“Do-It-Yourself Music Lessons,” Ensign, Jan. 1999, 73
Many parents want their children to learn to play the piano or another instrument. Because lessons can be costly and teachers may be hard to find, some parents with musical skills choose to give music lessons to their own children. As I’ve taught my two sons to play the piano, I’ve found the following ideas helpful:
Help your child commit to a period of time, such as a year, to take lessons. Agree together that quitting is not an option until that time period ends. Most children are excited to begin lessons, but their interest wanes as lesson material becomes more challenging. Knowing they are committed for a specific time period helps them progress through this stage.
Have your child sign a music lesson contract. The contract can be simple, but it should state what you expect of your child—daily practice and cooperation—and what your child can expect of you—music books and a weekly lesson. A written contract goes a long way in committing both student and parent.
Establish a regular, weekly lesson time—then stick with it. Resist the temptation to simply try to find time each week to fit a lesson into your otherwise busy schedule.
Help your child set a weekly practice goal and fill out a practice log.
Be available during practice sessions to occasionally clap rhythms or help with difficult passages. One of the advantages of teaching your own children is that you can help them practice.
Provide positive rewards for progress. They can be simple things such as stickers when a song is learned or more elaborate treats for more difficult tasks such as completing a book.
Provide children opportunities to perform, beginning at home by playing simple tunes for family home evening or for other occasions.
Make listening to good music a part of your daily life. Play music on the radio when you’re washing dishes, sing during family home evening, and enjoy musical events together as a family. This helps children discover both the beauty of music and the positive contribution it can make to their lives.
Consider using the Church’s Keyboard Course Kit (item no. 33620). It costs just $10 U.S. and helps children learn to read music and play basic hymns.
Above all, don’t give up. It is possible to teach your child to play a musical instrument if you make it a priority and remain committed.—Lisa Ray Turner, Littleton, Colorado