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Three Parenting Attitudes to Childhood Music Lessons

Wednesday, August 1, 2018 by Phillippa Cairns | Music, Parenting, Music Lessons

Three Parenting Attitudes to Childhood Music Lessons

Whether you’re a grade 8 musician or don’t know a crotchet from a quaver, your child could benefit from music lessons. Local Head of Music and mum of two, Phillippa of PJC Music School explains how your experience of music (or lack of) can influence your child.

After twelve wonderful years of teaching music both to my private students and in secondary schools, I have realised that when it comes to music lessons for their children, there are three types of parent:

1.The ‘pass it on’ parent

This type of parent was lucky enough to have music lessons themselves when they were younger, and wants their own child to experience the joy of being able to sing or play an instrument. They have fond memories of being in ensembles at school and making friends that grow out of the shared experience of rehearsing and performing together. They understand how music shaped them in their own lives; giving them confidence, a sense of identity and pride. They want their own children to understand the amazing benefits of hard work and to feel that satisfaction of seeing themselves improve. They recognise that their intelligence, success and interpersonal skills are a reflection of those music lessons and they want to pass on this incredible gift!

2. The ‘give them what I never had’ parent

I see a lot of these. Parents who, for whatever reason, didn’t get the opportunity to learn an instrument as a child and this makes them even more eager to give their own children those chances. This type of parent gets the most joy out of seeing their little ones progress. From the moment their child surpasses their own ability, the pride and awe that these parents experience is really very moving to witness. They really appreciate it when I send them videos of their child playing or singing in lessons, they cherish the moments when they see them performing live and they are always blown away when they bring home a piece of music that they have composed themselves.

3. The ‘but I’m tone deaf!’ parent

Now, this is an interesting one! This attitude almost always stems from fear. The parent might have had a bad experience with music lessons in the past, been told they weren’t musical or felt inferior and gave up quickly. This limited belief about their own musicianship is subconsciously transferred onto the next generation. The parent is fearful that their child won’t enjoy the lessons and won’t succeed or thrive in that environment. At the first sign of hesitation or difficulty from the child, the parent doesn’t encourage them to continue, but instead reinforces the idea that ‘our family are not musical’. To these parents I ask you this; what musical path would you have taken with another teacher or an alternative teaching style? What if you were consistently encouraged instead of criticised; given a safe and supportive learning environment with the freedom to express yourself, make mistakes and really enjoy your music? Would things have been different?

I am eternally grateful to my own parents, who were both in the ‘give them what I never had’ category. When my eldest son turned 4, I realised I had become a ‘pass it on’ parent. With this new found understanding of what would be the best learning environment for my own children, combined with over a decade of getting to know the wants and needs of my students and their families, I was inspired to create a brand new program of lessons in my music school.

The ‘Young Beginners’ program teaches piano and singing to ages 3-12, with a fun, engaging, group-based learning style.  These hour-long weekly sessions allow enough time to develop real skill, technique and repertoire while the variety of games and activities in this group dynamic enables focus and enjoyment with a love of music at its core! With this strong foundation, I am confident these students will progress through my music school from enthusiastic young beginners to creative and passionate grade 8 musicians- and perhaps one day will go on to be ‘pass it on’ parents themselves.

Places are available on the ‘Young Beginners’ program from September and take place in Baildon and at Horsforth School. Pre-book now and get one lesson FREE. 
Contact Phillippa at PJC Music School here