At Tunelark, our music instructors have the daily joy of witnessing young people learn to play music. It’s powerful to watch a five-year-old belt her favorite song with a clear, confident voice or to see a nervous teenager play a song on the piano from start to finish and beam with delight at their success.
Our music teachers know that the journey of teaching music to kids and teens includes some slow-downs and obstacles, including distractions or challenging moments of learning complex musical concepts. It’s a common refrain from parents: How can I keep my child engaged in music?
The answer might be counter-intuitive.
Learning an instrument and studying music is a highly creative process that shouldn’t be all about study. In fact, a lifelong music practice starts with joy and inspiration which, in turn, feeds a consistent practice over time.
Teaching kids music effectively requires creating an environment of fun, social engagement, and a dose of regular practice technique. Put another way: successful music lessons strike a balance between instruction and inspiration.
Children need to experience and celebrate their progress in order to be motivated to learn music. Working with kids’ innate curiosity as learners is key.
Below, we share our Tunelark music teachers’ top five tips to help you in teaching music to kids. We hope this helps you tap into your child’s intrinsic desire to learn through play and increase their focus and dedication at the same time.
1. Surround Your Child with a Music-Filled World
Share your love for music with your child and encourage their curiosity for playing, singing or dancing along to songs. Play your favorite artists’ albums around the house or in the car. Start a conversation about the music that you love, and take an interest in what music they connect to.
By sharing music you love and expanding your musical tastes to meet theirs, you’ll nurture a joyful bond and language around music.
Bonus: attend concerts or watch musical performances with your child, especially those that allow them to see their favorite instrument or genre of music played professionally in front of a supportive audience.
Taking your child to see other people perform, especially friends and family, is great for their confidence, as well. There are plenty of free ways to see music, too, whether it’s free symphony days in the park, open-mic nights or watching a cousin play music at a family gathering.
When children see music celebrated as a part of everyday life, they’re more inspired to participate – and likely more open to following your lead when it comes to taking lessons and practicing in the future.
2. Show Your Support and Encouragement
Children are deeply influenced by their parents’ values, attitudes, and beliefs. So, being enthusiastic about your child’s music or instrument and showing that you value music will help keep them motivated.
Teaching music to kids and teens is a value-add for the whole family, especially when parents get to see the fruits of their children’s practice and perseverance. So, show them you care. Ask to hear what they’ve been playing, but don’t pressure them to perform. Sometimes just talking about how lessons are going is a good start that leads to comfort playing in front of others.
When possible, it’s valuable to attend your child’s rehearsals, concerts, and performances in-person. Your presence may just be the confidence boost your child needs when they perform. When life gets busy, another family member or family friend attending can be a great plan B.
3. Encourage Your Child to Try a Variety of Instruments
Some kids don’t “click” right away with the first instrument they try, and that’s no reason to be discouraged! Give your child the opportunity to learn music on different instruments, and see which one they find the most engaging.
Many music stores rent out instruments short-term, so this can be a great way to test-drive. Taking lessons on different instruments not only exposes students to new teachers and music styles, but it’s a great way to build varied musical skills and build excitement.
Especially at a young age, exposure to a variety of instruments can help build an incredible musical foundation and set your child off on a path of an instrument they really love.
4. Follow Your Child’s Lead
Support your child’s interests and the musical genres and artists that appeal to them. After all, music is about passion. It’s up to parents and teachers to nurture that passion in age-appropriate ways and, more importantly, ways that are geared towards the individual child.
Finding the right music teacher for one-on-one lessons can further support your child’s music journey. Music teachers can provide curriculum materials that are visually appealing and age-appropriate. At Tunelark, our instructors tailor lessons for each child, simplifying students’ favorite songs or by assigning Tunelark games that teach foundational music skills and adapt to your child’s learning level.
To effectively teach music to kids and teens long-term, it may be beneficial to let your child explore an instrument at their own pace. This way, music becomes a part of their world, without pressure.
Consider holding off teaching classical music like Mozart or Bach if they’re resistant to classical music. Let them learn from the artists of any generation they want to and allow their music path to be shaped by their enthusiasm.
Allow children more autonomy to express themselves through music and give them the freedom to practice when they want. Encourage, but don’t pressure, them to develop a habit of playing just a few minutes each day. (Often, a few minutes blossoms into a much longer session!)
Most importantly, make sure that when they decide to pick up their chosen instrument, it’s not out of a sense of obligation, but simply the joy of playing.
5. Find a Good Music Teacher
A teacher can make or break your child’s experience with music. Good teachers not only teach, but they become mentors and role models to your child. Teachers cultivate their students’ relationship with music, particularly with encouraging, 1:1 music lessons, which enhances engagement.
And, if your child isn’t connecting with their current music teacher, don’t be afraid to try a new one! Choose a teacher that can hold your child’s attention and motivate them to learn music by focusing on sparking their intrinsic love of music and joy in playing.
Getting the right match between student and teacher is critical to creating the dynamic and atmosphere where powerful learning takes place.
At Tunelark, our staff handpick teachers for each student based on the child’s experience level, interests, and learning needs. The first music lesson is a trial to make sure the fit is right, and we’ll work with you to find the best teacher for your needs until you’re satisfied. Our goal is a 100% fit and a sustainable connection where the student flourishes.
With a little encouragement and a dose of music woven into your family life, you’ll begin to foster a love for music in your child. A strategy of nurturing curiosity and passion for music while providing the opportunity to learn from an inspiring teacher is a recipe for lifelong musical engagement.