We all want to see our children flourish. As parents we try to teach our kids the lessons they need to become happy, productive members of society. We try to impress upon then the need for cooperation and help them develop self-confidence. One tool parents often overlook that works on all fronts is music. To understand what makes music so valuable you first need to examine what teamwork and self-confidence are.
A strong sense of self-confidence has two components. The first is talent, and the second is the understanding that one has talent. True self-confidence cannot happen without both. Belief in talent one does not possess is hubris; it’s pride. If you have talent but do not believe it the result is shyness.
You can see how this works at many stages of your life. If you know anyone who has stage fright, or is fearful of public speaking, you know what it looks like when someone does not believe in one’s own talent. If you have seen someone act like an expert when he clearly is not, then you have seen what it looks like when someone has belief without talent to back it up.
When one has talent and knows it, and is comfortable with his or her own expertise, that person is confident. You’ve seen that, too, every time you see a professional athlete in competition, famous performers on stage, or public speakers in action like politicians or newscasters.
Teamwork is the extension of self-confidence. When you have confidence in yourself you are better able to see and have faith in the abilities of others. Teamwork also has two parts. Each member has confidence in his or her ability to contribute to the team. Each member also needs to have faith in the abilities of the other members of the team.
Building confidence and teamwork skills in children
Confidence and teamwork skills are built through group activities. Children improve their skills while also seeing the skills of others develop. The child learns to have confidence in his or her abilities through practice, and to trust in the abilities of others through activities in which all put their skills to use as a group.
There are many activities that can fit the bill as teachers of confidence and teamwork. The go-to activity in American culture is participation in athletics. There are two glaring problems with that approach, however.
The first is that sports are, by nature, competitive. While a child may learn confidence and teamwork skills there is always an overtone of opposition with sports. There is always someone who is, for lack of a better term, the enemy.
The second is that athletic ability is heavily dependent upon physical size, strength, and health. If your child is not a tall, impressively fit, and healthy kid then your child has an uphill battle to fight.
How music fits in
Music is different than athletics for a few reasons. The first is that, unlike athletics, everyone has some degree of hardwired, intuitive connection to music. The best example of it is this two-minute video in which, Bobby McFerrin demonstrates that any random audience can keep rhythm and stay in tune. It’s amazing.
The second is that music is by nature cooperative and creative. While musical competitions do exist, they are not a necessary part of music. The musical experience can be absolutely positive without building a sense of opposition from others involved with it.
How to get a child interested in music
This is actually simpler than it sounds. Children are naturally inclined to like music, which is why they love it when we sing Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star to them. As they grow they may become less interested in it as their child-like fearlessness begins to fade. Sparking renewed interest is the same when it comes to music as it is with anything else: make it fun.
What we can learn from video games and movies
The Rock Band series of video games taught the world that kids will flock by the millions to participate in the experience of being a musician, providing that the experience is cool. The 2003 movie The School of Rock taught us that kids can be talented musicians and, at the end, included a scene in which the main character opens a rock and roll music school for kids.
In the wake of the movie such schools actually sprang into existence and have become very popular.
How to find a rock and roll school
The easiest way to find a rock and roll school for your child is on the internet. In the digital age they are very likely to have web sites of their own. In many cases they are part of larger organizations involved in music instruction or instrument sales.
A great example can be found at the Long and McQuade site at the bottom of the page. Their blurb talks about instruments taught and mentions that they teach technical skills as well, like stage lighting and sound stage technology. That’s a great combination because in addition to teaching music it gives associated skills that will let your child develop independence and carry his or her musical talent for life without relying on others for the skills that go along with performing.
Look for full-featured programs like that when selecting one for your child. A good program should be able to provide instruments, provide lessons in performance, and teach the associated skills.
Your kids will develop confidence, teamwork skills, and have a talent that will make them happy and bring joy to others for life, long after athletic skills would have faded. Remember, two things happened in 1962: The Green Bay Packers won the NFL Championship game, and The Rolling Stones were formed. One of them was at the Super Bowl in 2006, and it wasn’t the Packers.