Caregiver Tip, Suzuki Method • April 26, 2019

Environment + music

By Miss Candace

One of the incredible phenomenons we experience in the music world is seeing a younger sibling grow and take to a musical instrument very quickly, maybe even faster than their older sibling did. It is due to many factors, but my favorite is just being raised around music and the experience of a family prioritizing practice and enjoying music in their lives.

When one of my students became a new big sister, all arrived for a lesson and my student informed me we couldn’t play loudly today because we would wake the baby. I smiled at mom and said “we’ll see…” and proceeded to have a normal, big sounding cello lesson as we always did. My student was surprised to see that her sister slept through the entire lesson, and through her first few years, she loved to sit on the couch and watch us play and interact. She would only fuss when we talked too much in a lesson – such a taskmaster!

These new siblings get to spend time listening to music even before they are born, and all they ever know is a world where people play music, spend time practicing together, and go to concerts. Plenty will expect to play an instrument because they idolize their older sibling and it feels like “this is what we do”. From their perspective of the world, everyone values playing this instrument and they should too!

This just illustrates that our environment highly influences our values and there is so much you can do to positively encourage your kids through their surroundings. Here are a few ideas to try out:

  • Play music while doing chores and cooking.
  • Create a “listening jar” that has slips of paper and on each is a different artist/composer that becomes the star of the week! Explore Brahms one week and Beatles the next!
  • Have pictures of music or composers in your house/practice space.
  • Talk about music and how it makes us feel when we hear different songs.
  • Have music instruments out and about (piano lids open so you can play easily, guitars mounted on the wall, etc)
  • Watch videos of violinists/violists/cellists/bassists to see the crazy and beautiful technique up close.
  • When watching a movie, talk about the music that they hear! Does it help tell the story?
  • Make a playlist on Spotify of their favorite pieces they identify!
  • Make a playlist of songs you want them to know from your youth!
  • Have them draw pictures of music – what they hear, how it makes them feel, what they think is happening, or just what it makes them think of!

The list is endless, but the more we encourage the love of music to creep into our lives in positive ways the easier it is to help kids self-motivate to practice. If they have something they like and want to work towards, the easier everyone’s job becomes!