Monday 11 April 2011

Is your child ready to have a musical instrument? Guest post by Taraneh Guidry

Every school year there is a sign up for Band or Orchestra.

So many choices these days. There are dozens of instruments to choose from. If this is the first year that the child gets to choose what instrument that they want to play, it's important to look at the big picture when making such a big decision.

If your child is entering 4th grade, some school districts offer Band and/or Orchestra. Other districts start Band and Orchestra in 5th or 6th grade. It's also just as acceptable to start your child in Band or Orchestra in 7th grade. Often it's difficult to know when your child is really ready for the responsibility that goes along with having an instrument and the extra practice needed to succeed in Band. Sometimes it's better to wait until the child is more stable in their schoolwork, and also at a responsible stage in their development before introducing an instrument to them.

Here are some things to think about when trying to decide if your child is ready for Band or Orchestra.

Are they responsible? Does your child do their chores? Do they clean their room and get all of their homework done on time? If you can't answer yes to all of these, perhaps it's better to wait to get an instrument.

Musical Instruments such as clarinets and saxophones use reeds. These reeds can get lost or broken if left out on the floor and someone steps on them. Musical instruments also have many parts. It's important to make sure that they are responsible enough to put the instrument parts in the case every night.

Does your child often lose expensive toys such as cell phones or portable video games? If so, then they most likely aren't mature and responsible enough yet to take care of their musical instruments and not lose them as well. 

Is it difficult for you to get your child to do their homework every night? Are they often found watching TV or playing video games instead of doing their homework? Practicing an instrument is something that your child needs to commit to playing for at least 20 to 30 minutes every night. If your child won't even do their regular homework, how are they going to practice their instrument every night? After a few weeks the instrument won't seem as new or exciting. It is often difficult for chores and homework to compete with all of the electronic options such as the Internet, YouTube, Facebook, Video Games and TV. When musical instrument practicing becomes another thing that they have to do, then it is often something that they will procrastinate doing, just like homework. 

Make sure that your child isn't also doing too many other activities. If your child already has a full plate of other activities such as swim lessons, karate classes, soccer, tennis, baseball or any number of afterschool activities, then they may not have enough time or energy to commit to practicing an instrument.

Although your child may beg to get a musical instrument and want to sign up for band or orchestra because all of their friends are, make sure that they are mature and responsible enough to add another activity on. Usually musical instruments are a one year commitment. If they choose to drop out during the middle of the year, then they may not be able to get into alternate classes. So it's a big decision, and it's important to weigh all of the pros and cons. 

Learning an instrument is great, especially when your child is ready and committed to learning to play an instrument. Make sure that you are also able to attend all of their concerts if you do end up signing up for Band or Orchestra. You will be their biggest fan, and it's important for parents to commit to showing support of their children's musical activities as well.

This article is by Taraneh Guidry a writer for TeachStreet.  TeachStreet is a website dedicated to providing online and local classes as well as piano lessons and guitar lessons.

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