With September comes the opportunity for exploring new programs and extracurricular activities for your young family. The possibilities are seemingly endless, ranging from music and dance to gymnastics, sports and science.
Parents face the challenge of identifying a good fit between their child's areas of interest and programs where known or suspected talents and abilities will be encouraged. The ominous task of identifying latent abilities in children belongs to parents, who must scan the vast landscape of opportunity and narrow it down to the right program for the right child.
My purpose here is to proclaim the merit of music education for young children, although I recognize that for some, this will not represent a good fit. Most parents recognize that a well-rounded education requires an exposure to music at an early age.
I credit my early exposure to music with providing the groundwork for my career, my hobbies and a large part of my social and recreational life. It goes far beyond these, however. Studies have shown that music education can be responsible for the development of analytical, problem-solving and math skills while assisting in developing focus.
Exploring your child's musical abilities need not involve the costly investment in an instrument. Many early childhood programs teach basic rudiments and ear-skills by using rhythm instruments and the voice. In my experience the best programs are those which turn music education into a fun, child-centered experience. Children learn best when they're having fun, not when they're placed in rigid, inflexible environments.
Many adult survivors of early music education will relate stories of their first (and only) piano teacher who sat, ruler in hand, waiting to pounce and inflict a painful swat on the offending appendage upon playing the first wrong note. Today, many wonderful programs exist for the young child where the instruction is positive and nurturing, creative and appropriate.
Inasmuch as you, the parent, are seeking advice on selecting an appropriate music education program for your child, my suggestion is that you investigate numerous prospects and find the one which best suits your child.
Keep the following in mind in your search:
Consider yourself in charge of your child's music education. To the extent that you can "point them in the right direction", you will have done them a great service.
Brian is director of operations for Youth Singers of Calgary, a non-profit organization providing music and performance education programs to young people ages three 1/2 to 28.
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