Below is what I have gleaned from the book:
1) Benefits of music
Researchers have found music to be positively correlated with memory and school achievement. Music also provides spiritual (Think King Saul) and medical benefits.
2) Ways in which parents can help their children succeed at music lessons
One suggestion given in the book is that parents be involved in music lessons and practice sessions. I find attending Little An's ballet classes with her useful as I am able to record the music used in class and help her to practise the moves at home. For J, we do not attend his violin lessons, but his teacher will tell Lyn or me how each lesson goes and what to focus on when he practises. J prefers to practise by himself although we occasionally play duets.
The author also recommends daily practice routines and to tailor practice sessions to suit each child's temperament. I find it difficult to implement daily practice routines in our busy society, but am glad that Lyn reminds J to practise his pieces at least once every day.
Giving the child a goal to work towards may motivate a child to practise. For J, his teacher asked if he would like to take his Grade 4 exam next year. We let him make the decision since he is the one who has to put in the effort to do well in the exam. He decided to go ahead with the challenge and although he still needs to be reminded to practise, he does it without complaint.
It is also good to provide opportunities for recitals. At small gatherings, J sometimes plays the violin. At my birthday celebration recently, he played the birthday song while Little An danced. That was totally enjoyable.
I think the advice to join a music group is wonderful. J has joined an orchestra and he loves being in it. I managed to make a recording of one of the pieces during a rehearsal. J listens to it over and over again while humming his part. A short performance is coming up soon and I think J is looking forward. I am too. :)
Finally, the author advises parents to encourage rather than force practice. If the child is reluctant to practise, perhaps a change of music may do the trick. J was thrilled when I bought him Star Wars music for the violin. He can play the theme song and some other Star Wars pieces rather fluently now.
3) Recommended books and music
The author recommends some books and music and here is a list of those I am interested in but have yet to check out:
- The Mozart Effect for Children by Campbell Don
- Music for Little People by Feirrabend John
- Sue Hammond's series with titles such as Beethoven Lives Upstairs
- Music Lessons for Alex by Arnold Caroline
I am also intending to source for the following videos: Amazing Grace, Heidi and Wizard of Oz.
I have also acquired the following albums after attending an SSO concert with J:
My First Classical Music was a hit with both children, although some pieces are more popular than others. Little An says her favourite is Spring from Vivaldi's Four Seasons. J likes that too, as well as Rossini's William Tell Overture and Beethoven's Fifth Symphony.
The Carnival of the Animals album comes with Britten's Young Persons' Guide to the Orchestra. J keeps listening to the latter and has learnt more about the different sections of the orchestra by so doing.
The Tortoise and the Hare features a storyteller reading the famous fable while music plays in the background. The tuba represents the tortoise while the hare is represented by a higher instrument (which I cannot recall at the moment!).
4) Teach children to discern music
Our children are bound to be exposed to music outside the home. I was reminded to teach them to discern lyrics and that not all music is good for the soul and mind.
5) Music curriculum
The author gives information on some music curriculum. Two of them are common in Singapore - Yamaha and Suzuki. I was brought up in the Yamaha system from age 4 to 13 and used to love ensemble playing. Yamaha also trains students how to identify a played note and that helps me play pieces by ear. Naturally, I enrolled J in Yamaha at age 4. He still loves playing in a group and can also play music by ear. The down side of Yamaha is that the pace of learning is slower than having an individual tutor since the teacher has to cater to a wide range of learning ability (as well as effort in practising). Fingering and technique may also not be corrected since it is hard to monitor these in a group setting.
The Suzuki method takes advantage of a young child's musical sensitivity. Children as young as three are trained to play musical instruments. The parent's role is crucial and he/she attends lessons with the child. Little An is enrolled in a Suzuki class and I will soon be able to compare Yamaha training with the Suzuki method.
The book also provides ideas on music activities and games and gives a month-by-month guide on introducing classical music to a child. If you are a friend reading this and will like to borrow the book from me, I will be very happy to lend it to you. Enjoy your musical journey with your child. :)