Learning an instrument teaches children about delayed gratification. The violin, for example, has a steep learning curve. Before you can make a single sound, you must first learn how to hold the violin, how to hold the bow, and where to place your feet, Playing an instrument teaches kids to persevere through hours, months, and sometimes years of practice before they reach specific goals, such as performing with a band or memorizing a solo piece. "Private lessons and practicing at home require a very focused kind of attention for even 10 minutes at a time," Group lessons, in which students learn to play the same instruments in an ensemble, also improve patience, as children must wait their turn to play individually. And in waiting for their turns and listening to their classmates play, kids learn to show their peers respect, to sit still and be quiet for designated periods of time, and to be attentive.
It boosts self-esteem.
Lessons offer a forum where children can learn to accept and give constructive criticism. Turning negative feedback into positive change helps build self-confidence, Group lessons, in particular, may help children understand that nobody, including themselves or their peers, is perfect, and that everyone has room for improvement. "Presenting yourself in public is an important skill whether you become a professional musician or not," This skill is easily transferrable to public speaking, she adds. And, of course, once a child is advanced enough, she'll possess musical skills that will help her stand out.
It introduces children to other cultures.
By learning about and playing a variety of instruments, kids can discover how music plays a critical role in other cultures. For instance, bongos and timbales may introduce children to African and Cuban styles of music. Although the modern-day violin has roots in Italy, learning to play it exposes children to classical music popularized by German and Austrian musicians. Versatile instruments, such as the violin and piano, can accompany a wide repertoire of styles, including classical and jazz (which originated in the American South). It's important to familiarize children with other cultures at a young age because this fosters open-mindedness about worlds and traditions beyond the ones they know.
What to Consider When Selecting an Instrument
Ultimately, the instrument you and your child choose should depend on a number of factors. Here's a list of questions to consider before bringing home a new music maker:
· Is your child excited about the instrument? Does she like the way it sounds and feels? Some music schools offer a "petting zoo" that introduces kids to multiple instruments.
· Is the instrument too challenging or is it not challenging enough (for both you and your child)?
· Does your child's temperament match the instrument?
· Can you afford the instrument and the maintenance that comes with it?
· As a parent, do you like the sound enough to listen to your child practice it for hours at home?
· Is your child specifically interested in a particular music style? If so, factor that into your instrument choice, as some specifically cater to certain styles. For instance, a violin player will have a hard time fitting in a jazz ensemble.
Experts don't always agree on which instruments are best for big kids to learn, but many music teachers do agree that it's hard to go wrong with the piano, percussion (like the drum or xylophone), recorder, guitar, or violin.
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