3 Common Mistakes to Avoid in Your Child’s Musical Journey
Imagine this… You’re walking past your neighborhood music store and your little one starts to insist on becoming the future Mozart. He pulls you by the hand to go inside. In your head, you quickly calculate the budget and figure that you can blow 200 bucks on a violin. Once you step inside the store, your budget suddenly expands. You realize that you’re going to spend at least $350, as you start evaluating your options. With a squirming toddler on one hand and three violin packages on the other, you quickly make the decision to go the budget route. You leave with a headache, thinner wallet and a proud toddler carrying a new instrument. Never would you suspect that your journey is only beginning!
– Spending less… is less. You get what you pay for.
Most make the logical choice of saving money, until they see tangible proof that their future prodigy is really inclined towards music. However, a bigger mistake can’t be made! A child’s most influential teacher, is the first teacher. This is where the whole set up, basis and habits are learned. Did you ever hear that it’s much harder to unlearn a bad habit than to learn a 1000 new habits? Old habits are hard to break. Many parents simply get a well-payed babysitter. Keep it simple and spend the most money on your child’s first teacher, attend every lesson, take notes and learn with them. Find the best university or orchestra that you can. Knock on doors and stalk that legendary teacher that teaches the college-level competition winners. Immediately follow their advice. Stay in touch with this wonderful pedagogue, because who knows, you may really have a prodigy on your hands. If that’s the case, you only want the best. Invest in good habits, so that you don’t have to spend more time and money fixing mistakes and tensions. Your child is more likely to stick to and breeze through the “beginner” phase, given the best tools and resources.
-Community music school is to commune… not to learn technique.
During my doctoral studies, I remember training teachers to teach in public schools.As a violinist by trade, I had to teach all string instruments. My students would typically spend two weeks on each (string) instrument and then be assigned to a public school district as the group music teacher. Do you really think that two weeks is enough to learn an instrument well enough in order to impart that knowledge to each child? Let me let you in a little secret. Two years wouldn’t be enough! That’s even not enough time to learn to hold an instrument properly. That’s why movie stars always look fake to a trained musician, regardless on how much money the movie companies spend in order to make their stars look realistic.
-Practice makes perfect… No. It doesn’t. Practice makes permanent.
Repetition can instill bad habits. That’s why, it’s of most importance to have a good teacher who understands that context is crucial. As musicians we hopefully learn to be artists, not technicians. It’s important to practice musicality in conjunction with technique, playing with others, composing, emotional/social intelligence and performing! No musician, no matter how talented, can step out on a stage and perform without practicing it first. Playing is not performing. Learning technique is not performing. Learning the context is performing. You have to learn how to interact with all the components of a performance: audience, nerves, stage conditions, weather, slippery sweat, blinding lights, health and all the foreseen and unforeseen that there is. The earlier you learn this and teach your child, the smoother your journey will be.
Becoming an artist is an exciting journey. It must not be spoiled by worry, shame and fear. Just as in life, the most important thing you can do, is to stay relaxed. Relaxation is your natural state, your soul. Nervousness and tension are simply the external pressures of who you think you have to be and what you have to know.
Go ahead… relax, and be who you are meant to be… a great parent.