I’ve been playing piano for a long time.  2 and a half decades long.  I remember when I was a kid hearing people talk about playing for 10 years or 15 years – which seemed like an eternity to me at the time.  I’m currently at 25 going on 26 years.  Yikes!!

Over the last 25 years I’ve talked to countless people after they’ve heard me play – whether that be at church, a recital, an event, a wedding, and so on.  The conversations almost exclusively go the same.  “I loved your playing.  I took piano for (insert whole number here) years.  I wish I never would have quit.”  This statement is accompanied by a forlorn look.

So, I’m here to throw out a suggestion to you parents who have your kids enrolled in something (whether music or other).  Build in a (small) reward system.  It only makes sense.  When was the last time you tried to learn something new?  It’s exhausting.  It’s frustrating.  It tugs on your brain.  It is only natural that your child will eventually grow weary of his/her activity – regardless of the chunk of money you are investing into it.

Depending on your son or daughters activity you are potentially investing in the thousands of dollars per year, per kid.  Take about $1/wk to help that massive investment go further.  What’s $50 when you’re already spending so much more??

REWARD IDEAS:

Ideas that are free:

-Show a lot of interest.  Feign interest if necessary.  Act excited.  Sing along.  Say “I loved that (song, dance move, basketball shot, etc.) so much. Please show me again (and again and again and again and so on).

-Show them off to family and friends.  Do this often!!  It will let your child know how proud you are but it will also get them practicing and performing. Have Grandma listen to that violin scale over the phone.  Do a mini piano-recital when aunts and uncles are over.  Have the little munchkin show of his latest karate moves to a buddy.

-Videotape and take pictures.  Nothing says “I’m so proud” more than capturing the moment for eternity.  Every once in a while take some family time to rewatch these old videos.  Note progress.

-Sit with your child at lessons and while he/she practices as much as possible.

-Ask your child to teach you something about his/her hobby.

$1/wk ideas:

-Offer $1/wk for a good week of practice/lesson.

-Take a trip to the dollar store after a good week of practice/lesson.

-Snag an ice cream cone after a good week of practice/lesson.

-Set up a small monetary value for practice times and have a seperate piggy bank for the money they earn through practicing  (a dime or a quarter a day or something).

Other ideas:

-long term rewards that are related to hobby (a piece of sheet music, new soccer socks, a sewing book)

-put up framed pictures of kid participating in activity

-utilize Christmas/birthday gifts to show your support

The initial excitement will eventually wear off.  That’s only natural.  Protect your investment!!

Can I take a moment to brag on my little niece and nephew???  These two have some innate musical ability.  I see S as a composer down the road and M leading worship in some huge arena.  Both of these videos were taken after playing piano for only FIFTEEN DAYS!

 

Have you tried out music lessons for your child?  They may have an undiscovered talent.

In between wiping noses and changing diapers there’s not much time to stop and think of your child all grown up and living as an adult.  But everyone says it happens in the blink of an eye.  My husband and I have talked a little about what we think our kids might do when they are older but it is hard to say what the economic climate and hot jobs will be 20 years from now.

Currently, the median years a person stays at one job is about four.  In the course of a lifetime, most will have between seven and ten jobs.  Gone are the days of 30 years at Ford and then retirement with a pension and continued health benefits.

It seems we need to provide our kids as many marketable skills as possible so they can be adaptable to economic change.  Music is surely a marketable skill.  Between my husband and I we have made money through music in the following ways:

-teaching private lessons
-playing in bands
-playing in church
-playing for weddings
-playing for funerals
-recording in studios
-playing for holiday/special parties

We’ve been doing these things for over 15 years so you can imagine that would add up!  At times, the extra money from the music jobs has gotten us by so that we could get groceries, etc.

My brother, Luke and his wife, Jenny graduated from college within the past few years with teaching degrees.  They both are phenomenal teachers – but given the current economy have been substitute teaching for the past few years.  They both have great attitudes about their current job situation but they (like many others) have had to do some work on the side to make ends meet.  Jenny runs an amazing custom invitation business ( http://www.vivianelleinvitations.com/ ) and Luke started a guitar teaching studio ( http://lukesguitarlessons.weebly.com/ ) out of his home a few years ago.

For the purpose of this blog, I wanted to focus on Luke (who’s musical prowess began with piano lessons).  Luke currently has over 20 guitar students.  He has all sorts of offerings, including group lessons.  As the man of his household it is awesome that he is able to juggle this extra job to help provide for his family.  It is clear that he really enjoys teaching the lessons and another added benefit is that he doesn’t have to leave his home for this second job.

We can’t tell the future for our kids but we can try and provide them with a lot of money making options for their adult life.

If your child is taking any sort of music lessons continue to encourage them with their progress.  They can do so much with their music currently and down the road!

Enjoying a group lesson with teacher Luke
Luke (left) enjoys teaching private guitar lessons out of his home and it
is also a great supplement to his family’s income.
Jenny is also an entrepreneur!  She design amazing custom invitations!!
Her specialty is weddings but she does it all (showers, babies, kids birthdays, holidays, etc…)

Learning an instrument is somewhat like learning a new language.  There’s quite a bit to take in those first few lessons.  It is SO amazing for your child’s brain.  Here is a list of just SOME of the things your child will encounter in those first few lessons:

-all the note names on the piano
-the concept of high notes and low notes
-counting, rhythm, and note values
-hand position
-posture
-reinforcement of right hand/left hand
-doing several things at once (i.e. singing and playing)
-twins and triplets (those black keys)
-finger numbers (associating a note name with the appropriate hand AND finger number)

As the teacher I can just see those little brains going… connecting note name with note value with proper hand with proper posture and positioning with the right finger number all while counting out loud!!

By the end of lesson one all kids are playing between one and three songs!  It truly is amazing to see that spongy mind of a child.  Here is my niece M playing “See the Sea Lion”… the first of many pieces to come!

I want this blog to make a case for music lessons for kids because there are so many opportunities that carry on into adulthood that your child can do with his/her music.  Just in the past one week I could highlight:

-two summer concerts in the park that Josh and I played in (3500 people in Plymouth)
-serving at Oak Pointe Milford campus for worship
-filling in for  band at the 707 youth group service last night
-starting a company with a friend that will focus on wedding/funeral/corporate holiday party music
-my own personal enjoyment practicing each night after the kids go to bed (I’m working on ear training and voicing… picking out a Norah Jones tune, some Paul Simon, and an Israel Houghton piece)

But the coolest opportunity came through a friend who let me know of a neighbor who was selling a beautiful piano for $200.  Through a series of phone calls with moving companies that piano now sits at Nana’s and today I was able to give my 7 year old niece and 9 year old nephew their first piano lessons!

Within 30 minutes these two were actually playing pieces!  I’d say this was my best music moment of the week.

After this we played some hide-and-seek outside.  J’s hiding spot may have caused some permanent damage to the landscaping…….

There is certainly a cost involved with raising children.  This becomes more apparent when the time comes to start enrolling your kids in things… lessons, sports, art classes, camps, etc.  I have a friend who is deliberate about putting her daughter in activities that will continue to be cheap (i.e. rollerskating).

Of course there is a benefit to allowing your child to try different activities – but how do you choose which ones to do?  How do you find balance when there are so many things to choose from?  How do you afford it?

Once again my thoughts shift toward music – a passion that can be lifelong with many creative outlets.  A passion that can make your child money in the long run (I began teaching private lessons at that age of 15).

At the Yurich piano studio lessons cost $100/month.  It averages out to around $25/30 min lesson.  I have gotten many different responses to this amount.  If you research, you will find there are lessons that are a little cheaper and some that are much more expensive.  Beyond comparing to other lessons however it interests me to compare to other activities.

For example, lets say you want to enroll your son or daughter in ballet.  You could expect to pay between $60 and $150 a month for tuition.  In addition to tuition, there is the cost of dance shoes, dance clothes, and accessories.  Most schools hold an annual dance recital that has a fee attached as well as recital costumes that cost $75 a piece on average.  My kids sometimes grow 3 inches in a week so those shoes, clothes, and costumes may not last that long.  In contrast, I still have my piano books from 1985.  They cost a few dollars a piece and I can now use them to teach my little dudes and dudette.

J – starting him young

As parents we tend to follow in the footsteps of our own parents.  My bias towards music lessons is certainly skewed due to my upbringing and current usage of this gift of music.  But logically doesn’t it really seem to make sense?  I mean, I haven’t seen any grandmas wearing leotards anytime recently.  Of course, the benefits of any type of children’s activity involve confidence, team work, mental and physical growth, etc.  For us, we hope to have the balance of activities that will include the above benefits but also be as far reaching as possible.

With the economy where it’s at I’d love for our kids to have as many skills and talents as possible that will take them into adulthood.  5,000 out 7,500 graduating college students who are looking for teaching jobs will have to move out of Michigan this year.  Maybe my next post will be about my brother who has built for himself a guitar teaching empire to help him and his wife make ends meet as they substitute teach.  Yes, I think that’s what I will do.  Next post: featuring Luke (FOS) Haddad.

As  I grow increasingly tired of the 90 degree, humid weather my thoughts have shifted toward the fall.  The fall this year at our house means SCHOOL!!  That’s homeschool for us :).  J will be three and V is nearing two so we will be working together on numbers and letters, reading and counting, colors and seasons – all the fun stuff that they don’t understand at all yet.  J told me the other day that he had been working on building his train track for “one hundred years”.  He needs some schooling :).

Aside from the smaller lessons I have three main goals for the school year: potty training (might be passing that buck off to my MIL), learning to swim (that will greatly aid me NEXT summer when C is walking around), and music lessons.

Since I will be teaching the kiddos everything else I have finally decided that I will continue that trend on the piano.  I have a good deal of knowledge I’ll be able to pass down before moving them on to a different teacher or instrument.

As I part from my first blog post I am curious about your plans and dreams for the fall.  That crisp, fall weather also brings along a hope and excitement about a new year.  Are you getting ready for school?  What activities will your kids participate in?  Not to self-promote but I will pass along some wisdom from my mother who always pointed out the 75 year olds who could still play the piano… but you would be hard pressed to find them on the soccer field.  Not that I am against the value of team sports but it does seem to reason to enroll your child in something that is far reaching (such as music).

I will use this blog to capture the kids music moments as well as some other fun memories.  I will also be the occasional reminder to encourage your child in music – whether that be singing or playing the clarinet.  This is a lifelong gift you can give to your little one.

J on stage with his play guitar

The picture above is at Oak Pointe church during our Sunday morning run through.  J is practicing on his play guitar right next to the real thing.  We love these early music experiences we can provide for the kids.  They love to be around it.  I think that very soon they will have their own set of skills and talents they will be able to use for God, for themselves, and for others.

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