What Goes Into a Well-Rounded Music Education?

Eliza Clark
December 1, 2012

Music is a classic component of a child’s education. Whether through a school program, a church choir, or individual instrument lessons, many parents seek out some sort of musical instruction for their young kids. We sense our kids’ innate musicality and want to help them build on it. They’ve been dancing and singing since birth. Who wouldn’t want to support that kind of joyful expression?

And yet, when music lessons begin, things can change. Learning an instrument is very hard work and requires a high degree of diligence and patience. Practice at home can feel like a lonely endeavor to a lot of kids, even a chore.

Lest our kids lose their joy, a well-rounded music education needs to include more than just instrument or vocal practice. If we go back to the root of our kids’ original love for music—the dancing, the made-up songs, the banging on pots in the kitchen, the whispered lullabies—then we can see what may be missing.

A list of the core elements of a fuller musical education might look this:

  • The chance to try a range of instruments. Too often young kids get locked into one instrument when experimenting with different string, wind and percussion instruments might help them find their best fit.
  • Singing. Vocal work provides the best ear training, and is most often a fun experience with peers.
  • Group work with peers, even for kids working on solo instruments such as piano. We all know how important peer support is for most kids’ motivation.
  • Movement and dance. Movement allows children to internalize music in a way nothing else can.
  • Listening. Knowing the works of great composers and simply enjoying the beauty of all kinds of music gives a huge boost to kids’ musicality.  Listening at home and taking our kids to concerts is a great way to support their music education.
  • Improvisation and composing. Kids should have the opportunity to become active, creative participants in music-making.
  • Performance. The chance to perform regularly is a crucial element in musical training of any kind, and it gives kids a real reason as well as reward for all their hard work.

Let us know, how do you approach music education with your children?

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