Unlike singing, your child does not have to be naturally gifted to be a good, or even a great guitarist, pianist or sitar player. Any child can pick up this skill. It is a good idea to start your child off on a musical instrument when he is in the fourth or fifth standard.
Which instrument should your child learn?
Music is a universal language, and it doesn't matter what musical instrument he takes up. Needless to say, if you are living in a small home, drums may not be the most practical choice! It is a good idea to sit which your child, give him options, and let him make a choice. Explain to him that musical instruments don't come cheap, and if you are going to invest in one, he should understand that it is a long-term commitment.
Many parents, keen on inculcating a sense of appreciation for Indian classical music in their child, make their children learn the tabla, sitar, santoor or harmonium. While this is great if your child has an aptitude and a liking for Indian classical music, it may not be the best thing if you are constantly pushing your child against his will. He may eventually end up dropping the classes as soon as he has more of a say in the matter, with the result that he is back to square one. But on the other hand if you let your child have a choice in the matter, he may develop more of a passion for learning the instrument, and may even excel at it.
Is it worth the investment?
Before investing in a musical instrument, take your child to the shop and let him view the various instruments on display, and hear them all. Then, he could start taking classes. If your child shows motivation, is regular with his classes and seems to be enjoying them, you can then buy the instrument. If not, you may consider starting your child on another instrument. Similarly, speak to the shop about exchanging the instrument for another. Some shops may agree to let you do that. Also, find out about the maintenance required.
Music is a very soothing companion, and is a great relaxant. Years down the line when your child returns home from a hard day's work, his greatest source of relaxation may be strumming a few tunes on his guitar. However, in India unfortunately not many students learn to play a musical instrument as part of their school curriculum. You may have to arrange for private classes, but do so. It is well worth the added expenditure. Remember, you are investing in an experience that will give your child pleasure for the rest of his life.
Playing an instrument helps increase physical co-ordination, and sharpens the mind. It also increases your child's sensitivity towards not just music but towards other aspects of life. You will also be increasing your child's exposure to art and culture.
Learning to play a musical instrument is a great skill to posses, and one that will provide your child with satisfaction for a lifetime. Not everyone can play an instrument, and possessing a skill like this will also help in increasing your child's social life and popularity later on in life. In addition, being able to do something which others cannot is always a great confidence booster.
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