14 Dec Does your child want to be a Rockstar?
Who didn’t want to be a rock star when they were growing up?
I myself had a short spell with the clarinet and a longer one with the recorder. I enjoyed the descant, but my favourite by far was the treble. How I looked forward to playing in the school concerts! I have recollections of my older brother playing the drums incredibly well as a teenager and more recently my son, now 19 years playing for seven years as a child. Personally, my dream when I was growing up wasn’t to be a rock star but if you’re a parent reading this blog then maybe it’s someone’s dream within your household! Brian May, best known as the lead guitarist of the rock band Queen started his love of playing with the Ukulele at the age of six. Did you know one of May’s best-known solo’s, ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ was voted no 29 by the readers of Guitar World (January 2007) into the “top 50 Greatest Guitar Solos of all time.”
So you child shows an interest in learning a musical instrument…. But which one should you choose? Experts agree that the piano is a great starting instrument, providing a solid foundation. Piano players tend to be quiet, inquisitive and analytical (www.creativesoulmusic.com) If a child tends to be a little restless, then playing percussion such as the drums, cymbals and timpani could be the perfect fit. Next to piano, the guitar is the most popular instrument for children to learn. Another instrument, like the guitar, that was mentioned previously, that belongs to the family of the stringed instruments is the Ukulele. Did you know that the Ukulele, or the Uke for short, is a four string, six string, eight string instrument and is originally from Portugal.
When asking colleagues at Jancett and JACE what musical instruments they may have played as a child, I found out some interesting facts. Suzie (HR Administrator) at the age of 10 took up the Ukulele. Suzie found the Ukulele a relaxing and jolly musical instrument to play. Keeley (Compliance Officer) at the age of 9, played the Ocarina. In case, like me, you haven’t heard of an Ocarina – it’s a small egg-shaped ceramic (especially terracotta) or metal wind instrument with holes for fingers.
By far the most popular instrument played by staff as a child at Jancett and JACE was the recorder; Mandy (bookkeeper), Tracy (managing director) Ingrid (childcare admin office / finance manager) along with Keeley and myself all played. Let’s go back to the question raised earlier in this blog ‘Which instrument is best for a child?’ Experts go on to say that the recorder, the flute and the clarinet are also in the top 10. Gail (JACE operations manager) learnt to play the piano (age 4), the French horn (age 8) and the trumpet (age 14). Occasionally Gail can be seen and heard playing the trumpet with her nephew! Ingrid also played other musical instruments; and learnt the violin, the cello and the piano when young. Ingrid believes that learning to play musical instruments taught her to be responsible, to be committed and gave her a sense of appreciation for music. As well as learning the recorder, Mandy also played the clarinet and keyboard (still plays) and feels the benefits include taking a pride in “getting it right” and learning to read sheet music.
What do the experts say about the pros and cons of raising musical children?
- through practice the child can learn to listen and hear sounds
- helps develop memory and boosts cognitive skills
- teaches the child to work, allocate his / her time, and set goals
- teaches patience and fosters creativity
- provides continuous learning
- reinforces language skills
- child may dislike having instrument lessons
- child may feel that the lessons interfere with normal childhood (being with friends, playing outdoors)
- lessons and buying musical instruments can be expensive – this was echoed by both Keeley and Ingrid too
- public performances and choosing the wrong instrument for your child can forever prevent a child from loving music
Our in-house nursery music teacher ‘Irani’ has been working with music throughout her life, singing and playing. Startel’s manager Claire recently asked Irani the following question:
“What do you feel are the values of learning a musical instrument as a child?” I quote Irani’s response: “the key benefits are an increase in confidence, especially in front of others, the child gets to socialise more if playing with a group / band and the child will form the ability to understand different types of sounds by listening and observing which can have a positive impact a development in later life.”
Parents ask, ‘What’s the right age for a child to learn a musical instrument?’ Evidence has suggested that 9 years of age is a promising window for introducing a musical instrument. Many teachers will not take students until they are at least five years of age. However, this does not mean that the child cannot start to learn before that. The general advice to parents is “expose children to as much music as possible from an early age.” (www.musictoyourhome.com)
Whilst writing this blog I decided to explore whether ‘learning to play a musical instrument, like the violin, could have a positive impact on the symptoms associated with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) or Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD)? Findings have shown that children who suffer from these disorders can gain fruitful benefits from music instruction, see www.connollymusic.com for further information.
Whilst my son no longer has drum kit tuition he did reflect, for the purposes of this blog, on his own experience of learning an instrument as a child. He told me:
- tuition and practice kept him busy
- his school appreciated it
- it made him more ‘well-rounded’
- it had some social benefits – like playing in the school band
My son believes it’s easy to “pick things up” as a child – he likened it to learning a language. He said the ‘enjoyment factor’ was probably the most important thing and that when you are older it’s a ‘cool’ characteristic to have if you play an instrument, especially the guitar or piano. He went on to say however, the downside can be that learning an instrument is time consuming at a high level but it’s the child’s choice to take lessons and learn an instrument so there’s no pressure and he concluded that it can be expensive too. Laura, (Playsafe Manager, Snapdragons) as well as Suzie both played the drums in their childhood too. Laura played in school productions throughout her primary years and felt the drums helped her with rhythm and confidence building. Tia (Playsafe Manager, Willows) still plays the drums today. The drums that Tia plays are the steel drums. These drums are a percussion instrument originating in Trinidad and Tabago, made of an oil drum with one end beaten down and divided by grooves into sections to give different notes.
Tia’s passion for the steel drums (or ‘pans’) is evident when I chat with her. She has been playing the ‘pans’ since the age of 15. Tia was introduced to playing the steel drums by her friends. It was a ‘social thing’ and she stated, in her own words, ‘it was cool’ so joined in and now 10 years later Tia plays in competitions and carnivals and couldn’t imagine a life without playing the ‘steel drums’. Tia plays with Panash-Steel Orchestra (https://panashsteel-uk.com) and 2018 marks the 35th anniversary of the formation of Panash. Panash are officially Croydon Council’s 2019 entry into the London New Years Day Parade. Children as young as 6 years old play with Panash and Tia like others who contributed to this blog firmly believes the advantages of playing the steel drums include: learn self-discipline; learn to read music and follow instruction; learn musical terms and start learning about rhythm and tempo and learn how to be part of a ‘steel band’ family.
Even though the competitions are fun and exciting the downside is there’s lots of rehearsals and if the band doesn’t come 1st, 2nd, 3rd place in a competition then you have to learn to be humble to others that have won. This in itself can be very upsetting and hard for the younger members of the band. Tia fondly told me that ‘children playing ‘pans’ come alive at competition (what a wonderful sight to see!) Do contact Panash for further information and / or to join by email: firstname.lastname@example.org and follow on Twitter @PanashsteelUK
In September 2019 we at Jancett and JACE look forward to hearing and seeing Panash Steel Orchestra play at our 50th Anniversary Celebratory in-house event.
Does reading this blog trigger thoughts in your head? Does it make you want to pick up on playing your instrument(s) again? Or you may like to learn how to play an instrument. Perhaps it could be one of your New Year’s Resolutions! I hear the words ‘You’re Never too Old’…. Perhaps you’d like to be a rock star!
Blog written by Nicky Hopper, Director, with contributions from her son and colleagues at Jancett and JACE
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