IDEAS FOR THE SUMMER
Music has the ability to accompany all aspects of our lives. Not only have I performed music for christenings, brisses, weddings, anniversaries, bar mitzvahs, governmental gatherings, private dinners, and various and sundry celebrations, I have also been asked to perform at funerals and memorial services.
We parents of children in school tend to arrange our lives according to the beginning and ending of school. The month before school ends is particularly challenging. Extra end-of-year projects and homework may be piled on students. New sports seasons of soccer, baseball, kickball, tennis, etc., are gearing up and everyone seems to be running here & there getting a steady build up of stress.
Under these circumstances many younger kids, who have not yet developed a correct sense of time and schedule, get lost in the comings and goings. Since they cannot track the obligations, they have no choice but to surrender their will to the parent – the manager of schedules. The result of this dynamic is often forgetfulness (they are not responsible for remembering), disengagement (events are out of control) and loss of motivation to self-initiate activities – like guitar playing (why start something that is going to be interrupted?). These tendencies may be compounded by the fact that other activities such as sports or vacations are taking over and the musical activity becomes secondary in the life of the family.
We know that after the compression of May there will be the decompression of June, the languidity of July and the compulsion to squeeze as much play out of August as possible before school starts again. So the aspiration to make summer a good time to “get back on track” with music study can easily be victimized. Seasons do not improve diligence but can be used as excuses for the lack of it. Only commitment can carry through the vagaries of “time on your hands.” However your commitment may have to take on a “summer flair.”
If you have made a commitment to the musical development in your child, then you needn’t worry. Music education is not seasonal like sports but is a year-round endeavor and should be able to withstand the onslaught of temporarily competitive priorities – especially in families where it has been valued. Your child’s musical interest will continue if you demonstrate your commitment.
Here are some ideas to rejuvenate and reinforce the musical presence in your household during this time and on into the summer:
√ Take the guitar when you travel. If you have a large car or van, let the child play in the car if its safe. Don’t discard the possibility of your child practicing on those road trips. One family I know takes long trips in the summer and practices at rest stops!
√ If you have a road trip with a sports team, bring the guitar! Other kids will want to play it. This will encourage your child – who actually knows what to do with the instrument – to play it.
√ Plan on attending live performances. (Among instructors interviewed about their childhood musical experiences, all said that attending live performances with their family was significant in their interest development.
√ Encourage a lengthy practice at least once a week.
√ Find time for the child to practice before the lesson. It really helps. Come early.
√ Put a set of flash cards (from the back of the Reading Book) in every vehicle. Participate in flash card activities before the lesson.
√ Bring a church hymn book home and have the child play around with some of that music.
√ Have the student participate in a music contest or challenge.
√ Make a videotape of a recital for the grandparents to bring on that summer visit.
√ Have the student burn a mix CD of their favorite music. How about burning a mix CD of the student’s repertoire from the Tunes CDs! You have our permission.
√ Have the student write a song for his or her sports team. Your instructor can put it to music.
√ Attend a camp for music or guitar. (See: midamericaguitarcamp.org)
√ When traveling, visit a music store in a far away destination and let your child play the instruments. Childbloom students often get many positive strokes from music store personnel who can’t believe their ears.
There are many reasons we learn to play music. One is to accompany our life – in all its facets and all its seasons. Enrich your life by allowing your child to do so.
KEVIN TAYLOR is Founder of the Childbloom Guitar Program.
©2005 The Childbloom Co.