Grantham Journal Big Interview: Make music lesson a ‘want-to’ not ‘have-to’

Tom Simmonds. 276D ENGEMN00120130613101536
Tom Simmonds. 276D ENGEMN00120130613101536

Many parents hope their child will pick up a musical instrument when they are young. However, there is no guarantee that by giving your child an instrument they will love it.

Tom Simmonds, a musician of 25 years and owner of Simmonds Music in Grantham, has taught children music in his Westgate shop for years and knows a thing or two about encouraging children into music without becoming the dreaded ‘pushy parent’.

Is there a subtle way to get children into music?

You don’t have to resort to bribery or tricks – the best way is just to make it part of your everyday life. Have music on around the house and they will consider it part of the daily routine. Young children in particular like dancing to music so encourage them to play and have fun while the music is playing.

I’ve got my child interested in music but they are resistant to lessons.

Enjoying music and playing music are two very different things. If your child is hesitant about taking lessons, you can always get them a second-hand instrument and let them practice at home in their own time first. Once they’ve got to grips with it, you can broach the subject of lessons. Play them recorded pieces of their instrument to encourage them and show them what they can accomplish with practice. You can also try group activities that introduce children to instruments in a relaxed, shared-participation setting.

My child is talented so why not push them into lessons?

Turning music into a chore rather than a pleasure is a sure-fire way to put them off. When you force them you are turning it into a ‘have-to’ activity, rather than a ‘want-to’. Children should be passionate about learning to play. No matter how talented a child is, they won’t continue their lessons into adulthood if you make it an unpleasant experience in their childhood.

My child wants to switch instruments. Are they just losing interest in music in general?

Not necessarily. There are many reasons why a child may want to change instruments. It may be that the first instrument has lost its appeal and they wish to try something new. It is best to let them try new instruments than force them to continue with an instrument they are no longer interested in. But don’t swap your guitar for an oboe straightaway, give them time to try out their new interest in case they change their mind. In the end, it could simply be that your child does not wish to continue learning music. As stated previously, the worst thing to do is force your child to carry on. Give them space to explore new hobbies and you may find they return to their music lessons in their own time.