Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Music Lessons

Numerous studies have shown that children how study music (learn an instrument) succeed better in school.  Here is three studies that demonstrate just that.
The University of Irvine conducted experiments testing music study against the benefits
of computer learning in preschoolers. Additionally, they tested students who studied
music against those who simply did not, and the results were astounding. Of the three
groups of tested preschoolers, those who studied piano lessons performed 34% higher
than their peers who had not had any musical training.
Other studies have shown that 2nd and 3rd grade music students, because of the
counting involved in musical rhythms, scored 100% higher in math than those who
learned mathematical counting in a traditional setting.
And college students who have studied music have typically scored 98 points higher
than their non-musical peers on their SATs. (
Most people I know understand all of this information but the hard thing is actually putting this into practice.  It's a lot of work, money, time, and frustration having your children learn an instrument.  But I'm here to tell you it's so worth everything you put into it.  It's like anything in life the more you put into it the more you get out of it.  You personally have to decide how important is it to you to have your children learn to play an instrument.  Here is some questions I have had from a few friends who were thinking of starting there kids on an instrument.  I'll try my best to answer them.  Please offer any of your own experiences and opinions.
How old should I start my child in private lessons?  I have a believe that your never too old and never too young.  But I will say I wouldn't start formal lessons until age 3 or 4.  I would lean toward 4 though unless you have a child who really wants to or they are just really quick at learning and very responsive to new things.  With that said, if you do want to start them that young, you really need to be involved with the lessons and every practice.  The Suzuki Method encourages young beginnings and a lot of other music methods are starting to make method books for young learners (pre-readers.)  You also want to find a very patient teacher who is great with kids. For this young age, playing the instrument with you everyday is so much fun, you make it a game and make it exciting and rewarding for them.
If you want to start your child later after they are more independent I think 8 years old is a good age.  They are a little more responsible and you would not need to be as involved with the process, but I would encourage you to still be as involved as your child will let you. (As long as you are positive) The more parent support and encouragement a child gets they will succeed more.  Even if you just pop in while they are practicing and say "Wow that sounded great, can I hear you do that again"  Or "It sounded like you were having trouble with that part, do you want some help?"

How much of a priority should it be?  This is a tough question, because it really is up to you.  For me it's a high priority.  It's something all our kids do, and that's what we tell them, "This is what we all do?"  Our kids play their instrument before they watch TV, or play with friends.  We know that if it doesn't get done before then, it just doesn't happen.  Homework and school work does come first.  We really try to have them do practicing before school and that is so nice.

If I know how to play an instrument, would it be ok for me to teach them?  I think it can work.  Depending on how well you get a long with your child it can work great!  But even though I do know how to play piano and the flute, I have decided to have my kids take from another teacher.  I practice with them but it's nice to have someone else to check with every week.  The best situation would be to find another teacher that you can swap lessons with.

It's just too much money to take lessons, we can't afford it.
I totally understand this.  Especially if you have three, four or even more taking lessons at the same time.  There are other ways they can learn an instrument.  Have them pick an instrument when it becomes an option at school.  School orchestra and band is a great way to learn.  You can get great deals on rentals and also buying a used instrument can be very affordable.  We got our son a violin on for only $60.  If you play an instrument you can teach them yourself, or work out some kind of swap.  Even if you don't play an instrument a lot of teachers would work with you if you wanted to take to swap with a skill you have.  If there is a will, there is always a way.  Get creative.

How far do we push them, or how long should they take lessons for?  I think to make lessons worth it for your child is they need to be able to play something on their instrument for fun.  That's when they can enjoy playing is being able to play the music they love to hear.  You could make a piece goal where after they can play a certain piece they can stop playing or once they get to a certain level they can stop.  It really necessary to set a goal so they have something in mind.  My goal for oldest son who is playing the piano is that he can play from the hymn book well enough to accompany a congregation.  You could also set an age goal, once you are 16 you can stop playing.  I really would discourage starting any instrument if your child is already asking how long do they have to play for before they even start taking, you are going to be in for a long battle.  But every child gets to a point where they want to quit.  That is so normal and then is when you need to have a discussion about why your doing this what this is helping that with and then set some goals.

What can I do to keep them motivated?
Buy them fun pieces of music or books for birthday's, Christmas, or after they play in a recital.
Take them to concerts where they will get excited about their instrument.  If you have a piano player, take them to a Jon Schmidt concert for sure!
Get recordings of music they are playing or other great classical music
Get them performing, play for Grandma and Grandpa, have weekly family recitals in your home, go to a rest home and play for residents there, play in church for prelude or a musical number, etc.
Give them lots of encouragement and don't let them say this is so hard, "It's not hard, it's just new."


Sunday, October 17, 2010

We've Been Booed!

We got booed this week and the kids just thought that was so cool.  Someone from the neighborhood left a treat, a Boo Ghost, and a poem on our door step secretly.  Then we are to make or buy a treat and do the same for two more neighbors.  You should find a door that doesn't have a ghost on it that say's "We've Been Booed!"  The kids wanted to go around the neighborhood and see who hasn't been booed.  The thing I liked about this one is you can print it off the internet so you don't have to run to the copy center to copy the ghost and poem.  There is still two weeks until Halloween, I'm sure you have time to get it started in your neighborhood.  Here is the link for the poem and ghost.  Happy Booing!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Wishing only wounds the heart

Don't dream too far, Don't lose sight of who you are...(Words from "I'm Not that Girl")
This really sad song from "Wicked" has a very melancholy melody and theme.  The message I take from it may be a bit unconventional.  Sometimes I find myself wishing today away.

Oh I wish I had my degree already and wasn't in school, it's just so hard.  Or, I wish my baby would sleep through the night, I'm so tired.  I'm so bored, I've already cleaned my house today, my baby is sleeping, I'm so lonely.  Or I wish we didn't have to buy diapers anymore.  
All of these things I know I have said before, and maybe you are saying them now. But we all someday will get to a place where we look back and want those times back or wish we would have treasured that time more.  I think of my brother who is out of state and wishing he was closer to family, just like I wish he was closer to us, but how could we both enjoy these times we are in right now! I think there are several things we can do:
1. Count you blessing: Look at today, and find everything you can that is great. This really helps me realize I do have many things to smile about, (well someday's it maybe only one, but finding one is important!)
2.  Journaling:  Put your thoughts and feelings in writing and take time to remember yesterday--this helps me keep life in perspective
3.  Take one day at a time:  Don't get caught up in getting so busy that we can't enjoy today--(I'm preaching to myself on this one!)
4.  Serve--However busy you are or how much you really don't feel like serving anyone, it will change you for the better in every case.  As you serve your life is lifted to new heights and not just you but others around you are changed.  Your children will catch it.  I know my mom serving others has made me look outside of myself because she did the same.
5.  Take time to meditate--A quiet minute might be all you have but take time to mediate or pray.  Don't lose sight of who you really are.  You are so much more.

I would love to hear your ideas of things you do to keep today beautiful and not just wish it away.

Friday, October 8, 2010


So my husband and I have heard from four different people we respect that sleepovers are not a good idea for kids.  Most of the reasons why have been very similar.  Two policeman we know said that they have seen many kids 1.  got in trouble with the law for the first time at a sleepover; 2.  experimented with drugs or alcohol  3.  were molested by other kids their age, an older sibling, or an adult, 4.  saw inappropriate movies or pornographic images.
That was enough for me to decide our kids are not going to do sleepovers.  If a friend has a sleepover party we will let them do a later night and then come home at curfew.  Growing up we had a saying, "Nothing Good happens after midnight"  I think you could put any curfew time in that phrase.
One parent we talked with said that their kids had the hardest time with the no sleepover rule when they were younger like 8-10 years old and then it became a no issue because the kids got use to the rule.  I really enjoyed a talk given by Elder Larry R. Lawrence last week during General Conference.  His talk was entitled "Courageous Parenting"  Wow, what powerful examples and words he used! Here is what he said about sleepovers.

May I express my personal warning about a practice that is common in many cultures. I am referring to sleepovers, or spending the night at the home of a friend. As a bishop I discovered that too many youth violated the Word of Wisdom or the law of chastity for the first time as part of a sleepover. Too often their first exposure to pornography and even their first encounter with the police occurred when they were spending the night away from home.
Peer pressure becomes more powerful when our children are away from our influence and when their defenses are weakened late at night. If you have ever felt uneasy about an overnight activity, don’t be afraid to respond to that warning voice inside. Always be prayerful when it comes to protecting your precious children.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Couldn't even see the floor!

Is your kids room this messy?  I really don't think my kids have had it messier.  We had so many clothes and toys on the floor I could barely get in the doorway.  I ignored it this week and then today I said "Enough! We have to do something about this!"  So we (I helped) set a timer for 30 minutes and started cleaning.  We even cleaned out drawers because they were all disorganized.  When the time rang we only had a little bit left on the floor and it was so great.  I knew if I didn't help them it wouldn't get done, or it would take them all afternoon, and we had soccer practice to get to.  
Any ideas to teach cleanliness without you being the one to always do it?  I don't want to raise a slob.  I hope my boys will be a blessing to their wives by being clean and already in the habit of cleaning up after themselves.  One idea I heard from my boys friend is he doesn't get breakfast until his room is clean.  I'm thinking that would be a good idea.  My boys are very into food so that may work.  It's so much easier to get it done in the morning too and then just keep it clean.  Any other things that have worked for you?