Advantages Life-long enjoyment, opens so many doors socially, creative, constructive
Disadvantages Cost, discomfort when parents have headaches!
Neither my husband or I are musical. Neither of us were accepted into our school choirs. We both gave up learning the piano after a year or so in our teens, when younger brothers were clearly more talented. We enjoy listening to music, but that's about as far as it goes. When our two children were small, and I talked to parents of musical teenagers, I tended to assume their children showed clear musicality when they were toddlers; hearing about their concerts and practices seemed more like an episode from a soap than a reality we might one day appreciate ourselves.• Our personal experience •
The more I discussed this with other parents, the more I realised that perhaps there was value in children learning an instrument, even if they never became world-class musicians. So when my first son started learning the recorder at school, I encouraged him and sat with him through some of his practice times. I couldn’t help much, but at least I could slow him down, help him not to worry when it was too hard, teach him the principles of taking it a little at a time. When both my sons asked if they could join a local children’s choir on a Saturday morning, I agreed and even helped them to get up early to be there in time each week.A year later my older son tried out various wind instruments at school and was offered tuition in clarinet. Both boys joined the school choir, and when they started asking for piano lessons, we managed to buy an ancient piano, and started first the older, then the younger as well, on piano lessons. We did tell them they needed to be committed to anything they started and that they would need to do the practice required by the teacher. We also impressed on them that if they were doing this much music, they would not have the time (nor would we have the money) for other activities - sports coaching and so on.
They thought about it, then my older son heard his great-grandfather playing the piano. After that, he told me seriously that he wouldn’t be able to play football when he was 90, so he felt it was a much more worthwhile thing to learn music!By the time he'd been learning the recorder for three years, music had somehow become a major part of our lives. During term-time we arrived at school early, two mornings a week, for recorder practice, and stayed late after school for choir and band on two afternoons. After school they both had to practise, and I had to make frequent trips to the city centre for new music. During the Summer term there was some concert or other musical activity most weeks, and I realised that while some families are 'into sport', ours had fallen 'into music' in a big way.
• Teenagers and music •When we moved abroad (the boys being 11 and 9) and looked at educational options, music was a big priority. The schools, sadly, appeared to do little in the way of music, and this was one of the reasons we opted for home education long-term. One of my husband's new colleagues was a piano teacher who was delighted to teach the boys, and refused to take any payment; the local Municipal Band leader agreed to take our older son as a clarinet student.
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