Learning to play a musical instrument is a wonderful gift to give your child.
Not only does it promote children’s brain development, it also demands the habit of regular practice to see improvement, helps children learn patience, builds physical coordination, helps them to listen, builds their attention to detail and provides a creative outlet, to name just a few benefits. Even better, children don’t have to be a prodigy to get the benefits, as participating with music is enough. The trick is to find an instrument they will enjoy, and you can use children’s dominant senses to help narrow the choices.
Tactile children will enjoy group lessons, and likely will choose instruments that are physically demanding, like trombones, tubas or cellos. They like being able to physically wrap themselves around an instrument and have a good laugh about it with friends. Tactile children are comforted by rules, and will try to follow them whenever possible, making them great band and orchestra members. They will love being part of an event like a concert, and find a performance in front of an audience exciting and fun.
Visual children prefer order and perfection. They do well with instruments like the piano because they can see the keys, and make the visual connection between their fingers, the keys and the notes. Further, in piano, how the musician plays and looks is very ordered, which is a comfort to visual children. Even better, being able to play the piano is an impressive skill, one that friends and family will appreciate and praise — something very important to visual children.
Auditory children will respond to the freedom of a string instrument. They are equipped with the skills to know, better than their classmates, when a finger is off, making a note sharp or flat. Auditory children will enjoy the freedom of being able to create their own music, or replaying what they hear on the radio, rather than practicing off a score. Try to allow auditory children this freedom in their musical learning.
Taste and smell children respond to instruments with personal connections. They will like the flute or harp, for the way it feels or because it might remind them of a special movie. Taste and smell children may choose an instrument that their favorite cousin plays, or one that Grandma likes. You can use music to teach taste and smell children another way they can express their feelings, as music can be a great outlet for their special brand of sensitivities.
There may be a little trial and error — it’s very common for children to switch instruments — but isn’t that also a good life skill? Children will learn to adjust, restart and find what they truly enjoy. These are skills even parents may need to learn.
Priscilla Dunstan, creator of the Dunstan Baby Language, is a child and parenting behavior expert and consultant and the author of “Child Sense.” Learn more about Dunstan and her parenting discoveries at www.childsense.com.