The Importance of Perseverance: Parents and Children in Music Education
Embarking upon the journey of having your children learn music can, at times, be somewhat of a daunting task. A multitude of questions arise of course. At what age do we begin music education? How will our child react if it is difficult? How much money and time will we commit to this portion of our child’s education? All of those questions can be answered on an individual basis; however, in order to have your child truly succeed in music education, these questions must be secondary to the overall goal of helping your child to succeed in life with a well-rounded education, that will lead to his being a well-rounded individual.
When it comes to learning music, the concepts cannot be rushed. Music must be given its proper due, an opportunity to reach inside and transfigure one that embraces it. Music can lead to children becoming truly “noble” in a world where the nobleness of a person has somehow become lost and forgotten. Children can be empowered by the knowledge that they worked hard, perservered,and accomplished something they set out to do. The successes of a child that has forged through difficulties and continued even when he didn’t enjoy something, will undoubtedly be greater than the success of a child that quits when times get rough.
A great musician and musical educator, Shinichi Suzuki, has created the Suzuki method of music instruction and immersion. His method works to inspire children of all ages to embrace how music can truly change them. In his book Nutured by Love: The Classic Approach to Talent Education, he reminds us of the hard work required to succeed in music: “to make a resolution and act accordingly is to live with hope. There may be difficulties and hardships, but not disappointment or despair if you follow the path steadily. Do not hurry. This is a fundamental rule. If you hurry and collapse or tumble down, nothing is achieved. Do not rest in your efforts; this is another fundamental rule. Without stopping, without haste, carefully taking a step at a time forward will surely get you there.”
Whatever age you begin playing an instrument or expose your child to it, a fortituous attitude about perservering is an absolute must. Playing instruments can expose children to frustrations that they don’t find in other subjects or activities. This is not something to be shyed away from. Playing the piano, guitar, violin. etc., is all about overcoming these frustrations and challenges. It involves thinking through problems and finding creative ways to approach and solve them. Music lessons are good reminders of life lessons, as children will learnthrough them how to navigate challenges.
Parents must take the initiative in the beginning of music education. This can begin by forming the mentality that children must be immersed in music, not simply exposed to it. Parents should relish in the opportunity to be good assitants in their child’s music education. Learning the basics of music can help parents to encourage their child to progress in his/her musical aptitude. Take courage in knowing that you’re helping your child accomplish something great! As Suzuki put it: “Anything you think of doing, however insignificant, should be done immediately. Spur yourself on and carry it through without becoming discouraged. If this becomes an ingrained habit, things you thought were impossible will become possible, and closed doors will open, as you will discover in many ways.” Also, parents should strive to remember the importance of the process, not simply the end product. While there are certifications, music degrees, and opportunities for your child to continue in music as they get older, the process of learning music and the benefits gleaned are what must be the focus.
The advantages of music education are endless. It has been proven that children that study music do better with all other forms of education. There is also a strong correlation with less drug and alcohol abuse. Musicians’ brains develop extra neural pathways, especially if music is introduced at a young age. Music has been used to help treat ailments, including Parkinson’s and Alzheimers. It is a powerful tool for spreading joy to congregations of worshipers, members of nursing homes, and more. In many ways, music helps people find their true selves. In his book, Suzuki put it best, “As I have said before, I had no illusions about my performing ability. But I did not know that my despair was brought about not because I had no talent but because I did not know how to develop it.”
Studies have also indicated that musical training helps provide a positive stimulus to the parts of the brain involved in processing language and reasoning. Learning an instrument can also enhance motor skills. Having to read notes and correlate this information to one’s hands gives musicians great hand-eye coordination. Group music lessons can help in social development by encouraging cohesiveness. Performances, practice, ensemble activities and examinations aid to build discipline and increase self-confidence in the students. By going through the various stages of learning music, students also learn commitment and the value of accomplishing tasks they set out to complete. Children learn more than just how to play an instrument when they are given ample opportunity to be exposed to music. Suzuki believes that the lessons learned from music translate into life: “teaching music is not my main purpose. I want to make good citizens. If children hear fine music from the day of their birth and learn to play it, they develop sensitivity, discipline and endurance. They get a beautiful heart.”
Through music education, the hope would be that both parent and child discover an internal love and appreciation of music as an art form. Both will have worked hard and put in the hours and diligence to learn the craft, but more importantly, to experience the transformation that music can create. As a child begins to appreciate the skill, he/she has actively worked to progress at, a great sense of pride will be found in parent and child alike. The end goals of exposure to music or certification in musical education will go by the wayside, and the child will be left with the strong reminder that he or she accomplished something, grew from it, fell in love with it, and is a better individual because of it.