Mastering an instrument takes time, dedication, discipline and concentration, so it's no wonder getting children interested in playing - and practicing - is no easy task. Not only is learning to play an instrument a rewarding experience, but research from Martin Gardiner at Brown University's Center for the Study of Human Development shows that children who are involved in music perform better on standardize tests and have overall higher IQ scores than their nonmusical counterparts. This is because learning music stimulates brain function used to understand math, science and engineering.
So how do you get your children excited about playing an instrument? Here are five tips:
1. Pick properly.
Choosing the right instrument is perhaps the most important way of getting children interested in playing music. If possible, have your children test out a few instruments before choosing a final one. While they may think a certain instrument looks cool, a difficult instrument might intimidate them at first, so try something more basic when first starting out.
2. Get involved.
Be actively engaged in your children's music lessons. Ask to hear what pieces they are working on, if they learned any new skills recently or if they know facts about the composer they are playing. Make sure they are staying committed to their practice time and reassure them that their hard work will pay off.
3. Enroll an expert.
Choose a teacher that encourages and inspires your musician-in-training. Receiving proper instruction from a good music teacher will get kids more interested in playing and practicing.
4. Select the right songs.
Choose music that your children will enjoy playing. Yes, the classics are vital, but let's face it, your children would rather play the latest chart-topping pop songs. The more they relate to a piece of music the more likely they will be driven to perfect playing that piece. JoyTunes' two piano apps, Piano Dust Buster and Piano Mania, feature a wide variety of songs ranging from Beethoven to One Direction and everything in between.
5. Be their biggest fan.
Set aside special times for your children's performances - even if it's just for one song in the living room. Create a system of rewards to encourage them. Anything to encourage more practicing will help them improve their skills, which in turn will make them more excited to continue to learn.
Yuval Kaminka is the founder of JoyTunes, the developers of interactive apps that teach children skills that translate to playing real instruments.