While teaching piano lessons to young children I have learned that one VERY IMPORTANT question to ask parents who inquire about lessons is , “Do you listen to music yourself?” Another equally important question is “Do you listen to music with your child/children?”
I am often amazed and disappointed at how many kids start taking piano lessons and do not consistently intentionally listen to music or have music played in the home. How can you get excited about playing music if you never even hear music? The most rewarding music making experiences come from being able to play familiar songs. That requires having songs that are familiar to the student. When a student can come to the lesson and say, I’d like to learn how to play this or that song, or I heard a song over the weekend that I really like, then the lesson can get really fun really fast! And of course if the student is practicing music that others in the family enjoy, it definitely makes the practicing more bearable. So in addition to finger exercises and piano pieces, I often make listening to music part of my students’ weekly things to do for piano. There are many great resources for finding music to listen to. Here are a few:
Go skating!! You will hear hit songs back to back while enjoying skating.
Go to the movies!! Again, you will hear hit songs and also classical music sometimes. You will hear orchestral works and piano music.
Go to church!! A choir might sing, or praise team, or even a famous guest artist. And of course you can see musicians perform live!
Go to a concert!!
Go to a musical!!
Go to your basement, or wherever you keep your old music collection. Have your kid / student listen to some of these. You will be surprised at how much they enjoy it. If you have especially skeptical kids, just pop some carefully selected songs in your CD player or ipod. Look for titles that have been remixed and your kids will be so shocked that the music they thought was new is really old!
Of course you can always simply turn on the radio!
Whatever you do, by all means expose your child to some music everyday!