Playing a musical instrument is a joy. But learning HOW to do so is all too often not particularly joy-filled. This poses a problem when trying to teach kids, especially in this age of instant gratification. Kids have a tendency (and so do many adults) to want to see it now – not later.
So, it’s hard to get and keep a kid’s attention. Couple this with knowing that in order to play any musical instrument well, a lot of practice and dedication is involved. Practicing is not inherently fun. In fact, it is generally tedious. There’s also peer pressure. If a child is learning to play an instrument that is not considered “cool” by his or her peers, that child will be teased.
I believe that you first have to capture kids’ attention. I also believe that kids should learn things in the beginning that makes them feel that they are accomplishing something real and tangible. Also, the very idea of learning how to play an instrument should be promoted heavily and passionately. Music is, in fact, an expression of passion. It is learned logically, but expressed passionately. Music is the universal language that crosses all boundaries of race, creed, color, and political affiliation. Lastly, I believe that for goodness sakes, make it as much fun as possible – on their level.
All of us involved in teaching music should try to figure out ways to get kids more and more involved in learning how to play musical instruments.
James Emery Vigh is an author and independent film maker who is passionate about teaching kids musical instruments. He has been a professional guitarist and music teacher for more than 40 years.