When I was little, musical instruments for kids were everywhere, or it felt like that….anyway. I played the Clarinet, and then the Oboe, having tried the Piano and struggled because my hands were a bit dumpy and I wasn’t too good at sitting still. With all of them, I didn’t reach any great level of achievement; I was never going to be impressing Simon Cowell, or the classic equivalent with my talents. However, I loved it, and it taught me a hell of a lot about myself and the world around me.
It pained me to read that, according to Arts Council England’s Take it Away scheme, which was set up to provide interest free loans to parents for musical instruments, nearly a third (29.1%) of parents can’t afford for their children to learn to play an instrument because of the cost of buying them.
There are many reasons why playing an instrument, even from a young age, is a wonderful thing for both children and parents.
In my experience, learning an instrument can:
- Increase understanding of music generally; whether it’s an ability to read music, or to develop rhythm, there is nothing like learning to play to help with both
- Offer social interaction; music can be a solitary pastime, granted, but a lot of performance and practice is within a group or orchestra. I found my music helped me overcome my shy nature and gave me a focus for meeting new people. Now look at me (…ahem…)
- Improve reactions to public performance; learning to play an instrument in front of a teacher isn’t necessarily something that comes naturally to some. Doing so can help people to reduce nerves when they “perform” in front of others, particularly if the lessons lead to performing in public with an orchestra or a band
- Help team skills and co-operation; you work with a teacher, which is a small team, and beyond that – well there are bands and orchestras where children will see how their small part makes a difference to the total sound created. A wonderful thing to learn from an early age
- Expose children to other cultures; depending on the teaching, music is a window into other cultures, and can be used as a means to help understand them more
- Help children understand their own emotions; music is emotive – fact. It creates moods depending on its tempo, the instruments involved and the skill of the musician. Learning to understand this can help children to be more aware of their own emotions, and to understand the communicative power of music
- Improve discipline and concentration; children need to practice their instrument. Doing so every week improves their ability to stick at a task, and most importantly the results of their practice can be clearly seen (or heard!) by teachers and parents alike. It’s a very tangible result of their diligence, offering a wonderful opportunity for positive praise
- Stop parents from going completely doolalee; my daughter has a recorder. I wanted to give her access to music at an early age. I need her to learn how to play it, or even better somethine else, properly, otherwise I may have to create a sound proof room in the attic #thatisall.
It would be terrible if talent and enthusiasm were wasted because of the problems with buying instruments for kids in this tough economic environment; which is why an organisation like Take it Away can be invaluable to those that would like to nurture their children’s talents, without resorting to having to go to the bank to get loans to help.
If your child does want to test out what might be best for them there is also a Learn to Play Day on 16th March here in the UK when music shops across the country give free taster sessions for anyone who wants to have a go. You might was well join in, as you will, I am sure, be able to hear where its all happening fairly easily anyway!
Not to mention the amount of parental sanity saving going on with younger kids being able to learn something a little more challenging, and slightly more pleasant on the ear drums that the descant recorder….
Though you might have to take a little bit of Violin scrapping every now and then – for the good of the next generation you understand…! ;-)
What do you think of musical instruments for kids? Particularly younger children? Do you encourage your little one to listen to and learn about music? Do they play an instrument? If so, what? And how have you funded it? Do let us know below.