Articles, Reflections

It Takes a Village…

My post today is in response to this article blogged on Today’s Parent.com. Reva Seth writes about her experience embarking on home school for her son, much of what she mentions is valuable to reflect upon as parents. It speaks about an “Education Tribe” or “Parent-Led Team.” You can read her full blog here.

We have all heard the phrase “It takes a village to raise a child,” but if you’re anything like me, you’re wondering where that village exists in this day and age? Who are the villagers, and what are their roles?

I can speak directly about music class and the MYC experience being a part of that village.    You are probably sending your child to music classes because you want them to learn about music or learn to play an instrument. Perhaps you don’t know too much about music, or you do know a lot about it, but you feel that another adult will get better results out of your child. At any rate, your music class, and my studio community, has many citizens in this village. There are your classmates (parents and children) and there’s me, your teacher, and there are many other children taking MYC in the city. We see them when we attend events such as the Rhythm Festival.

But you can build your network beyond this: perhaps grandma or an uncle plays an instrument? Maybe your child’s teacher at school has shared music instruction with them? Maybe there is a school church choir your child can join? There may be an upcoming talent show your child can audition for.

At any rate, I hope that I can be a helpful member of your “Education Tribe” and a suitable leader for the Music Village your child attends weekly.

Who is part of your child’s village? What leaders are in place to guide them, and in which subjects? Sound off in the comments below.

Musically,

Mairéad

Articles, Reflections

Thoughts on Gold Stars and Overscheduling

My post today is in reference to two articles. The first is from Today’s Parent and it’s about over-scheduling your child. There are some great tips like watching for burnout, selecting things that the child is truly interested in, and just as important, making sure that you as a parent are not too exhausted either.

I wish they had mentioned something about commitment though. It’s a great value to impart through our actions and expectations. And speaking of our values, how many of us parents have our child learning music because we feel it is an important thing to learn? How badly did we want to (but perhaps could not) do it as a child? Perhaps we quit music lessons and wish our parents had encouraged us to continue. I don’t think that’s a negative influence on our decisions regarding our child’s programming, as long as you don’t take it too far!

I admire every single one of my music families because I know that music lessons are a very big commitment, and it’s even bigger in and MYC setting. The parent goes to lessons, regulates practice at home and is expected to understand the material right along with the child. I guess it would be considered a two-for-one, but what a lot of work! It’s just not as simple as dropping off your child and coming back in 30 minutes.

But I do believe the method is worth it. I have now taught some of the same children for 5 years and watched them grow from wiggly toddlers or precocious pre-schoolers into confident young musicians. And I know the path wasn’t all roses- sometimes thorns! I hope that parents can see the transformation and will celebrate the successes at the recital this year.

This brings me to the next article about “Giving Gold Stars”  or rather, praise. Children need it; they crave it. And I like to give it 🙂 Sometimes it’s stickers, sometimes a party (like the Movie Night coming up) but more often it’s words about their progress. “I like the legato you put into that song” or, “The was really forte! Wow!” And I also like to notice progress. “Can you believe how well your bridges are coming a long? Two weeks ago you didn’t even know the C-A and now you’re doing ALL of them in the scale!”

I really prefer words to stickers. I mean, I won’t sticker EVERY single thing. They’ll become meaningless. Don’t get me wrong, they’re fun, but a pat on the back (literally!) or saying specifically where the improvement has happened makes more sense to me.

How do you offer praise? What are your thoughts on over-scheduling for children and the rest of the family?

-Mairéad

Articles, News

Does Music Make Your Child Smarter?

This is the question on an article in Today’s Parent March 2012 issue. You can read it here.

What are your thoughts, as parents of little musicians? What have you noticed from the beginning of lessons? What do you notice now after a few years of lessons?

I’ve been aware for some time of how music changes the “neuro-pathways” of our brains (for a good read, pick up This is Your Brain on Music by Dr. Daniel Levitin) and that children’s brains are still developing and thus more flexible to these changes. But something tells me I’m preaching to the converted when I ask the questions above 🙂

The only thing I’d like to stress from the article, or add to it, is that computer games alone don’t make up a full musical experience. Children need to be physically engaged in making and enjoying music. There is a lot to be said for the focus on developing muscle-memory (there’s another sports analogy!) but it’s very true to the practice of music.

So next time you listen to music at home- get up, get silly, and dance your cares away!

-Mairéad