and brings together parents and children with shared interest. Bach, Haydn and Schubert received their initial musical training as choirboys. A church choral program properly supported and disciplined can provide vocal training, teach music fundamentals and develop basic musicianship. Some professional musicians homeschooling their children have formed homeschooler choral groups that rehearse regularly and give public performances. Homeschooling families form closer associations and children’s musical education is furthered.

A final resource is one frequently overlooked. Most colleges and universities have music departments providing specialized degree programs in musical performance, conducting and composition. Each semester, student recitals are given by solo instrumentalists and ensembles that are free and open to the public. It would not be fitting to take a small child to such a program, but children over seven could benefit from seeing and hearing individuals who by choice have devoted considerable time and effort toward achieving musical goals. Music departments can be contacted for information and literature on event schedules.

Often parents’ good intentions are confounded by the quantity of activities and diversions that present themselves under the guise of educational enrichment. Qualitative judgement underlies the decision to homeschool. Carting children around to myriad places for the sake of exposure to art or music is wasted time, energy and money. Listening to quality music with your child and showing an interest in it for thirty minutes a week is a sounder use of resources. Supporting the music instructor or choral director by discussing assignments and making sure music is practiced and prepared for lessons and recitals is to everyone’s advantage. Simple, wise decisions by parents can provide children with developed musical skills and endless musical pleasures.

Copyright © 2006 Modern Media