Music and Children a Lesson Learned

We had always loved music and when our two daughters were born it just seemed natural that they would grow up to be musicians. We would teach them to read music, they could chose their own instruments and play in an orchestra. With our daughters now 26 and 28 years of age we can look book with some perspective on how thing’s didn’t quite work out the way we had wanted but in the end all was well.

From their early years it was obvious that our girls loved music and would share our joy of listening and playing. They learned to read music, chose their instruments, took their exams and played with others. However they wouldn’t carry on their classical music beyond their early teens and although the Cello and Violin are still in their rooms they remain untouched for the last ten years.

Was this a failure and had we done wrong by our girls? Well when we sat down and talked to them about what they remember and what stayed with them this is what they said.

Every year we would drive to France for a camping holiday. It was a long time on the road and to help pass the miles we bought each girl a cassette player so they could listen to Roald Dahl stories. Their favorite was Fantastic Mr Fox which was accompanied by a hunting horn. They still remember the tunes and the fun we had singing along. These are warm memories.

They started senior school at 12 years of age and this involved Dad driving them there and back each day. Altogether about 1 hour per day in the car. What I didn’t know then was that the music which I played on the car CD player would forever become associated with those school years. They talk about the year I used to play the Eagles songs and how this was followed by Elton John. These songs have stayed with them.

But what about the classical music teaching? Sure the skills have stayed with them but I think that what happened was that it all became too similar to their school work. In their mind this was just another lesson and those times don’t really carry forward as good memories.

So what can we say about all this? Apart from the obvious admonition against being too ambitious for your children the real lesson is that simple things, learned with love and a sense of joining in will be remembered down the years.

Colin Corlett, the writer, lives in the North of England and enjoys exploring Northumberland’s cottages. His daughters now listen to music which he doesn’t understand and can’t see the sense of. However they are happy and will one day pick up that Cello again.

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