Lesson 82: Expose students to lots of music
At one of my city’s local malls, there is a little stage where some sort of musical performance happens every Friday night. While my granddaughter and I were having dinner at a café near the stage, the music started up, a little jazz ensemble, and she hopped down from the bar stool and just started dancing. Her mom used to do the same thing. I decided at that moment that I was going to expose this little one to as much music as I could whenever we had the opportunity to “hang out.” This is where being a “super supportive parent (and grandparent) becomes a whole lot of fun!
One weekend I took my granddaughter into Seattle to the Experimental Music Project Museum to see a Hello Kitty exhibit. While we were passing from one area to the next, we encountered a junior high school orchestra playing in the large area off the entrance. I thought my granddaughter would just hurry right through on her way to see more Hello Kitty stuff. Contrary to what I thought, she wanted to sit down and listen, so we did. She sat very politely, listened intently, shushing me at one point when I said something to her, and clapped loudly when they were finished. I don’t even think she knew what classical music was, but she knew it sounded pretty and wanted to listen.
We have seen a couple of animated musical movies together – Moana, Sing, and the recent dance movie, Leap. There is no way we can leave once the credits start rolling because she wants to get in the aisle and start dancing . . . until the music stops. And that “dancing to the music” doesn’t just happen at the movies. When she was around three years old, she would jump off my lap during church and dance as the congregation would sing the hymns.
She has attended a few of my studio recitals, loves to sit in the front row, and is pretty attentive for a six-year old! One of my students was performing at a park with another studio and I wanted to go hear him but I was caring for my granddaughter at the time. I told her I wanted to go hear some music in the park and she started jumping up and down and clapping. The weather was not very cooperative, but she stood and listened to the music, and was joined by a friend who was at the park that day.
And most recently I took her to see Aladdin at Seattle’s historic Paramount Theatre. We had tickets two rows back from the stage, right in the middle of all the more mature season ticket holders. I was a little nervous about the wiggles and nonstop talking that is characteristic of a first grader, but she did great sitting for those 2.5 hours. I was watching her reactions almost more than I was watching the show! She loved the music and as we were walking back to the car, she was skipping and humming.
The cherry on top? Just this week she asked her mom if she could take “singing lessons” from gramma!
Kids won’t know all the styles and genres of music unless they are exposed to them. Granted, they get exposed, possibly overexposed, to what’s playing on the radio or their phone’s playlist, but the world is so much wider than what they are listening too. Be a super supportive parent and open their musical world. Check out your local listings of entertainment and arts events. Just recently I saw an ad for a Halloween Children’s Concert produced by the Lake Washington Symphony Orchestra, including an instrument “petting zoo.” Can’t wait to take my granddaughter to this event. Fun times!
Sally Palmer owns Sally L. Palmer Music Studio in Bellevue, Washington. She has over 40 years experience as a piano and vocal teacher and coach, and is an accomplished accompanist. She is the author of Six-Word Lessons for Exceptional Music Lessons.