Posted: January 24, 2015 8:44am

I cannot play an instrument and I really regret it and once I had my children I was desperate for them to learn.

Not having any musical training I felt out of my depth and had lots of questions!

At what age should they start? How often should they practice ? Do they need an instrument ?

I was so lucky to be recommended  Music Maps by a great friend Jemima. Music Maps found us the fabulous Natasha.

I love their philosophy, this recommendation,  is not for the Tiger Mum, this is for the parent who wants their child to love and appreciate music and enjoy playing an instrument.

All I can say is that Luella waits at the door for Natasha, ahe never wants to miss a class and practices without me having to bribe her, what more could I ask for !

She was at five able to play Jingle Bells and that is  coming  from a family where Capital Radio reigns and we know more about Taylor Swift than Beethoven!

I asked Natasha to share with us her top tips,which I  hope you find useful!

 

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Natasha Larkin – Piano and Violin tutor (MusicMaps and freelance tutoring):

Having been teaching children and adults to play the piano and violin for several years now, I have built up a wide range of experience and skills to instill and develop the best musical talents in each and every pupil. With each new pupil, I face new challenges, surprises, talents and inspiring moments, all the time stretching and broadening my skills and techniques as a teacher in order to tailor my teaching to each individual pupil.

I am often asked ‘what is the best age to start learning?’ or ‘are they too young to start piano lessons?

My initial answer is always the same, it depends on the child, parents and teacher.

I believe it is never too early to begin exploring music with a child and discover their musicality at the same time.

A child’s own interest and motivation towards music is the best place to start, add that to a supportive, encouraging parental network and a patient enthusiastic teacher, and a child is ready to learn!

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At a younger age of around 3 or 4 years old, it can be useful to spend some time introducing musical sounds, games, ideas, as well as freely exploring the instrument, before adding reading music and keeping up with a structured tuition book into the mix.

Not only does this develop their initial interest in the lessons by forming a relaxed, fun, creative atmosphere, but also a child can learn many musical terms and small tunes without even realising it.

One of the best things about the piano is the instant, perfect sound that can be created by simply pressing a key, and it doesn’t take long to learn a three note melody, even with small miniature fingers!

My main aim when teaching is to develop and nurture musicality and passion within the child, whilst inspiring and ensuring enjoyment and pride within their playing.

Providing flexibility within lessons, whether through structure, variety or choice can create a stimulating experience within lessons, catering to the individual child, their needs, skills and personality.

This leads me onto practise, another subject I am often asked about, ‘how much, how long’ or simply ‘how?’

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The best approach is short practise as often as possible.

It’s not unusual for children to be opposed to practise, in fact I would say its natural!

However there are ways to make it easier, starting with the most effective, parent and family encouragement, from reminding, listening, supporting to maybe even asking for a performance!

I often introduce a practise reward chart, a simple brightly coloured weekly tick sheet, with the rewards of stickers.

With many younger children this works really well, they become to take pride in being able to show me there full tick sheet the following week and love choosing their sticker.

I also use notebooks or sticky notes to help and guide parents about what they should be practising as well as writing encouraging comments each week.

This goes alongside the sticker rewards I always use at the end of each lesson, children just love stickers and it helps to have a two minute discussion about what they have achieved and their hard work in the lesson.

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Teaching instrumental lessons to children can be as inspiring for myself as I hope it is for them too.

Given the correct guidance, encouragement and sometimes an extra push, children can really surprise themselves and others through their musical achievements.

Whether that be the first time they play with two hands, performing at school, passing an exam or learning to play a song from Frozen!!

Contact Music Maps on 02033974850 or email start@musicmaps.org.uk

 

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