I wanted to write something dedicated towards helping the families of many of my younger students. I get asked all the time: “What should I be doing to help my child keep their interest in playing guitar, or music in general?”, “How should we support our child while they are getting started with a new instrument?”, “What kind of music should we start exposing to our child more regularly?”.
First and foremost, I think that the best students are much more than the initial talent or interest they show in learning how to play a musical instrument. Real progress with young music students always tends to come from families invested in what their child is doing!
Parents who are:
• Reassuring to their children when they hit a musical roadblock when learning a new technique
• Who invest their time and energy towards helping their child get the right tools and materials to be successful
• Who can encourage them to have a dedicated practice schedule always win out over more initially “talented/gifted children” in the long run.
Following these steps will help your child progress much faster than most other music students, and will secure their interest in music for many years to come!
As for extra things you can do for your child to keep their interest peaked I recommend:
• Taking them out for regular concerts and or live music events. Getting your child interested in seeing live music will expand their musical vocabulary and help them understand that being a great performing musician isn’t an unattainable superpower, it’s something real and grounded. I would take them to a variety of styles of shows to expose them to as much as possible. You never know what will inspire them. I also strongly recommend you taking them to see musical groups who improvise regularly so they can see that side of music being created spontaneously in person.
• Introduce them to your home record collection, or start building your own music library. One of the things that really helped me grow as a young musician was the access I had to all kinds of music at home growing up. My family had a very large record collection, and I was encouraged to go through it whenever I fancied. This made a huge difference in my life. Without it I would have never discovered the Rolling Stones, Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, Prince, Pink Floyd, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, or U2! It also armed me with a certain amount of knowledge and constant inspiration so when I walked into my first music lesson I knew what I wanted to focus on. I recommend introducing your children to a local record store and let them browse through artists’ selections and buy some of the music they are interested in. If that’s too low fi for you, I recommend setting up an Apple Music or Spotify account for your child, so they can have access to whatever music they fancy through streaming.
• Ditch the Ear Buds! Lastly, you should give your child every opportunity to be able to fully immerse themselves in music. That means throwing away those awful sounding earbuds that come shipped with every cell phone today, and buying your child a proper pair of over the ear headphones. Asides from looking incredibly cooler, over the ear headphones provide a much more detailed frequency response for the listener. This means your child will hear songs the way they were meant to be heard! All the tone from bass lines, the high crash of drum cymbals and high hats, and the full spectrum of a singer’s voice throughout the arrangement of a piece! Brands I recommend are AKG 240s Studio reference headphones, Audio Technica ATH M50’s, or Wired in Beats by Dre. Whatever you do, do not purchase wireless headphones. Wireless headphones lead to signal degradation which will lower the quality of what they are hearing.
• If you really want to step it up purchase a high-quality audio DAC or Digital to Analogue Converter. This device will take any digital streaming file and bump up the audio quality to high quality analogue levels. It essentially takes your music streaming to the highest level possible and will give your headphones the best source material available to listen on. They really can make a fantastic difference in what you and your child hear!
I hope these suggestions have helped give you some examples of how you can help your child when he or she expresses an interest in music.