A Parent’s Guide to Music Practicing

Kinhaven 7-5-16-22This is a guest post by John Skelton.  He is the author of “Best Practicing: A Parent’s Guide to Beginning Strings” and the soon to be released “Take Note Method” for beginning strings. He has over fifteen years of experience teaching in private and public schools at all levels. Since becoming a professional educator, he has dedicated his career to finding better methods of instruction for school and home.

There are many questions that parents have when their child brings home an instrument from school for the first time. Will my child enjoy learning this instrument? Will they get anything out of it? How far will they go with it?

The reality that quickly sets in after the first or second lesson, however, is that these philosophical little questions give way to more practical concerns: Are they practicing enough? Are they practicing the right thing? Are they doing it the right way?

From my experience as a teacher and a parent, practicing boils down to six main questions:

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3 Reasons Why Brain Research Should Guide Arts Scheduling in Schools

Kinhaven 7-6-16-33There have been more studies of the brain completed in the past twenty years than perhaps the past 200 years combined.  We all have more access to knowledge about how humans learn that we have ever had before.  These brain studies have shown us many things, including how children learn in different ways, how learning changes physical brain structure, and that “talent” as we know it is generally learned and developed — not inborn and inherent.

Yet our public school schedules and offerings have remain unchanged, for the most part, for decades.

As far as school subject offerings are concerned, an abundance of research continues to show that arts education has a profound effect on a child’s life, both within and beyond school walls.  But here is the rub: Some of the most crucial life skills that studying music imparts on a child is not quantified and reflected on the current iteration of local and state report cards — therefore, science has been all but ignored by legislators and administrators.

Regardless of the many reasons to study art for arts’ sake, brain research (and the subsequent data from it) should be more than enough to ensure that the arts are not only offered in their unfettered forms, but are infused into every nook and cranny of school curricula.

Here are three vital human characteristics that research of the brain has shown music provides all students in their school day:

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An Important Truth: Musical Talent is not Born — It is Learned

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This is a guest post by Dr. Anita Collins.  Anita is an award-winning Australian educator, academic and researcher in the area of music education, particularly in the impact of music education on cognitive development. Anita is a communicator, a … [Continue reading]

How to Advocate for Music Education (Even When You Have No Clue How to Do So)

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Whether you realize it or not, if your child is starting music study through their school's music program this year, you are now a potentially powerful advocate for music education. Since your child expressed an interest in singing or playing an … [Continue reading]

3 Awful Things That Happen When Children are Denied Daily Arts Instruction in Schools

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Regardless of the social and economic circumstances of our time, the arts have an essential place in the balanced education of our children. In all the education discussion I hear and the literature I read, the arts are consistently given little … [Continue reading]

Why Your Musical Instrument Demonstration Means Everything to Your School’s Program

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There is no more exciting or important time in a child's musical life than the day they choose which instrument they want to learn to play in school.  More often than not, this choice occurs on a day where the instruments of the band and orchestra … [Continue reading]

A Recruitment Letter to Potential Music Parents’ Association (Booster) Members

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Dear Families: As our school year comes to a close, we want to congratulate you on embarking on what we hope is just one of many years of your child's (and your own) musical journey. Perhaps you were thinking that this year may be your last as … [Continue reading]

3 Reasons Music and Arts Education is a Shining Light in a School System that Values “Sameness”

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Somehow, some way, our school system has become completely standardized -- yet our children are anything but that. Instead of valuing children as individuals, our school system has designed itself to measure children against one thing -- an … [Continue reading]

3 Ways It Takes a Community to Develop Great Music Program

I have had the pleasure of meeting thousands of music educators while speaking at our nation's music educator conventions this year. These teachers all are consistently and passionately engaged in looking for ways to develop themselves as educators … [Continue reading]

3 Ways Music Instruction in Schools Teaches Grit (and Why Children Need it So Badly Now)

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The "self-esteem movement" in this country is coming to an end.  We have learned that giving a trophy to all kids just for participating hasn't worked, and -- even worse -- has undermined the natural grit that our nation is built upon. We are also … [Continue reading]