HOw do you get a kid interested in music instruments?


#1

I've got a 7-year old, a piano, a ukulele and a mandolin.

How do I get him into it? Self-motivation seems important, but I'd guess jump-starting is a part of it, too.

What seems to work?


#2

Do you play them? If so, play them when he is around ask him to join you, etc.

Teach him a few basic things informally. Make music time a family activity with playing, singing, tapping along or whatever.

Then if he's not interested in learning to play, then let him find what he does want to do. Maybe that's sports, martial arts, painting, singing, or something else entirely. It doesn't have to be musical instruments. He'll tell you what he's interested in.

What is the motivation behind "getting him into it?"


#3

When I was about that age my mom announced that she was hiring a piano teacher to give my brother and me lessons. We really didn't have a say in the matter. I loved it and kept with it for the next 5 years (and I would love to pick it back up again someday), but all my brother wanted to do was watch TV to the exclusion of all other activities so he stopped after about 6 months.

So, getting him started in music is a great idea but only time will tell whether he'll develop a genuine interest in it. If music is an important part of your family's life it might help the chances.

What is the motivation behind "getting him into it?"

I think it's good to give children a chance to participate in the arts. Some develop lifelong loves of music, dance, art etc. from childhood experiences with them. It's also a confidence builder and an all-around good activity for them to be involved in. It sure beats having a kid do nothing but watching TV or playing video games all day!


#4

[quote="1ke, post:2, topic:219013"]
Do you play them? If so, play them when he is around ask him to join you, etc.

Teach him a few basic things informally. Make music time a family activity with playing, singing, tapping along or whatever.

Then if he's not interested in learning to play, then let him find what he does want to do. Maybe that's sports, martial arts, painting, singing, or something else entirely. It doesn't have to be musical instruments. He'll tell you what he's interested in.

What is the motivation behind "getting him into it?"

[/quote]

I agree with this. Let him find a niche, introduce him to music and the instruments but offer him opportunities to explore other activities as well. I always thought my daughter would play an instrument and be a dancer, but swimming is her passion. That only happened by taking her to swimming lessons.

Just make sure to let him "guide" you a bit. I wouldn't pressure him or force him into anything he doesn't find interesting, but you can certainly tell him he's not going to be a couch potato either and he needs to find a hobby or interest but you're willing to try various activities until he finds something he has a natural talent or inclination for.


#5

Better question.

Why is this important to you?


#6

Re: the ukulele... do NOT show him a video of Tiny Tim singing "Tip-Toe Thru The Tulips"!!! :bigyikes:


#7

Limit TV and video games, these will definitely upstage the instruments. Music cannot compete with electronics because practice is work, and most children want to avoid work. One more thing: Just start with the piano. I'd put the mandolin away and leave the ukulele around for the child to "play with" so to speak. Piano first.


#8

[quote="Captain_America, post:1, topic:219013"]
I've got a 7-year old, a piano, a ukulele and a mandolin.

How do I get him into it? Self-motivation seems important, but I'd guess jump-starting is a part of it, too.

What seems to work?

[/quote]

I think the above got it wrong, as a teen who recently quit the Violin after being forced to play it for for years after a year of playing it. I think you should ask him what kind of music he likes, like, orchestral, or organ, or electronica, or folk. Then ask him if he would like to try to play an instrument from that sound. If he likes electronica, ask him if he wants a synthesizer for Christmas. If he likes, say, pop, ask him if he wants to try software music (this is NOT actually a good idea if you want him to learn an instrument, because very few people count software music as a legit instrument) on mommy or daddy's computer.

If he seems interested in one or more instruments, rent or buy it/them. I highly recommend NOT limiting his only choices to those three instruments. Also, let him start at his own pace - buy him some basic music books, show him some computer videos, or teach him yourself if he wants and you have the knowledge. Even if you just spent $20000 getting a glass harmonica (which, I might add, is a ridiculously expensive instrument), under no circumstances force him to practice - NOW is the time, if he loses interest, to start playing the instrument in front of him. Once he seems truly interested, it's time to speed things up - ask him if he wants to keep self teaching, or have a tutor. Regardless of which he chooses, allow him to play what he wants and only start cracking down about practice when he's REALLY into it. This is the best way to make him genuinely interested, in my experience of hating the violin and loving the keyboard.


#9

. . . my reasons aren't sinister. Music is fun. It's an added dimension to life.

So I'm asking him to join the game.

I can very well appreciate the value of self-motivation, you know. That's the engine that's the best. I took piano lessons as a child, intensely boring and disinteresting. . . I think this was chiefly because I wasn't too interested in playing the kinds of songs you find in music books, invented stuff you'd never heard before and, once you did, would have no interest in playing.

But find a song you like, and you find it enjoyable to play.

My son does sports. In 2010 America, sports are unavoidable and in your face. Too much credit is given to sports, I believe (says the old college letterman here). They hardly do all the wonders accredited to them. But sports can be fun, done in the right spirit, no doubt. In fact, I coach in the summer a bit.


#10

Well it doesn't have to be just sports, or playing an instrument. What if he's a singer instead? Or an artist? Or a dancer? Or a writer? Or even a carpenter, that worked out pretty well for Joseph and Jesus. I think the point some of us is making is that you can lead the child to the instrument, but you can't force him to play. Sorta like the horse and water cliche.


#11

Oh, I should mention that a careful parent should disagree with the idea that one should let one's child entirely guide the process.

You do that at suppertime, and all you'll eat is candy! Human beings have a tendency to go for immediate gratification, the easy things, when, as we all know, sometimes the best things in life take a while to understand, warm up to and appreciate.

If you don't stretch yourself a bit, you won't have much muscle.


#12

Music lessons at 7. Grunge band by 17.


#13

I can think of several factors that help:

  • Play music (records) at home for them, sit and listen to them, not just as background music

  • Play an instrument yourself

  • Take the kids to hear live music when the opportunity presents itself

If they do ask to learn to play something and you start down the path of lessons, make sure they practice every day (no matter how much they complain). Practice is the only way to get better, they will only enjoy music if they improve over time. I have never met anyone who complained later in life that their parents made them take up an instrument.

Once into lessons, make sure that there is some component of recital / concert / public performance to it - even at the most basic level. It is useful to conquer fear of playing and kids thrive on the positive attention (applause) and they get to see the payoff for all that practicing you made them do.


#14

[quote="Pieman333272, post:8, topic:219013"]
.... Regardless of which he chooses, allow him to play what he wants and only start cracking down about practice when he's REALLY into it. This is the best way to make him genuinely interested, in my experience of hating the violin and loving the keyboard.

[/quote]

I agree with what you said here, too, about choosing the instrument - within reason let the child pick, but having said that, I think there are some instruments that "start" easier than others - keyboards or piano being an example. The piano sounds good the first note you ever play, a cornet or trumpet - not so much - until they build up their "lip". Ditto for guitars and small hands. I kind of disagree with you about making the kid practice, however. I let my kids choose the instrument, but we have a rule that they have to practice everyday - just like doing homework or chores. To make it a little more bearable for them, I will sit and listen sometimes while they practice and I make it a point to tell them when they played something particularly well, or when I hear improvement.


#15

[quote="bluerose, post:6, topic:219013"]
Re: the ukulele... do NOT show him a video of Tiny Tim singing "Tip-Toe Thru The Tulips"!!! :bigyikes:

[/quote]

Show him Jake Shimabukuro...

youtube.com/watch?v=puSkP3uym5k


#16

I got a fever, and the only prescription is more cowbell.

Seriously though... start out with some basic instruments. If he doesn't like slapping a simple percussion instrument along with his favorite songs, chances are he's not going to take interest in a violin yet, either.


#17

I find it interesting that so many people on this thread haven't been particularly encouraging about kids learning an instrument. I would put a basic musical understanding as one of those useful life skills everyone should have. I'm not saying everyone should have years and years of lessons and be expected to have amazing skills or anything, but a basic introduction is a good thing.

I started piano in kindergarten and took it through 5th grade. Starting in 5th grade I played viola in the school orchestra through graduation. I was never particularly good at any of it, but I have the ability to figure out songs, and I enjoy playing for fun. Did I love lessons and practicing? Not even close, there were plenty of time my parents had to make me, but looking back I'm glad they did. I'm glad that I can sit down and play when I want and that I can read music (3 clefs even!).

As for how to encourage it in your son, I agree with what some of the other posters have said, setting a good example and simply having lots of music around the house would be a good start. I would find a good piano teacher and try some lessons and see how that goes.


#18

When I was a kid, my mom made me take piano lessons and I hated it. I don't know why. It probably had something to do with my Aspergers. It wasn't something I was interested in and nothing, no matter what, could change that.


#19

I am the chair of a youth music competition in my city. I also play the piano. I started piano lessons when I was in third grade, and have never regretted continuing to play.

For me, the desire to play the piano came when I attended VBS in second grade and watched the pianist accompany the group singing. She was a wonderful accompanist and did all kinds of things to make the music fun for us; e.g., making the keys "crash" when the "house came a-tumblin' down."

So one good possibility is to get your child involved with a children's choir where he will see a good accompanist. There is probably such a choir in your town or city, or if you're lucky, at your church.

I play for children's choirs, and often children will come up and ask how long it takes to learn to play as good as I do. Obviously they're interested.

Another suggestion is to get your child involved in group lessons rather than getting a single teacher. Use this "peer pressure" to get your child interested and keep him interested. Your child will make friends with other young musicians, and these friends will keep him coming back for more music.

I agree with the suggestion to take your child to see concerts, but pick your concerts carefully. There are concerts that will put a child to sleep and make them swear off music forever! And then there are concerts that are especially played with children in mind. Our local symphony orchestra just did a "horror music" concert (for Halloween) where all the famous "scary" music was played. I believe the musicians dressed up in costume, and there were all kinds of treats and fun things for the kids. This is the kind of concert that will make a child want to be a musician.

As a child continues to learn their instrument, look for opportunities for him to play it for others as a service. Church is the perfect place. I believe that children SHOULD play for Mass--they can start out by learning the simple pieces and play the right hand while the regular pianist plays the left hand. They can just play one piece to begin with. And then they can work their way up. When children see that music is useful, they are motivated to continue to improve.

Finally, as a child gets more experienced in their instrument, I highly recommend competitions. There are all kinds of competitions. Some are very intense, while others are more uplifting for a child. Competitions motivate a child to practice and stick with their instrument. They also prepare a child for auditions and other public playing opportunities.


#20

[quote="KarenElissa, post:17, topic:219013"]
I... I would put a basic musical understanding as one of those useful life skills everyone should have. I'm not saying everyone should have years and years of lessons and be expected to have amazing skills or anything, but a basic introduction is a good thing....

[/quote]

:yup:
I feel sorry for the musically illiterate.

I agree with what others wrote about playing an instrument yourself. They often follow our examples. Seven is old enough to take piano lessons, so if you want your child to learn teh piano, sign him up! If you aren't ready to commit to lessons, then you can also get some child friendly toy instruments to play, either alone or along with music cd. These are fun ideas:
ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41YVUWkduwL.AA100.jpg
ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41CImwsW5LL.SL500_SS75.jpg + ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/412I1-nJ10L.SL500_SS100.jpg + ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41N-xdqHv1L.SL500_SS100.jpg


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