There are so many wonderful and proven benefits to a strong music education program for students. The National Association for Music Education (NAfME) cites increased confidence, improved memory function, development of language and reasoning centers of brain, development of spatial intelligence, and discipline and dedication among the myriad reasons a strong music education is important to students of all ages.
With budget cuts across the country, many parents and students in public school districts are seeing that their favorite arts programs are being lowered in minutes or not offered at all. So how can you give your child the benefit of music education while still maintaining a healthy budget? Is it possible to have weekly lessons that don’t add up to another $100 per month? It certainly is!
1. Purchase a General Musical Instrument
The first tip is to purchase a musical instrument that is a good foundation for the family to learn on. Used pianos are relatively easy to find and can be used and learned on by even the youngest members of the family. Finding a used piano will be simple once you start to look for it. Typically you can find them at garage sales, resale shops, in newspapers ads, and web-based or App based resale sites. Common prices for a used piano range from $50-$350 depending on condition and style. Remember: an out of tune piano can be tuned! (Even the best piano tuners only charge about $100.) If your children are older, a guitar may also be a great first choice for a family instrument. Children under the age of 5 may have a difficult time playing due to their small hands around the neck of the guitar.
2. Choose a Method
Once you’ve chosen an instrument and have it at home, you will want to decide upon the curriculum to use. If you don’t play the instrument as well, this is a perfect opportunity to learn right along-side your son or daughter! There are a variety of ways to learn any instrument: utilizing Youtube for free lessons, finding an online instructor (typically quite discounted compared to private lessons) or purchasing beginner lesson books. When deciding upon a book to use, pay close attention to the package it comes in: look for a series that offers music theory, and lessons, as well as practice music. For older elementary students starting out, it can be off-putting if there are too many cartoon characters. Visiting a local independent music store will be the best place to find guidance in selecting a series of books.
3. Set-Aside Time
By now, you’ve likely spent anywhere in the range of $150-$500. Music lessons can be helpful to some, but in the beginning, pure dedication and discipline are all it takes to get started. With daily practice for 20-30 minutes per day, your child (and you!) can go from knowing nothing about your selected instrument, to being able to play Three Blind Mice in a relatively short period of time.
Gaining the benefits that are laid out by the NAfME can definitely be accomplished in relatively painless and cost-effective ways. By demonstrating a love and understanding of music, you’ll have given your child a gift that will carry with them through the rest of their life. And you’ll have a better memory for it!