OUR BLOG PAGE| Subjects about musical instruments | A1Sound.co.za (7)

03
Apr

Focusing on even the simplest exercise like a C major scale can be a powerful stress reliever

We are now at a moment in history when our access to information is 24/7. Although I don't think this is always a good thing. Our culture doesn't often reward behavior that focuses on slowing things down, though I think this is exactly what needs to happen to lower stress levels. Whether you are singing into a microphone, plucking the strings of a guitar with your fingers, or stomping on a bass drum pedal with your foot, you will see the difference in your stress levels once you start playing a musical instrument. According to Science of People “...casual music-making can short-circuit the stress response system and keep it from recurring or becoming chronic.” Beyond the physical aspects of playing an instrument, there are also the mental aspects to consider. I had a friend who was a psychologist whose job was incredibly stressful. She worked at a practice that was understaffed, increasing the demands on her time, and often leading to multiple double shifts per week. Looking for ways to reduce stress I suggested she take piano lessons. Like most people she initially felt she didn't have the time. I told her that everybody has the time to improve the quality of their life!  From my experience deep breathing was only one way to lower stress. If you have ever been to the gym you will know what I'm talking about. It is easy to feel the difference in your stress levels after a rigorous physical workout. Playing the drums uses muscles in your legs, arms, hands, wrists, back, and shoulders. It is literally hitting wood (drumsticks) against synthetic plastic (drum skins) and metal (cymbals). This is a tremendous way to relieve stress!  Initially, I was doing these exercises to become a better singer. In a short amount of time, I realized how this was positively affecting my mental health. From then on I began my daily practice session with this breathing exercise to calm my mind.  Something happened that was unintentionally life-changing on my first singing lesson. The singing teacher said “I want you to take a very large breath in and fill your lungs with air. Then gradually let the air out through your mouth making an 's' sound similar to a snake.” As soon as I did this everything slowed down. I realized many of us go through the whole day without doing any real deep breathing. Instantly I felt calm and less stressed out. I was determined to learn how to sing backing vocals to increase my value as a musician. Although I felt I had a decent voice, I had a previous negative experience that derailed my confidence. When I was a teenager I was singing in my bedroom. My older brother who was also a musician gently knocked on my door. He said “Was that you singing?” I said “Yes!” eagerly awaiting a compliment. Then he said “Oh, I thought someone was drowning a cat in here.” Needless to say, I was a little self-conscious of my voice after that. The drums and my self-esteem both took a good beating at those auditions. Instead of wondering why I wasn't getting those bookings, I simply asked the bandleader. He quite casually told me it was because the other drummer sings backing vocals. He then explained that when a band goes on tour, it would save the record company money if they hire musicians who could sing. This meant they wouldn't have to hire separate backing singers. Using this system, a lot of money was saved on fees, plane tickets, and hotel rooms. When I was just starting my career as a musician, I remember auditioning for a lot of bands. I would learn the drum parts meticulously so they would sound exactly like the tape (I'm an old guy, we didn't have MP3s back in the day). There was a period where I saw another drummer at every audition I attended. I would listen to him play outside in the waiting room. Although stylistically we sounded very similar, nine times out of ten he got the gig.Within weeks of learning the piano, she told me she could see the difference in her stress levels. Having to focus on even the simplest exercise like a C major scale, allowed her to be fully present in that moment in time. When this practice occurs it is virtually impossible to be overwhelmed by your problems because your focus is on what music you are making. According to The American Psychological Association "...hormones that create stress are reduced by playing music."
03
Apr

Benefits of Playing a Musical Instrument

CAN YOU IMAGINE LIVING YOUR LIFE WITHOUT MUSIC? IT WOULD BE VERY HARD TO DO SO, AS MUSIC HAS BEEN HARD-WIRED INTO OUR VERY EXISTENCE AS HUMAN BEINGS. THE CHINESE PHILOSOPHER CONFUCIUS SAID LONG AGO THAT "MUSIC PRODUCES A KIND OF PLEASURE WHICH HUMAN NATURE CANNOT DO WITHOUT." PLAYING A MUSICAL INSTRUMENT HAS MANY BENEFITS AND CAN BRING JOY TO YOU AND TO EVERYONE AROUND YOU. THIS ARTICLE WILL PROVIDE YOU WITH 18 BENEFITS OF PLAYING AN INSTRUMENT (IN NO PARTICULAR ORDER) AND WILL HOPEFULLY GIVE YOU A BETTER SENSE OF APPRECIATION AND PRIDE FOR MUSIC. The Benefits1. Increases the capacity of your memory. Research has shown that both listening to music and playing a musical instrument stimulate your brain and can increase your memory. A study was done in which 22 children from age 3 to 4 and a half years old were given either singing lessons or keyboard lessons. A control group of 15 children received no music lessons at all. Both groups participated in the same preschool activities. The results showed that preschoolers who had weekly keyboard lessons improved their spatial-temporal skills 34 percent more than the other children. Not only that, but researchers said that the effect lasted long-term. According to an article from The Telegraph online magazine, "New research suggests that regularly playing an instrument changes the shape and power of the brain and may be used in therapy to improve cognitive skills." There is continually more evidence that musicians have organizationally and functionally different brains compared to non-musicians, especially in the areas of the brain used in processing and playing music. If you learn how to play an instrument, the parts of your brain that control motor skills (ex: using your hands, running, swimming, balancing, etc.), hearing, storing audio information, and memory actually grow and become more active. Other results show that playing an instrument can help your IQ increase by seven points. 2. Refines your time management and organizational skills. Learning how to play an instrument requires you to really learn how to be organized and to manage your time wisely. A good musician knows that the quality of practice time is more valuable than the quantity. In order for a musician to progress quicker, he/she will learn how to organize his/her practice time and plan different challenges to work on, making efficient use of time. 3. Boosts your team skills.Team skills are a very important aspect of being successful in life. Playing an instrument requires you to work with others to make music. In band and orchestra settings you must learn how to cooperate with the people around you. Also, in order for a group to make beautiful music, each player and section must learn how to listen to each other and play together. 4. Teaches you perseverance.Learning to play an instrument takes time and effort, which really teaches you patience and perseverance. Most people can't play every piece of music perfectly the first time. In fact, the majority of musicians have to work difficult sections of music multiple times in a row before they can play it correctly. 5. Enhances your coordination.The art of playing an instrument requires a lot of hand-eye coordination. By reading musical notes on a page, your brain subconsciously must convert that note into specific motor patterns while also adding breathing and rhythm to the mix. 6. Betters your mathematical ability. Reading music requires counting notes and rhythms and can help your math skills. Also, learning music theory includes many mathematical aspects. Studies have shown that students who play instruments or study the arts are often better in math and achieve higher grades in school than students who don't. 7. Improves your reading and comprehension skills. According to a study published in the journal Psychology of Music, "Children exposed to a multi-year program of music tuition involving training in increasingly complex rhythmic, tonal, and practical skills display superior cognitive performance in reading skills compared with their non-musically trained peers." It's not surprising to hear results like that because music involves constant reading and comprehension. When you see black and white notes on a page, you have to recognize what the note name is and translate it to a finger/slide position. At the same time, you also have to read what rhythms the notes are arranged in and force your tongue to produce the correct pattern. 8. Increases your responsibility. Playing an instrument comes with its responsibilities. Maintenance and care are very important in keeping an instrument in working condition. Each instrument has different procedures to keep in functioning properly, but most instruments need cleaning and some form of oiling/greasing. In addition to maintenance responsibilities, there are other aspects such as remembering music events (like rehearsals and performances) and making time to practice. 9. Exposes you to cultural history. Often times music reflects the environment and times of its creation. Therefore, you learn a variety of music types such as classical traditions, folk music, medieval, and other genres. Music itself is history, and each piece usually has its own background and storyline that can further your appreciation of other cultures. 10. Sharpens your concentration. Playing music by yourself requires you to concentrate on things like pitch, rhythm, tempo, note duration, and quality of sound. Playing music in a group involves even more concentration because you must learn to not only hear yourself, but you must listen to all the other sections and play in harmony with the rest of the group. 11. Fosters your self-expression and relieves stress. It's your instrument, so you can play whatever you want on it! The more advanced you become on an instrument, the greater you'll be able to play what you want and how you want. Music is an art--just like an artist can paint his/her emotions onto a canvas, so can a musician play a piece with emotion. This has proven to relieve stress and can be a great form of therapy. In fact, music therapy has been useful in treating children and teens with autism, depression, and other disorders. 12. Creates a sense of achievement. Overcoming musical challenges that you thought you'd never quite master can give you a great sense of pride about yourself. When you first start learning how to play an instrument, it seems like just holding out a note for a couple beats or hitting a high pitch is an amazing accomplishment. As you practice and become a more experienced musician, making beautiful sounding music pleasing not only to your ear, but others as well is a very rewarding experience. 13. Promotes your social skills. Playing an instrument can be a great way to enhance your social skills. Some of the best people join bands and orchestras, and many times the friends you make here become like family. It's very common for people to gain lifelong friendships through musical activities like these. 14. Boosts your listening skills. Although it's pretty obvious, playing an instrument requires you to listen very carefully to things. You have to learn how to hear when you're playing a wrong note in order to correct yourself. Tuning your instrument means hearing if the pitch you're playing is high (sharp) or low (flat). When playing in an ensemble, you have to listen for the melody and play softer if you're the supporting part (accompaniment). There are too many examples to list every possibility here, but by playing an instrument you are guaranteed to improve your listening skills. 15. Teaches you discipline. As previously mentioned, playing an instrument can be very challenging. One of the qualities that musicians learn is discipline. Practicing often and working on the hard parts of music and not just the easy and fun stuff requires discipline. The best musicians in the world are masters of discipline which is why they are so successful on their instrument. 16. Elevates your performance skills and reduces stage fright. One of the goals of practicing so much on your instrument is so that you can perform for others. The more you get up in front of people and perform, the more you'll reduce any stage fright. Playing on stage in a band or orchestra helps with stage fright because you're not alone. Also, being prepared and really knowing how to play your part makes it much easier to get up and play for a crowd. 17. Enhances your respiratory system. If you have a good music director/tutor, you should hear them tell you quite often to "use more air!" Air is one of the key components in making wonderful-sounding music. In order to play any piece of music correctly when playing an instrument, you'll need to take huge breaths and learn how to expel the air properly to make the desired sound. Breathing exercises are highly recommended for musicians, and they can really strengthen your respiratory system. 18. Promotes happiness in your life and those around you. Playing a musical instrument can be very fun and exciting. Not only is it fun to play music that you enjoy, but it feels wonderful to hear an audience applaud you for giving a great performance. It can also be very honorable and gratifying to voluntarily play in your local community and see the happiness on people's faces because they enjoy watching you play. ConclusionAs you can see, playing a musical instrument has many benefits and hopefully that will motivate you to keep on practicing and always hold music in high esteem. Whenever you come across challenges as a musician, think about the end results and always remind yourself of all the great reasons you love to play. I'll leave you with an inspiring quote by jazz saxophonist and composer Charlie Parker who once said, "Music is your own experience, your thoughts, your wisdom. If you don't live it, it won't come out of your horn."
03
Apr

3 Things Parents Must Tell Their Children When They Begin a Musical Instrument

By: Tony MazzocchiArticle originally posted on The Music Parents’ Guide Hopefully your child will begin a musical instrument through their school music program. If so, when they bring home their instrument for the first time, it is more than just an exciting day… ...It is an opportunity... …Perhaps one of the greatest opportunities in your child’s life thus far. Photo: Victoria Chamberlin, victoriachamberlin.com If you are like me, you want your kid(s) to complete their K-12 education with far more than factual knowledge and an ability to score well on tests. You don’t believe that your child’s success in life depends primarily on cognitive skills — the type of intelligence that is measured on IQ tests and such. You don’t believe that school should be primarily focused on stuffing kids’ brains with as much factual knowledge as possible, but instead is focused on growing skills and mindsets that will last a lifetime. Psychological traits that include The patience to persist at a tough (and perhaps boring) task; The ability to delay gratification; The curiosity and grit to problem solve; …just to name just a few. And the musical instrument in your child’s hand could be the key to learning those skills. You see, your child didn’t receive an instrument with the expectation that they would become a professional musician, just as they did not receive a math book with the expectation of them becoming a mathematician. But, unlike any other subject, your child has the opportunity to develop some of the most important life skills through learning to play an instrument, and you need to let them know this is the case.Here are three things parents need to know and be able to express to their child as soon as they begin learning to play a musical instrument: “You are allowed to fail, and you will become better because of your failures.” There are no red pen marks for missed notes in music the way there are on tests — there is nothing to feel bad about when you play something “wrong” in music. To become skilled at a musical instrument — and to become great at anything — one needs to struggle a little. In your child’s case, they need to sound bad before they sound good; they need to work on things just beyond what they are capable of in order to get better and smarter, and that means they need to make mistakes. There is a small gap between what we all are able to do and where we want to be, and focusing on that gap makes us better learners and better people. Learning a musical instrument allows us to grow from our mistakes. “Hard works trumps talent every single time.” Practicing a skill over and over, the right way, fires circuits in our brains that solidify that skill. Sure, some people find some skills easier at first than others, but the people who practice that skill daily in order to “burn it” into their brain will always far surpass people who don’t practice enough. Practicing a musical instrument helps children learn the universal truth that hard work trumps talent. “This is a long-term commitment, and we are going to stick with it.” Studies have shown that students who identified that they would play their instrument for longer than one year outperformed students who only committed to one year of playing by up to 400% — practicing the same amount of time if not less! The ideas and mindsets students bring to their musical instrument study have a direct effect on their success, and it’s the parents’ role to set the tone on the first day by not giving their child an “easy out” to quit. Make the decision to invest in your child’s music education for at least a few years of their schooling and you will see results. There are not many subjects taught in school that have the potential to give our children the life skills they need to be successful beyond their school lives. Our children can learn how to have grit, motivation, problem-solving skills, flexibility, and character during and after their K-12 schooling — and music is the vehicle to teach these skills. What if we as parents treated music like any other core subject and expected our children to study it for at least 4 or 5 years? What does “success in school” mean to you and your child? About the author: A GRAMMY® nominated music educator, Anthony Mazzocchi has performed as a trombonist with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, New Jersey Symphony, San Diego Symphony, San Diego Opera, Riverside Symphony, Key West Symphony, in various Broadway shows and numerous recordings and movie soundtracks. Tony has served as faculty or as a frequent guest lecturer at The Juilliard School, Manhattan School of Music, New York University, and Mannes College of Music. He has taught students from K-college, and has served as a district Director of Fine and Performing Arts in the South Orange/Maplewood School District. Tony has been a consultant for arts organizations throughout the NY/NJ area.Tony blogs about how to be a successful music parent at The Music Parent’s Guide, and the book by the same name can be bought here. He has written a method book for music teachers called The Band Director’s Method Book Companion. Tony is currently Associate Director of the John J. Cali School of Music at Montclair State University in New Jersey. He is also Executive Director of the Kinhaven Summer Music School in Weston, Vermont. Tony is a clinician for Courtois – Paris.
03
Apr

5 Tips Effective Music Practicing

Consider restructuring your practice routine to make the most efficient use of available time. Here are five tips to help create your own personalized practice plan!   1. Make a Plan  Ask yourself the following questions:   What are your long-term goals? What are your short-term goals? What do you want to  accomplish each day? How do these goals align with your available time? What are some of your  greatest strengths already? In which areas of music do you want to improve in general?    Discuss and develop these objectives together with your teacher. Write them down, map them out  on the calendar, and create a timeline. Share your motivations for pursuing these goals with your teacher, too. They might have some more ideas that will help! 2. Listen Actively Be mindful and curious while you practice. If something didn’t work the way you expected, stop and try to determine why, and how you can fix it. Go back and make these adjustments  before moving on.  Don’t rush. Work slowly to solidify good intonation and technique. When we practice too fast  or without focus, we can fall into the trap of reinforcing bad habits.  Audio and video record yourself. Recording your own playing is one of the best tools to  promote focus and active listening.   Use technology effectively. The technology available to us today is very beneficial. Metronome  and tuner apps are available for free, and YouTube is filled with instructional videos and  professional performances we can access instantly. Yet, with all of these benefits comes the risk  of becoming distracted by text messages, social media, and funny cat compilation videos. Turn  your notifications on silent while practicing. 3. Set Time Limits When there is only a limited amount of time to complete a task, we are often more efficient in  completing that task. Two popular techniques for short bursts of concentrated practice using time  limits are the “Pomodoro Technique” and the “Random Practice Schedule.”  The Pomodoro Technique  Developed by Francesco Cirillo, The Pomodoro Technique is used in many different fields of  study and business. As applied to instrumental practice, this technique suggests scheduling planned breaks between longer periods of completely focused and uninterrupted work. To illustrate:   2+ hour practice session. Practice goals: Scales, Etude, Sonata 25 minutes: Scales 5 minutes: Break 25 minutes: Etude 5 minutes: Break 25 minutes: Sonata 5 minutes: Break 25 minutes: Sonata 35 minutes: Longer Break This practicing method also helps you keep track of how many sessions are needed to finish  working on one piece or etude. The times and frequency are adjustable according to your needs.  Random Practice Schedule   With the random practice schedule, you are breaking down your practice into very short segments and rotating among them. At first, this strategy might feel a bit fast-paced, but it is an excellent way to keep the brain active and constantly engaged. This practicing method is particularly helpful when preparing for orchestral auditions. When playing excerpts, you will need to switch from one composer, playing style, and musical era to another very quickly. This technique works best when you plan ahead. Determine which exercises and excerpts you would like to isolate and develop in one session. The times and repetitions are always adjustable to fit your needs. For further reading on the random practice schedule, see this article in the Strad. 4. Practice Performing  Don’t forget to practice performing your repertoire! Learning how to play through a piece in its  entirety (without stopping) is essential. In the practice room, we often stop and fix a spot where  we had a mistake or a memory slip. During a concert, however, this won’t be possible.   Set aside time in your schedule each day (or at least each week) to practice performing. Ask a  friend or family member to listen to you play through a piece. If you don’t feel ready for this yet,  turn on the recorder and play as if this is a concert.    If you are preparing for a recital or audition, set aside time to play through all the pieces together. You don’t want the first time you play through everything together to be at the recital itself!  5. Practice Without Your Instrument  Believe it or not, some of the most effective practice can be done without your instrument! After recording your playing, listen and take notes for your next practice session. This can help you isolate and concentrate on the areas which need the most work.   Sing or hum the music to discover the most natural ways of phrasing a melody.    Study the score. What did the composer want to convey with this music? What is the harmonic structure? If you are playing in an ensemble, learn how your part fits into the overall structure of the piece. Who has the melody and when? Do you ever play the same rhythm or share a line with another instrument?    Watch and listen to recordings of other musicians. Try following along with the score and  understand how they are interpreting the music.   Effective practicing is a skill that might take time to master, but it can make all the difference in your playing. Experiment with different techniques and discover what works best for you!
03
Apr

6 Tips for Recording Woodwinds at Home

My experience with recording various woodwinds at home during the pandemic was full of trial and error. Check out these 6 tips and tricks I learned to help your woodwind recordings sound more professional! 1. Have a Couple of ‘Perfect’ Reeds As always, make sure you have a few reeds that are perfectly worn-in, like your favorite pair of blue jeans. This step is arguably more important for recording than it is for live performances because recordings last forever! If you play the flute, double-check that your cork is in correct alignment.2. Consider Different Types of Microphone Weigh the pros and cons of the mics you could potentially record with. Personally, I record with either a condenser mic or a directional woodwind mic. You could also use a (vocal) dynamic mic in a pinch. When buying a directional mic for each individual woodwind that you play, it can get expensive. Oftentimes,  it is often well worth it. Say you have a directional, clip-on clarinet mic. That mic was specifically built to capture the range of the clarinet. Overall, these are your best bet. I have also found that directional mics are also the best at accurately capturing articulations. That being said, the big ‘con’ to this mic is that your accented notes can cause peaks, super easily. This would be a good time to try a condenser mic. However, they seem to sound more floaty, and less punchy… which brings us to the next tip. 3.Try Blending Microphones My most recent discovery when recording woodwinds is blending microphones. Here’s what has worked the best for me, out of all of the options: Record your woodwind with both a condenser mic and directional mic, at the same time. Doing this gives you the best of both worlds when it comes to getting both overtones, and articulations. This idea was suggested to me by guitarist Kevin Smith after I was explaining my woodwind recording conundrum to him – and man does it work well! Once the recording is done, pan each track just a little. This will give your listeners a higher-quality surround sound effect.  4. Adjust Your Mixer, and Sound-Check Three Times One of the mistakes I always make is wanting to record right away. I don’t adjust my mixer or check my levels, I’m just excited to GO! Take it from me: You need to do three sound checks before you get started. Check the following: Soft playingloud playing,legato / lyrical playing. If your soundcheck is loud enough in the quiet and lyrical tests, and articulate without peaking in the loud sections, you are good to go. 5. Watch Your Headphone Cord This may sound silly, but the game really changes when you have dangling cords and a transverse instrument, or a sax with a bell. If you arrange it incorrectly, it can actually flop around, and hit your stand or flute, causing unwanted noises! So, always make sure to put on and adjust your headphones before you pick up your instrument off the stand. 6. A “Grab Bag” of Tips for Recording Specific Woodwinds Recording Clarinet Record a clarinet’s sound above the tone holes in order to get the best quality of sound. If you place the mic too high, you run the risk of peaking and getting too much articulation and not enough of the sustained notes. Recording Saxophone Let’s dive into Simon Barker’s article, Recording Saxophone at Home. According to him, the closer you place the sax to your mic, the better the low frequencies are picked up. Most woodwinds start out being about a foot away from a condenser. But if you want to pick up on those sweet low tones, try getting a little bit closer.  Recording Flute When recording the flute, increase the bass just a bit on your mixer. Be really careful when you are placing a directional head joint mic, as this can pick up on too much air blowing, as well as noisy breaths, and peak at hard articulations. For recording on condenser mics, always make sure the microphone is high than the flute. This is a similar concept to placing the mic over the clarinet’s keys- It improves the overtones that are picked up. In Conclusion… Recording wind instruments at home is always full of challenges, but I hope these tips have helped make your recording process a little bit simpler!
03
Apr

How to stop nagging your child to practise their musical instrument

It's 4pm on a Thursday, and your child is on the couch with the iPad. You need to leave for the weekly music lesson in half an hour. You can see dust has gathered on the piano (or the flute or the saxophone), and another week has passed with only infrequent and erratic attempts at practice. Your child claims to want lessons, but doesn't seem to put in the effort. The prospect of paying another term's tuition is the last straw. You order your child off the couch and direct them to their instrument. What ought to be a rewarding activity for your child has become a bone of contention between you. And you dislike the nagging parent you've become.What parents say and do matters Research confirms the benefits of learning a musical instrument. It develops a life-long skill and offers children a means of enjoyment and self-expression. Not surprisingly, many parents who can afford the cost willingly spend money to give their children this experience.But there are real challenges that sit alongside the benefits of learning an instrument. Difficulty in finding time and motivation to practise, frustration over a perceived lack of progress, anxiety about performing in public and unhelpful beliefs about innate talent being more important than practising can make the whole process a misery.Parent encouragement, though well-intended, can quickly descend into nagging. And the reality of a child learning an instrument at home – the unpolished sounds, the seemingly incessant technical work (scales and arpeggios) – can challenge the family dynamic. Research into motivation and music education shows what parents say and do is enormously influential in determining the quality of the learning experience for their child. Nagging or bribing a child to practise only makes the activity feel like a chore. Children who are nagged to practise are likely to stop playing as soon as they can make that choice.So, what can parents do to encourage their children to practise? The following practical tips are drawn from multiple studies conducted by musicians, teachers and educational psychologists. 1. Start young and keep it funMost young children enjoy singing and movement. They are also not overly self-conscious or concerned with self-image. While a teenager might baulk at singing or playing an instrument for fear of how their peers might react, younger children freely engage in musical activity. Regular musical play normalises the act of making music and helps children develop habits that will, in time, underpin regular practice. A good early childhood musical program can help children shift gradually from play-based learning to a more structured learning when they are ready. It's vital these experiences are fun. The advice for parents? Join in! Show your child that music is fun by having fun with your child making music. 2. Praise their effort not their 'talent'The media generally lauds professional musicians as "talented". What's lost in the mythology our culture weaves around these people is that their seemingly effortless mastery of an instrument is in fact the result of much effort and learning. Praising a child for being talented reinforces a fixed mindset around musical ability. If a child believes people are either talented or not talented, they are likely to view their own struggles with learning music as evidence they aren't talented.Parents should praise the effort their child puts into learning their instrument. This recognises that practice makes perfect. 3. Emphasise the long-term benefits of playingParent praise has less impact over time on a child's motivation to practise. Teenagers either develop an internal motivation to continue learning their instrument, or stop. But a ten-year study of children learning instruments shows children who display medium and long-term commitment to an instrument practice more and demonstrate higher levels of musical achievement. Children who imagined themselves playing their instrument into adulthood were more likely to be highly motivated.Parents should encourage your children to see learning an instrument as a useful skill that can bring satisfaction and joy into adult life. It isn't simply this year's after-school activity. 4. Encourage appropriate musicChildren are often motivated to learn an instrument in response to a growing interest in popular music. But leveraging a child's desire to replicate the latest Ed Sheeran song as a mechanism for motivation can be a problem.While popular music can and should be part of any music education, the latest popular music isn't necessarily fit-for-purpose as a teaching tool. This can result in great harm – ranging from disappointment when the music is beyond the ability of a learner, to very real damage to the voice or fingers. My own research shows using popular music as a way to get children into music education might meet a market demand, but is not always in children's best interest. The adult environment that surrounds popular music sits awkwardly with a safe educational environment. Having a seven-year-old sing "Fever When You Kiss Me" strikes the wrong note. Parents should choose a qualified teacher with a well-articulated teaching philosophy that emphasises gradual learning. Avoid teachers who spruik instant success on Australian Idol and, particularly for younger children, parents should prohibit sexualised repertoire. Take an interest in the music your child learns. Get to know the names of the pieces they're learning and ask to hear them. 5. Value your child's musicLessons, exams and practice schedules are all very well, but ultimately music should be a shared activity. Don't always banish your child to their room to practise. Create an environment where music is a vital part of the household. Encourage your child to perform at family occasions. As they learn, empathise with their struggles and celebrate their triumphs. Never begrudge the money you spend on lessons and never, ever nag.
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