Two weeks ago my grandson turned six. In thinking about a present, my wife suggested an electric keyboard. He has shown interest in my guitar but he is too small to be able to handle one. A mini keyboard, though, might be a great introduction to the world of music. So, we bought one and presented it to him last weekend.
According to his mom and dad Josh (and his sister) took to it instantly. We bought a young beginners piano book so he could start to play some tunes. And, being electronic, the keyboard has all sorts of different songs, tones, and drum beats for him to experiment with.
Of course, at age six, he is interested in everything....for a few weeks or so. I was kind of surprised that he wanted to take chess lessons, and did, for almost a month. But dad reports his interest has waned because he isn't winning often enough. Playing chess at his age is not typical just because of the lengthy periods of concentration required. He has a foundation now and may decide to start up again when he is a bit older.
Betty and I are prepared for the keyboard to be the "toy of the moment" and then be put away for now. That is OK. At some point, we are confident he or one of his two sisters will show an interest in music. Then, the keyboard can be pulled from the closet and used again.
I am a firm believer in the importance of music in a child's life. It teaches several lessons that are crucial, even if continuing to make music isn't in the cards. Practice teaches patience and diligence. It teaches one to stick with something long enough to make an informed choice whether to continue or not. It teaches to not give up simply because something is tough. And, it has the potential to provide years and years of enjoyment and self satisfaction.
Like many of my generation, mom and dad started me on piano lessons when I was 8 or 9. After two years we collectively agreed that it wasn't really my instrument. But, I had learned the basics of reading music. For whatever reason I switched to the clarinet and found an instrument I was happier with. Years in school orchestras and bands allowed me to develop enough proficiency to be selected as second chair clarinet in the All New England Band two years in a row.
As high school ended so did my instrument playing. The clarinet was sold and I left for college and other experiences. After almost 40 years I realized that making music was something I wanted to do again, hence the guitar lessons. I have no interest in joining a band or releasing a CD (!), so I am playing strictly for me.
Then, when we gave Josh the keyboard I had a mini-brainstorm. We could have a small family band and make music together! If Josh or his older of the two sisters shows any continuing interest we will play a Christmas carol or two as our family is together around the tree this year. Christmas carols are perfect for kids to learn. Most have no tricky sharps or flats to master and are melodies even young children are familiar with. What fun, and what a nice family tradition!
We'll see if that develops. Someone can't be forced into making music but should be given the tools to do so if interested. Music is one of those parts of life that can enrich and fulfill us like few other things can. If you can make music then the pleasure is even sweeter.
How about you? Any music background or continuing efforts to make sweet music? Maybe we could form a Satisfying Retirement virtual, on-line group and play the health care blues.