Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Music: Exposure vs Instruction

(Interpreting for *NSYNC)
When I was growing up my mom had no less than 3 lap dulcimers and 2 hammer dulcimers in our house. My brother took a swing at violin and trombone. Me? I tried to get the hang of the french horn. I know, you're totally jealous you didn't live next to us! Those practice sessions must have sounded amazing.

Anywho, my mom was really active in dulcimer groups and played in community festivals and events. I remember fondly going out of state to a dulcimer festival every year. Even built one out of cardboard there. Good times! We did lots of bluegrass and folk festivals, it is the music of my childhood.

As a teen/adult I tried my hand at electric bass guitar and own several pairs of percussive footwear from my days as a rhythm tap dancer. Tim has 3 guitars (2 electric, 1 acoustic) as well as a few different kinds of whistles. Growing up he played the clarinet, drums, a touch of piano and sang in his high school's musicals.

All this to say that we recently had the opportunity to try out a new music education program for kids and it was a fine program, but it left me wondering how much kids learn to really "appreciate" music in those classes? Isn't it better to get them a ukulele or at this age just take them to all kinds of concerts and expose them to what's out there? Let them make a choice and let them try it out??

I guess I just feel like a lot of the programs out there are about "passive" learning. Sure, they give them a shaky egg for a few minutes...but then they are sung to or strummed at...and where does that get them? And, if I hear a Wiggles or Barney song one more time at an attempt to expose kids to things I just might hurl. Do we not think that kids can appreciate jazz or hip hop or trance?

We have VERY different musical tastes in our house, but I try to expose Liam to a new genre at least once a week. Some I could do without, but it's about Liam making his own choices.

And, in our house we really value choice in all things from kinds of jelly to Beethoven or Black Eyed Peas.


  1. Do you have a dulcimer now?

  2. Preach it, Sister! My mom grew up with and loved the Beatles. Even today I can pick out who's singing which song and sing along with 99 of 100 Beatles songs. My dad, however, LOVES classical music AND organ music. I awoke several Saturday mornings to E. Power Biggs organ music blasting on the stereo.

    I performed in my first musical at age 7, played flute, sax and piano, took voice lessons and went on to start my college career as a vocal performance major.

    All that to say that having an eclectic soundtrack for your life and wrapping your hands around an instrument are VALUABLE :-).

    Bring on the ukulele!

    Oh yeah, and if you're mom's around and doing any dulcimer performing, lemme know,cuz I'll be there in a flash. I LOVE the dulcimer!

  3. I also grew up around music. Exposure is SO important. I don't know if I would have the passion for music that I do if my family wasn't so musical. Everyone on my dad's side of the family plays an instrument & sings. Many of them are members of local symphonies or orchestras; I have a cousin who sits 1st chair violin on the Chicago Symphony. It was just a part of life that I'm so grateful for!

    I believe that if you expose a child to music environmentally, they will naturally develop a taste for more, and education won't feel forced, but something they look forward to learning about. And when you think about how universal it is around the world, the lessons it teaches, developing both teamwork & individual skills, it really is an amazing thing.

    I was just validated in our school-choice this weekend when I got a letter home from the music teacher explaining the awesome music curriculum... and have been working on a post similar to this! LOL! Won't have the same title this time. ;)

    BTW, does my dad know your mom? He also plays the dulcimer!

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  5. @ Karen: Nope. I haven't had a dulcimer since middle school.

    @ Mindy: Vocal music major and I've never heard you sing before?? Sounds like you'll be the entertainment at PCRID next year. Grin. My mom sold all her dulcimers back in the early 90's. I wonder if she misses it.

    @ Kelli: Great minds do think alike. Maybe be should pick several same titles for posts and see what the posts themselves end up being like. Might be interesting.

    Wouldn't that be a trip if our parents played together. She mostly played with a group when we lived in Saginaw affiliated with Saginaw General Hospital.

  6. I think I see myself in the front row screaming wildly for *N Sync! ;)


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