“Talent hits a target no one else can hit; Genius hits a target no one else can see!” My take, you can’t prove to be either if you don’t even try to hit the target!!
While we as parents, do take additional efforts to make sure a child puts efforts towards continual improvement with academics for obvious reasons and sports for a certain degree of fitness,we often are conditioned to believe you are either born a #MusicalGenius or not.
But think of this it this way..Is your kid a passionate bathroom singer? Do you find her drumming her fingers to the beat? Do you find him humming or making up silly songs? I can’t imagine a single kid who would n’t enjoy doing these things. Simply put, Music is what feeling sounds like. (Try this “Happy” song and see if you can resist clapping along! )
So how do we as parents nurture their musical passion and abilities without overwhelming them or creating frustration, especially if we come from non-musical backgrounds like ours? Here are some ideas to experiment with as I did with my own kids..
Making music be a part of their life consciously:
Most early music lessons teach children how to play what someone else has created, because that is how traditionally music is learned. However as it happened in my case learning Carnatic music at the age of 6, sometimes the songs are in a different language or evoke emotions( deep love, sorrow) children don’t even understand.
On the other hand, songs like Let it go( Frozen) and I like to move it (Madagascar) or even the ever green “ Do a deer..” are loved by all children alike. As children begin to understand and enjoy music, they slowly begin to interpret music.
Encourage them to write their own and they begin to understand and appreciate music in new ways. (A friend of mine takes English Songs class just to have kids enjoymusic.. she had them makeup a poem /lyrics for song and they added a tune in class. I can’t even begin to describe the delicious fun they had making up songs on Coffee and pancakes!!
Broaden their horizons with exposure
Children need to hear and learn to appreciate different styles and genres of music. You never know what’s going to inspire your child. My daughter’s school, Shishuvan has a neat concept of learning music that pertains to the curriculum. So she learnt Abhangs while doing Maharashtra in Geography and now as they are doing the Bhakti Movement in History, she is deliriously drunken in Tulsidas Meera Bhajans and Sufi Songs.
Also, just because a child started in one genre or on one instrument, doesn’t mean she won’t go even further with something else! Another friends son tried the piano for a while and gave it up, but she found an instrument called Djemebe( a kind of a drum, I had even heard of it before ..) But he loves it and is glad to practise for hours!
Create opportunities for them to Perform
A “performance” need not only be on stage for a big crowd. It can be in your living room for your family and friends. Why, my friend even encourages her newly guitar crazy son to go and play “Happy Birthday” on the guitar to all his friends in the building. Performing for audiences build a child’s confidence and encourage him to continue learning. As they get better, enrol them in competitions but always emphasize the importance of doing their best and learn from watching others who do better as role models, rather than the win/lose idea.
Additionally today there are unbelievable opportunities like the i-genius Young Singing Stars for the truly gifted to showcase their talent and grow with the expert guidance of established experts like Salim Merchant and Shraddha Sharma.
Provide support for managing multiple activities
As kids today have many activities, balancing school, sports often more than one, music, art, reading ( to my kids an hour of reading is a must!) is a tough task. Time management is an acquired skill and without regular practice, as with anything else, musical skills will not take flight.. so as parents, I believe here is one area we need to step in .. not micro monitor and make it painful, but by helping them with planners to help them realise talents that may not blossom without effort.
And the last nudge from the man synonymous with Genius.. Albert Einstein.. “If I were not a physicist, I would probably be a musician. I often think in music. I live my daydreams in music. I see my life in terms of music. … I get most joy in life out of music” Not many know that Einstein was an accomplished musician too. And that his great passion for music actually played a vital role in the shaping of the theory of relativity!
So, take that first step and infuse the wondrous beauty of music to enrich your child’s life.