piano

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2fb1e5b0647671e5927de0437616201eThe beginning of a new year can be a time to refresh and embark on something new. Although “getting healthy” is often on the resolution list for many, it usually refers to things like weight loss, physical exercise or changing eating habits.

But what if part of getting healthy meant doing something for your overall wellbeing? What if you could turn off the stereo and create your own music? What if the word ‘scale’ could mean something to exercise your brain and fingers rather than something you have to step on and avert your eyes?

If that sounds like something that’s more up your alley, then perhaps taking up an instrument should be on your list for 2015!

Learning music is fabulous for your brain and your body: improved coordination, confidence, memory, language skills, creativity…the list goes on and on. Plus, it’s so good for your overall emotional health.  No matter your age, getting a little music in your life is simply a great idea.

But which instrument to choose?

Give some thought to what you naturally gravitate to. Do you think the versatile piano is appealing? What about the friendly ukulele, which gets you started quickly but can offer a lot of challenge, too? Do you love to sing? Do you want to play with others or on your own? Is there an instrument lying around that you’ve always wanted to pick up? What’s in your budget?

The beauty of learning music is that you’re never too old or too young to get started and the options are endless.

Whatever you choose, be prepared that just like investing in your physical health, investing in a musical journey requires some level of dedication, even if it’s just to learn for fun. It doesn’t need to be endless hours of painful practice or boring lessons – the right mix of instrument, teacher and method can make the process a truly enjoyable one so make sure you do your research.

Then get playing and make 2015 your year of music!

 

 

 

850f810af82a5b99037a16787e93e47cThe quick answer here is that kids can – and should! – get involved in music at any age. The type of music instruction is where the answer varies.  It is dependent on many things, including the personality, ability and age of the child, the expectations of parents, the structure of lessons or classes, etc.

It’s well-known that right from infancy children can benefit from musical experiences. While they may seem light and simple to some, those baby music classes are wonderful for little minds and bodies. As toddlers and preschoolers, children become able to feel rhythms, mimic and memorize vocal melodies, and begin to control their hands to allow more structured music-making, which can often involve full body movement, too.  So many benefits start at this young age, from neurological development to coordination skills and more.

Once kids hit school age, the opportunity for exploring additional musical development comes into play for most children. Instruments like piano can be started at this point, when the child can sit through at least a half hour lesson, and can start to learn basic music literacy and coordination skills on the keyboard. Piano is a wonderful instrument to start at any age.

Ukulele is another instrument well-suited to small hands although the ability to have a certain level of finger dexterity and focus is important. While some kids can pick up a fretted instrument at a very young age, a great time to start is around age 8.  At this point, they can master some of the basics and reap the rewards of being able to make music.

All this to say, there is no magic age that is consistent across the board but the general guidelines above can give you some things to think about.  When in doubt, ask a music teacher!  Each child is an individual and you’ll know your own child best. Have a conversation with a music educator who can help you choose what options might suit your child.

Music making is a wonderful experience that every child deserves.

 

There can be a place for music making in the lives of each of us. Music making has the ability to meet many needs and each one just as individual as the person it inhabits.

For some of us, the process of mastering a challenging classical piece fires up our neurons and fills us with energy and focus.Hands Playing Piano

For others, the rewards of learning are found in making music within a group, whether a garage band, community orchestra, song circle or a cappella choir, helping us feel part of something meaningful and teaching us to work “in tune” with others, creating cohesive musical sounds.

There can be literal healing in the making of music, such as in the case of Gabrielle Giffords who, after sustaining a gunshot wound to the head, worked to rebuild her ability to speak through singing therapy.

It can be the outlet for working through challenging times, such as coping with a major life event, depression or illness. Songwriting, in particular, has been known to work miracles here.

Some individuals have never believed they could even be musical. In this instance, the opportunity to simply make music at the most basic level is a thrill.

Music builds minds. It also builds hearts, character, culture and connection.  It offers relief and growth, challenge and reward.  And most of all, it’s a language we can all understand.