Musical New Year’s Resolutions

New Year’s Resolutions. Are you a fan of them? Do you make resolutions every January? Or maybe you just set yourself some new goals for the year. Do you make any resolutions relating to music? Or any goals? Whatever you want to call them, let me give you a few ideas for Musical New Year’s Resolutions.

Go to more concerts

        Do you get to live concerts very often? Plan to go to more this year. Indoor, outdoor, free, paid, local, a new group, high school, community, professional – doesn’t matter! Go enjoy some live music. Chicago has a great line-up of free outdoor concerts during the summer. They just announced the schedule for the summer; I am already thinking about which ones I want to go to!

Learn a new instrument

        Do you play an instrument? Have you ever wanted to play something? Start learning! Choose an instrument and start learning to play! Maybe you played something in school – choose a related instrument and learn that one!

Practice an instrument you used to play

        Did you play an instrument in high school or college? Get it out and start practicing again! Practice up on those pieces you used to play. Start practicing a piece you always wanted to learn to play.

Join a performance group

        Get involved with a local performance group. Join a choir. Join the community band or orchestra. You will meet some fascinating people and enjoy making music in a group setting. Accept the challenge and have some fun with music!

Learn to read music

        Did you always enjoy singing but never learned to read music? Did you play a treble clef instrument but never learned to read bass clef? Or vice-versa? Did tenor clef or alto clef always mess with your mind? Take some time and master the art of reading music.

Explore a new genre of music

        Do you know all the latest pop music but can’t tell a symphony from a concerto? Maybe you are great with Bach and Vivaldi but know nothing about 20th century music. Whatever the case, take the challenge to learn a new form of music. Maybe you will choose to explore string quartets. Perhaps you will decide to learn about bluegrass. The options are endless! Explore something new.

Take a music appreciation course

        Learn about the many varieties of music available! Check out the different eras of music and the composers of each era. Find an online course, check out a course from your library, take a continuing education course through your community college. Learn something new!

Add your own ideas in the comments! Let me know how you are going to challenge your musical self this year.

Ideas for Musical New Year Resolutions

Sing with your Child – It will be good for both of you!

Looking for a great way to introduce your child to music? Searching for an easy way to get your child interested in music? I’ve got a great idea for you! Not only is it easy, it’s free! Can’t get much better than that!

The easiest way to introduce your child to music is to sing. That’s it! Just sing! Sing with your child. Sing to your child. You can sing about anything. Sing about what you are doing. Make up songs about picking up the toys. Sing about getting up in the morning. Just sing!

Here are some reasons why you should sing with and to your child.

Singing with your child is fun!

Music makes most anything better, so use some songs to go through your day. Sing when it is time to wake your child in the morning. Sing about her clothes when she is getting dressed. Make up a song about what you are going to do that day. Sing silly songs together. Make a game with your songs. Let your child sing an answer back to you. Just have fun!

Singing with your child is easy!

Just take your sentences and set them to some little tune. Use a melody you already know, or just make one up. You aren’t looking for highly refined music here, just little tunes. Make them up as you go along. Even if you only use a couple different notes, you can still sing a little song about what you are doing or thinking.

Singing with your child takes no great skills!

Singing with your child does not take great skills or practice. Remember, you are doing this for fun. It’s not necessary to have a great voice, or great vocal skills. So, enjoy! We talk to our kids without worrying about being great orators; we should sing with them without concern for our vocal qualities. Just have fun!

Singing with your child is free!

What’s better than free? You don’t have to invest in materials or lessons to sing with your child. No cost involved! Sing songs you remember from your childhood. Sing songs you have heard. Make up your own songs. Find silly kid’s songs at the library, or on your favorite streaming service. Sing them together. Make up your own words to some songs you already know.

Singing with your child will benefit both of you.

  • Bonding
  • Cognitive skills
  • Communication (Language skills)
  • Musical Sense

Your child will learn some basic things about music.

  • Pitch differentiation
  • Music is a form of communication
  • You can have fun with music
  • Music is for anyone, anytime, anywhere, not just for professionals.

Here are some links to other sources showing that singing with your child is beneficial:

So, go forth, sing together, and have fun!

Sing with your Child!

Beginning Music Lessons – A Parent’s Survival Guide

Has your child just started beginning music lessons? Let me guess – you were all excited for your child to start music lessons. Your child was excited, the instrument was great, the music books were captivating…and then your child came home to practice. And the sound is driving you crazy! This wasn’t what you signed up for! How can that lovely instrument produce these horrible sounds? Or maybe you are wondering how your child can play so many wrong notes! Perhaps the incorrect rhythm is grating on your nerves! Relax. Give them time. Your child will improve.

But in the meantime, here are a few ideas to help you handle the sounds of beginning music lessons.

        Positive Attitude/Smile

        Patience

        Perseverance

        And Perhaps, Ear Plugs

Have a positive attitude!

Smile! Your child will get better with practice, I promise! He will learn to produce a better sound. She will learn to play in tune with herself. He will start to count the rhythm correctly. She will play more right notes than wrong ones.

How you can help:

Encourage your child to keep practicing. Praise any progress he makes. Don’t complain about the awful sound, or the wrong notes. Don’t tell all the relatives about your child’s problems with his instrument. Smile and make them continue to practice. Take your child to concerts and recitals to inspire him. Let her talk to more advanced musicians who can encourage her to keep practicing. Smile!

Be patient! And realistic.

Most students will not be playing at an advanced level after their first few beginning music lessons. Give them time to learn! Just like any other skill set, music takes time and effort to learn and do well. Give them time! Some day they will be able to practice on their own. Sooner or later they will remember to take all their music with them to their lessons. But until that time they will need some help from you.

How you can help:

Smile! Encourage them to keep practicing. Make a recording of your child after the first couple weeks of practice, and then again after a few months. Play the recordings to them so they (and you) can see how they have improved. Make this a regular practice. Celebrate milestones – finishing a book, learning all the fingerings, getting a great sound, the first concert or recital, etc. Sit with them while they practice. Establish a practice routine. Help them keep all their music and supplies organized and together.

Persevere!

Don’t let quitting be an option! (Or at least not for the first year). Especially, don’t have them quit because you don’t want to listen to them practice! You will soon get beyond the sound of beginning music lessons. Things will get better! Practice will not always be their top priority. There will be times you will have to “force” your child to practice. But that’s ok. You “force” them to do their homework, to brush their teeth, just add music practice to the list.

How you can help: 

Smile! And insist that they practice. Don’t let them argue about it with you. Just make it part of the daily routine. Set reasonable goals and give rewards when those goals are met. (Work with your child’s teacher for some mutual goals.)

Perhaps Ear Plugs!

Let’s be real here – it is not always pleasant or enjoyable to listen to students practice, especially beginners! You may think the poor tone quality is going to drive you crazy. Or the mistakes. Or the intonation issues. So, put in some ear plugs to keep you from constantly commenting on (criticizing?) their playing. Or go for a walk! (providing your child is old enough to be home alone, or that someone else is home with him!) I have done that! When I couldn’t stand the mistakes, and couldn’t constantly correct my child about the same mistakes, I just walked out the door and around a couple blocks – figuring that by the time I got home my child would be finished practicing and I wouldn’t be tempted to say something I would later regret!

How you can help:

Realize that beginners will occasionally screech, squawk, blast, etc. They will play wrong notes. They are still learning! If it bothers you, take a break. Put in ear plugs, go for a walk. But don’t criticize and discourage them!

I remember trying not to listen to carefully to my beginning string players when they practiced because too often the intonation issues would be almost too much to handle. But they improved! Now I miss listening to them practice.

When one of my sons was first learning to play French horn his tone quality was awful! The sound was something like a sick elephant sneezing. I was afraid we had totally chosen the wrong instrument for him! And then he got it figured out. I am so glad we let him keep going with his horn. I loved listening to him play!

And then there were the times when my kids were practicing piano and continually making the same mistakes. I could only correct them so many times before we both went crazy. So, I shut my mouth, put on my shoes, and took a walk until they were finished practicing. They had to learn to recognize and correct their own mistakes!

Your child will improve; give him time! Don’t give up on them – give them time to figure this new instrument out! You will be happy you did.

Still trying to figure out what instrument your child should play? Read this post for some help – Which Musical Instrument Should my Child Play?