Tuesday, August 20, 2013

A Parent's Guide to Supporting Your Student Musician

You’ve wrapped up that back to school shopping and you're ready to send your child off to a new year of school. Because you know that music is important for your child’s overall education, you have made sure he or she is signed up for some type of school music. Don't stop there! Here are some more ways you can help make your child’s music education a success:
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  • Adequate supplies. Along with notebooks and pens, the music student must have supplies for their instrument. Buying reeds by the box helps save money in the long run. Make sure to have rosin, strings, valve or slide oil, cork grease, swabs, etc. depending on what instrument your child plays.

  • Instrument check up. If you haven’t already taken care of this, get it done ASAP! Pads wear out, valves get dented, mouthpieces need upgrading. Your local music store should be able to help you out. Instruments are a big investment! Find a qualified technician, not someone who just does it on the side.

  • Encourage achievement. Nothing feels better than getting an A+ on a paper. The equivalent in music class would be moving up in a section. What tops that? Achieving a superior rating at contest. Almost all schools participate in a music competition. Students are judged as a soloist, small or large ensemble. Encourage your child to participate from the first day of school! Find out the details from the teacher and begin preparations as soon as possible.

  • Find a tutor. Music, much like tennis or golf, requires developing specific skills to build technique. Finding a coach outside of the school band or choir is the best way to ensure that your child is developing to their full musical potential. It’s simply impossible for a choir director to work individually with each singer to bring out their voice. Likewise, a band director cannot manage a classroom and correct each student’s embouchure. A qualified private music teacher can correct these things, teach techniques to help overall playing and introduce music that the student wants to play and will improve with. Music camps can offer concentrated experiences that can’t be obtained anywhere else.

  • Share the interest. At its core, music is expression. One of the most important things a parent can do to encourage their child’s musical success is to share the interest. Find a concert that features the type of music your child is learning and take a group to listen to it. When your child has a concert, get there early and sit front and center. For the ultimate in sharing, consider taking lessons along with your child!

  • Homework. In order to get all the benefits that come from learning and playing music, regular practice must be a part of the student’s schedule. Practice time should include scales and studies on the student’s playing level, some challenging music as well as music that is being prepared in class. Private lessons offer the student more opportunity to explore their own musical interests since these lessons will be crafted for them as an individual.

I think back on the days when I was the student. My parents were not musicians. They were of the attitude, “If you like it, we’ll support you,” but they really didn't know how to support me musically. I wish someone had shared these tips with them. A solid music education will benefit your child in so many ways. Help them make the most of this opportunity! 

Guest contributor Fran Beaudry has over 30 years of experience as a clarinet player and music educator. Follow Fran on Twitter or book an online clarinet lesson with her on The ZOEN

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