From the very beginning of my parenting journey, I’ve known that I wanted my children to take music lessons at some point. As a child, I played piano during my elementary school years and then clarinet in junior high school. Although I’m clearly not a concert musician by any means, having the opportunity to play an instrument as a child did instill some very important values within me that I carry through adulthood. Experts say that music lessons as a child helps to develop the following in children:
- Sense of confidence & self-esteem
- Increased social skills
- Academic improvement and retention
- Cognitive reasoning
- Motor functions/Hand-eye coordination
- Physical well being
- Cultural awareness
- Lowers anxiety
- Self expression
- Helps create discipline
So, it was a no brainer that as soon as they were old enough, I’d start them on an instrument. Like all things parenting, we ran into our first challenge early on. We put Leila (who was around 7 at the time) into piano lessons at a local music school. I thought she’d be as into it as I was at that age, but of course, I was wrong. She took very little interest in both going to her lessons and practicing at home. Her first recital came around and we dragged our very unprepared and unwilling child to perform. She had absolutely no confidence and didn’t want to even go up there without her teacher, but managed to get up there and perform a number I would lovingly call “Jingle Hell.” Seriously, it was Jingle Bells, but you’d never be able to recognize the song without me telling you that was what she was playing. *face palm*. As a surprise to no one, I took her out of those lessons after that and decided we’d let her decide if she wanted to do this ever again.
So when I was approached by Guitar Center offering her music lessons through their relatively new custom music curriculum program, I was a bit hesitant. They offer music programs for multiple instruments – piano, voice, guitar and more – and for some reason, I initially asserted that we would pick up the piano lessons again. Leila was – or seemed- game to do the piano lessons again and we were set up to start those. Then, in a strange twist of fate, Leila’s Girl Scout troop had a vision board activity and as I looked at her vision board, noticed a picture of a guitar there. When I asked her about it, she expressed that she has always had an interest or a dream to play guitar one day, though it scared her a little bit to try it. I asked her if she had the opportunity to learn to play guitar, would she want to go for it and she said yes. I immediately switched our lesson plan from piano and guitar and just as we prepared to go to our first lesson, I informed Leila of the change. “Not piano?” she asked. I said, “No, we are fulfilling your vision of learning to play piano.” She silently smirked and gave me the warmest hug.
When we arrived at Guitar Center for our first lesson, we got a peek into literally the world of music. If you’ve ever been to a Guitar Center, you know that the store features a wide array of musical instruments and tools and is usually occupied by individuals who carry an immense passion for music, whether a particular instrument or the beauty of sound itself. This experience was no different. We toured the store and saw the many instrument choices and again, I asked her if this was what she wanted to do and without hesitation, she said “Yes!”
I should add that it was particularly reassuring to learn that at Guitar Center, in addition to having multiple professionally trained instructors who can both play and teach multiple instruments, they also allow students to easily switch instruments if needed. Now, while I appreciate that option, I’m hoping we won’t have to do this because we’ve finally found “the one.” And I do think we have just based off of some cues I’d gotten from our first lesson.
With that said, here are some of the cues I noticed and how to find the right musical instrument for your child.
Consider the physical factors
Age, body type and even things like wearing braces are important factors in choosing the right music instrument for your child. Our guitar instructor did tell us that while there’s no age limit, there is an advantage to starting an instrument once a child has developed the necessary muscle function and is big enough to hold or play the
instrument. We loved the fact that Guitar Center also has a wide variety of instruments we can use for practicing on, so we are able to try out different guitar sizes to see which one Leila is most comfortable at her size.
Music is a form of expression, there’s no denying that. I remember even as far back as my band class in Junior High, I could honestly say that each kid was a reflection of the instrument they played. While Leila is a pretty shy kid sometimes, I could see how as much as she engaged in the “minor” more solemn chords, she really got into the upbeat chords of the guitar and I could literally see her light up as they switched between the two.
Practicality – Size and Budget
Let’s not forget that music lessons do not end after instruction. Your child will need to practice at home, which means you are either buying or renting an instrument AND hauling it back and forth. I love the fact that Guitar
Center allows you to use their instruments during instruction, but eventually we will go ahead and purchase a guitar to take home with us. Budget-wise, finding an affordable, used guitar is a great option we’re offered at Guitar Center. Likewise, let’s just say, I’m happy the guitar is lightweight!
Passion for the instrument
This is actually the number one factor in choosing the right instrument for your child. As I shared earlier, where I went wrong was assuming that just because Leila could physically play the piano, she actually wanted to. I noticed during our last lesson that even in between instruction, Leila would still play around on the guitar and experiment with different sounds, something I’d never seen her do with other instruments. She recognized the guitar beat in songs she loves and genuinely has an interest to emulate those sounds herself.
Now, of course, we are still just starting out and I’m hoping she continues to love this instrument and keep the desire to grow as a guitar player. I’ll be sure to keep you all posted!
More about Guitar Center
Guitar Center’s Five Key Differentiators:
Our Curriculum – Guitar Center has created custom curriculum focusing on teaching theory
through contemporary music. All curriculum programs are approved by the National Association
for Music Education, the world’s largest arts education organization. We can also help tailor
curriculum to your goals and interests with a database on thousands of songs to learn.
The Convenience – With over 200 locations nationally, brand-new facilities Guitar Center
Lessons is a one-stop shop. From lessons to retail to instrument repairs to supplemental learning
materials, Guitar Center can cover any aspiring student’s needs. Our program gives students the
ability to continue learning on the go with online resources and the ability to schedule at any
Pro Instructors with a Passion for Music – All Guitar Center Lessons instructors are passionate,
playing musicians who want to help you reach YOUR musical goals. Based on your needs and
wants we’ll pair you with the instructor that is right for you. With weekly office hours to help
supplement your education, our instructors are here to make sure you have everything you
need to become the musician you want to be.
Contemporary Instrumentation – We offer more than violin. You can take any instrument,
anywhere. We can make sure you have the musical foundation to achieve any level or expertise
on any instrument. We know learning music can be so much more enjoyable when you’re
playing what you love.
Our Achievement Program – We help students monitor their progress with our 6 tiered program
and go from Opening Act to Headliner in as much or as little time as you need.
Find a Guitar Center near you and follow them on Social!
Disclosure: This post is sponsored by The Motherhood and Guitar Center. As always, all opinions are mine alone.