Wander into any music stores in Houston, and you’ll no doubt run into a parent with a child who’s choosing an instrument. You’ve been thinking that music might be a good way to channel your child’s more creative tendencies, but even if the kid is keen on the idea of taking up drums, getting him or her to stick with the private lessons may be a bigger challenge. It’s fair to say that kids love the idea of playing an instrument, until it comes time to practice. Here are some suggestions for getting yours to persevere.
Talk to music store owners and ask for suggestions. Many store managers are musicians or former or current teachers. They’re well acquainted with the obstacles associated with keeping a kid interested in something that starts as a fascinating novelty but can quickly turn into a chore when things get tough.
Take your young Louie Armstrong to as many live performances as possible. The more exposure children have to professional musicianship, the more likely they are to appreciate the craft and the more they’ll come to understand the amount of discipline and time it takes to reach professional levels of artistry. Don’t just stick to one type of music, but expose your child to everything from classical to jazz to country & western.
Encourage experimentation, but only after your child has excelled at the basics. Real musicians start out playing the work of others and do so until they can play it exceptionally well. Once the basics are mastered, then they embellish what they know and eventually go on to create their own works. You can keep your child engaged by instilling a sense of discipline but allow for some “playing around” as well.
Finally, give your child the opportunity to meet and talk with musicians apart from their teachers and tutors. Nobody can sell the joy of playing music quite like someone who actually does (whether or not they make a living at it). Houston music stores are often good places to find musicians who’ll be too glad to foster young talent.
Maybe you want your child to study music because you know kids who do are generally more academically successful and better socially adjusted than their non-musical peers. Or you secretly hope your child will be the next Wynton Marsalis. Or maybe you just relish the thought of attending dozens of piano recitals in various poorly-ventilated Houston auditoriums. Whatever the reason, it’s important that you recognize that if little Johnny just doesn’t love to play, no amount of effort on your part will make him do so.