5 tips for parents of beginner musicians

Rachel Staunton is a professional conductor who trained at London’s Royal Academy of Music. A passionate advocate for the benefits that a life lived with music can have for all young people, she shares 5 tips as a new parent of beginner instrumentalists from the mum-view. @RachelStaunton

Exposure is key 

It is never too young to start going to concerts or gigs! Look for relaxed performances if your kids are super young or wriggly, and get their developing brains used to music in all its beautiful different styles.  If your child shows an interest in a particular instrument, they are probably going to get stuck in much quicker. Set aside which instrument you would like them to learn and let them follow their interest! You can check out relaxed performances at the Royal Albert Hall,

Unpack the instrument for your child

Similarly with toys which are set up in an engaging way to entice them into good play, leaving your child’s instrument in an accessible place, all set up, tuned and ready to go will encourage regular practice sessions initiated by them. For those who are reluctant to practice between lessons, you can also try phrases like ‘by the time I boil these peas for dinner, can you play your new song to me?’. For more tips check out my friend Nate Holder’s book ‘I Wish I didn’t Quit Music Lessons

Practice does not always have to involve scales or playing through pieces

If your child wants to twiddle and make sounds with their instrument then encourage it. It is all part of practice and their exploration of the instrument, and them getting comfortable with how to create sound. Improvisation is also such a profound and creative way to get into music, so be quick to encourage experimentation. You might have the next jazz improvisation star, stand-up comedian or Proms composer in your offspring!

Take an active interest

This sounds obvious, but in the rush of life we can forget to simply sit and watch or listen (no phone in hand!) and be interested in our child’s development with music. Show up to that concert which contains 8 renditions of Twinkle Twinkle (!) and celebrate what your child is able to do without comparison. 

Join a Choir!

You might be surprised by this advice, and I might be biased as a choir conductor, but I think the best thing your child could do to support their development on an instrument is to sing! There are so many musical skills to pick up from singing in a group that it really helps accelerate the learning of an instrument. Check out your local choir, for example, London Youth Choirs.

Happy playing! 

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