It’s an undisputable fact of life: kids learn by example. Both positive and negative behaviors are often learned and reinforced by a parent’s example. What better way to teach your child a skill, like piano playing, than by demonstrating it?
Dads have an extra important role to play when motivating kids to learn music. Children who are regularly exposed to music in the home are more likely to grow up musical. Kids with parents who actually play an instrument (like piano) have an even further edge.
Dad’s role is especially important when it comes to raising a budding pianist. Young children in particular look to their fathers as role models. They see Dad as omniscient, Herculean and heroic. Kids are natural imitators and will readily and willingly engage in an activity that Dad portrays as cool or fun.
Mothers, of course, can play a significant role in helping kids get excited about piano playing. The downside of having a mother who is musical when Dad isn’t is that it can send mixed messages. Children may view piano playing as a “girl” activity, at least at home.
Motivating a child to practice regularly is a chore at the best of times. Children are often even less excited about practicing when they know that their parents don’t play. It’s tough for kids to see the value in a musical education under these circumstances.
Dads can make a difference in the musical education of their children even if they’ve never played piano before. It’s never too late to learn something new. You might not become a virtuoso, but that’s not the point. The point is to show your child that piano playing is a valuable life skill.
Dads who haven’t previously taken piano lessons can get started by doing one or more of the following:
* Taking a parent/child piano class. Some music schools offer parent/child piano lessons. Many are actually founded on the philosophy that children learn best through active parent participation. Parent/child classes teach basic musical skills but also foster healthy interaction between parent and child. Plus, dads who never took piano lessons get to learn right along with their children.
* Take a self-tutorial. Piano tutorials are available in workbook and DVD form as well as online. Tutorials are self-directed and cover the basics like note reading and chords. Online tutorials sometimes have the added advantage of access to an online mentor. Self tutorials range in price. Many are free. Most courses cost between $25 and $100 for basic foundational skills. A dad can at least learn enough this way to understand what his child is learning. He may even be able to learn from his child.
* Take formal piano lessons. Remember, it’s not too late to learn. You don’t have to take classical piano either if that’s not your forte. Find an instructor who understands what your goal is: to lead your child by example. Your instructor can design a lesson plan that helps meet those needs without scaring you with long-winded classical pieces. He or she can teach you the basics and give you a great foundation for piano playing for and with your child.
Dads who master the basics of piano playing have another advantage that non-musical dads don’t. Pianist fathers have one more way to encourage kids to turn off the television and engage in something productive and beneficial. Impromptu family concerts, father/child duets or simply making up goofy songs together fosters relaxation, bonding and emotional health.