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Cellist Leah Wyber (Medicine Hat native) leads a cello masterclass in her alma mater, the Medicine Hat College Conservatory

Music Resources for Parents

Frequently Asked Questions

The National Arts Centre receives a lot of questions from parents taking an active interest in their child's musical education and development. We are happy to provide advice and assistance whenever we are able.

Questions:

  1. How do I know if my child possesses musical talent?
  2. What is the right age for my child to start music lessons?
  3. How do I find a teacher?
  4. Where can I get an instrument?
  5. My child needs an accompanist for an upcoming performance, where do I find one?
  6. My child is having trouble staying motivated and wants to quit. Is there anything I can do to help?
  7. None of my child's friends take music lessons and he is feeling isolated. I'm worried he might quit. Do you have any advice?
  8. Besides music lessons, what other activities can I explore to support music in my child's life?
  9. What other benefits will music studies have for my child?
  10. I'd like to advocate for more music education at my child's school, but don't how to begin. Do you have any resources to help me?

Answers:

  1. How do I know if my child possesses musical talent?
    Being a Suzuki teacher, I believe that all kids can develop musical ability even to a very high level without necessarily being talented. That said, if the child sings a lot, seems to be able to hear songs once and repeat them, seems to be able to sing well in tune, chances are he/she will have an easier time learning an instrument than many others. If he/she doesn't sing in tune, but really loves singing and loves music, all the more reason for music lessons!
    - Leslie Wade, Suzuki violin teacher
  2. What is the right age for my child to start music lessons?
    It is a great idea for children to start early enough to take advantage of the keenness of their ear. Experts say that this is before the age of 8. Readiness for formal lessons varies from child to child and depends on the instrument they wish to study. Children as young as two years old can begin lessons if a parent is involved with that child's lessons and daily practice. Beginning a child that young takes enormous patience and a very playful approach to learning from both teacher and parent. Any time after the age of 7, if the child is somewhat disciplined in his or her approach to schoolwork and can commit to daily practice, music lessons can begin without the involvement of a parent in lessons and practice.
    - Leslie Wade, Suzuki violin teacher
  3. How do I find a teacher?
    Please consult the Parents section of our Weblinks for useful sites on this topic.
  4. Where can I get an instrument?
    Discuss with your child and his or her teacher whether you want to buy an instrument or rent it. Depending on what you decide, you can consult the yellow pages for local instrument dealers and music stores. Make sure to research before you make a commitment and shop around for greater choices in prices and quality.

    More advice at the following link:
    www.bbc.co.uk/music/parents/learninganinstrument/index.shtml
  5. My child needs an accompanist for an upcoming performance, where do I find one?
    Try asking your child's teacher or telephone a local music teacher association, the local university music department or a church as their choirs often have accompanists.
  6. My child is having trouble staying motivated and wants to quit music. Is there anything I can do to help?
    Speak with your child about the situation; is there anything that you can help to change (ie provide more practice time, change teachers, offer a reward system etc)? Also, speak with the teacher.

    Here is some additional advice for motivating your child:
    www.pianoeducation.org/pnomotiv.html

    Find out what Amanda Forsyth, NAC Orchestra principal cellist did when, as a teenager, she wanted to quit playing her instrument. Watch the video or read the transcript of her interview.
  7. None of my child's friends take music lessons and he is feeling isolated. I'm worried he might quit. Do you have any advice?
    I've got lots of advice for your child!
  • Have a music party! Invite friends from the neighbourhood and school or church who also play instruments, and include others that don't. Play musical games (like musical chairs) with kids making the music for the games. Have a concert during the party and serve some good treats. I know of a family that does this every month!
  • Take your instrument to school and play for your class (pianists could bring a keyboard).
  • Call a senior's residence and ask if you can perform a concert, or call a hospital and inquire about playing for patients.
  • Ask your teacher if she or he has other student that you could play duets with, or is able to suggest ways to join a chamber group.
  • Join the orchestra! Join a choir!

    - Leslie Wade, Suzuki violin teacher
  1. Besides music lessons, what other activities can I explore to support music in my child's life?
    Attend concerts as a family. Music can play a wonderful role in each of your lives. Many orchestras offer concert series' designed for family audiences. In smaller communities there are local ensembles and choirs that also present great affordable events.

    You can explore music by listening to it together. Play the radio or a CD as you prepare dinner together, read or spend time in the car. Local libraries often have a music collection that you can borrow from if you are interested in delving into new horizons.
  2. What other benefits will music studies have for my child?
    The academic world is still busy studying this very subject! In the meantime, several studies have confirmed the overall benefits of studying music. Read more at the following link:
    http://www.menc.org/information/advocate/facts.html
  3. I'd like to advocate for more music education at my child's school, but I don't how to begin. Do you have any resources to help me?
    There are many organizations that have such resources for parents. At www.supportmusic.com, you will find an easy-to-use resource kit designed to provide parents and teachers with the tools and information for taking action on behalf of music education. As well, you can contact the Coalition for Music Education in Canada www.coalitionformusiced.ca.

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