A major challenge that needs to be addressed as far as music education goes is that of continuity, particularly during school transitions. As kids graduate from elementary school to middle school or middle school to high school, parents and students alike are forced to make and adapt to drastic changes.

The transition process is enough to cause serious anxiety in every parent. You wonder what the schedule will be like, what academic demands will be made of your child and how best you can offer support for good performance.

A major cause of anxiety for parents is the heavier academic workload that comes with moving to the next educational level. Additionally, there will likely be a lot more extra-curricular activities for your child to choose from. It becomes important to prioritize in favor of academic performance.

students in class
Image Courtesy of YouTube

As a result, music will often fall by the wayside. Many parents wrongly assume that the time that would otherwise be spent on music both at school and home will be put to better use. GRAMMY nominated music educator Anthony Mazzocchi disagrees with this reasoning, arguing that students have much to gain by continuing their musical education, and instrumental music in particular.

It’s impossible to make an educated decision about quitting without more time on task with the instrument. It’s also not realistic to think that one can skip a year of instrumental music and go back later once the schedule settles down — most often, there is no going back once you quit. Via NAFME

Although the school itself and peer pressure will contribute significantly to your child’s ability and willingness to stick with his or her instrument lessons, parents still have a crucial role to play in sustaining their children’s music education. Mazzocchi offers 4 tips to help parents do their part:

1. Ensure there is a music-friendly environment at home

playing piano
Image Courtesy of YouTube

One significant way that parents can do this is to expose their children to great music created by the instrument they are learning.

When is the last time you sat down with the primary goal of listening to music without doing anything else? Mindful listening is a unique and powerful experience. Additionally, if parents have always wanted to play a musical instrument, they should allow their child to see them playing and expressing their love for music. The more music is part of home life, the better the chance is that it will continue in school. Via NAFME

2. Take advantage of your child’s interest – it will wane

A lot of parents hold off on providing structure for their kids even when they show interest because they think it’s too early to go all military on them.

If the child does not know how to get better in a systematic fashion and the teacher and family fails to help develop a practice routine at home, the child’s interest will wane. Therefore, parents should not take the child’s interest for granted. They should ensure that practice occurs most days and that goals are clearly set as far as performance objectives are concerned, not time practicing. Via NAFME

3. Allow some flexibility in instrument choice

guitar
Image Courtesy of Pixabay

Parents may assume that switching instruments will mean losing out on all the progress made on the previous one, but some flexibility (not too much, though) is actually good.

As long as children don’t switch an instrument every few months, it’s okay for them to switch. For instance, it’s good for a child to start on piano or violin and then move on to another instrument later if they have the desire to do so… Besides, many kids switch instruments only to return to the original one later with renewed passion and appreciation. Via NAFME

4. Don’t allow them to quit

Just like math, many students will opt to quit their music lessons given the chance. It’s up to parents to take away this option.

Music is a core subject that encourages “right-brain” thinking and may be the difference between a child who gets ahead and one who doesn’t in this world. Parents should never deny their child the subject that develops their ability to find professional success and personal fulfillment later just because they are having a short-term disenchantment with the craft for reasons even unbeknownst to them. Via NAFME

Playing violin
Image Courtesy of Wikimedia

If you’re still worried that your child may not be able to handle the increasing demands of their education, Mazzocchi is quick to remind you that students learning instrumental music perform better in tests. Additionally, they miss out on a great opportunity to nurture their creativity and innovative thinking abilities – skills that are in high demand in today’s world.

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