To Commit or Quit: A Six Part Introspective on Music Lessons

3 - Not Enough Exposure 

“I think we’re going to take a break from lessons for now”.   

“Well, why? 

“Frankie just doesn’t seem to have any interest in music” 

In the last installment, we learned that activities played a major role with parents stopping their child's music lessons.  But what about the child's interest level?

A few weeks ago I asked one of my violin students who is 14 years old and in 8th grade, if he listens to music.  He blankly stared at me for a couple of seconds and shrugged his shoulders.  I asked him if he likes music.  He responded with a monotone “yes”.  Now, it could’ve been he was too embarrassed to answer until I started mentioning artists like Katy Perry, Taylor Swift, and Beck.  He had a VAGUE recollection of who these people were.   

So we put down our violins and I took out my laptop from my bag, went to YouTube and we started listening to Johann Sebastian Bach’s Gavotte in G minor played by Hilary Hahn.  This was the piece that my student was currently working on.  I told him to follow along in his music.  After listening I asked him what he thought.  He was very impressed by her sound and ability to fleetly glide from one string to another.  At the conclusion of the lesson, I gave him a listening assignment where I wanted him to find four more recordings of the exact same piece played by different artists.  I wanted to see if he could discern their interpretations and also tell me which one was his favorite.   

The following week he came back to me almost anxious to show me the different recordings.  So we discussed them.  He played the piece again for me on his violin.  The difference was overwhelming.  Not so much from an academic standpoint where his technique improved, but there was feeling behind it now.  In the playing itself, there was a desire to be better and a desire to learn more.  He won’t outwardly express it.  He’s a young man of little words, but I can sense it in his playing. 

The moral of the story is for parents to expose their child to music outside of the lessons.  All kinds of music.  Classical, Jazz, Rock, Hip-Hop, R+B, Pop, World music, Cultural music, Soundtracks from shows, movies, video games.  It doesn’t take much effort to do this.  Show your child the methods in which you listened to music growing up.  Show them how a Walkman, CD player and a record player work.  Have your children read about different kinds of music.  Take them to a live show with professional musicians performing.  Take them to an orchestra concert.  See what’s around.  Don’t let their music lessons, private and in school be the only exposure they have to music. 

Let their teacher show them how to be an ACTIVE listener.  Not just listening to the lyrics, but listening to the sounds.  How they interact with each other.  Exploring different instrument combinations.  Talk to them about the sounds they like and the sounds they don’t like.   Have them develop an opinion without casting judgment.  The more they listen in conjunction with their lessons the better idea they will have at how music is constructed.  This way, they will have a way to mold their own progress to better tailor their instruction.  Listening to music outside of the lesson will highly increase the chances of the students sticking with music and developing quicker than those who aren’t. 

In addition, listening to music also has its health benefits.  An article by the huffingtonpost.com details a list of positive effects music has on the mind and body.  You can see the full article hereAlso, please check out the momlovesbest.com blog on the importance of music education for kids.  These are all points that steer children in a positive direction with proper exposure to music.  

Reducing stress, improving memory and heart health are just some of the reasons why everyone should listen to music on a regular basis. 

So turn off the iPad, computer, and TV and turn on the radio.  Get listening!  

What's the difference between intelligence and wisdom?  Which age groups have what?  Find out next time!