Include Lessons with Gifts of Musical Instruments


Plenty of parents will be giving musical instruments this year to gauge their child’s level of interest before plunging into lessons. However, consider how important proper instruction is to reinforce your child’s interest and success. The investment in music lessons may be one of the greatest gifts your child receives, whether he or she continues to play or eventually loses interest.

Eileen, a BirminghamMom of three boys (now grown), recalls that she was given a guitar as a young girl but did not receive professional training. Although she taught herself well enough to enjoy the instrument, she told her boys that if they wanted any instrument they would also have to commit to lessons. All three of her sons took guitar lessons and two still play for their own enjoyment. However, one son went on to major in music at Montevallo and now plays and instructs professionally in New York City. Long term, Eileen has had the satisfaction of seeing her son nurture a talent and develop a career that he can take anywhere. Even if you don’t have a future professional on your hands – Taylor Swift hopes aside – music education will benefit your child even after the instrument is packed away.

Lisa, a BirminghamMom of three, took guitar lessons along with her oldest son starting when he was nine years old.  Their lessons were scheduled back-to-back and they worked with the instructor for a total of an hour each Saturday. With her son beginning the lesson with his chords and Lisa finishing the lesson working on her own selections, Lisa says that this helped both of them reinforce their learning during both the lessons themselves and their practice sessions at home. Their mutual interest in the guitar became a shared learning experience for both.

Music stores typically keep a listing of  their recommended instructors. Ellis Piano has a list of helpful questions to ask when selecting an instructor. Other sources for instructors are the music departments at UAB, Samford, or Montevallo (instructors and graduate students often teach private lessons) and even houses of worship. Congregations often have musical staff who offer instruction and some have formal programs (see Arts Academy at Hunter Street Baptist Church).

Imagine, years from now your family could be singing “Silent Night” with your child as the accompanist.