Enrolling in music school is completely different from enrolling child in other afterschool activities. Unlike the usual children’s hobbies, the innate predispositions of a child, as well as his diligence and readiness to work at home, play a crucial role in attending music school.
Unless they themselves have gone through some form of music education, parents are often unable to assess whether their child has the potential to attend this school.
In order to help you with that, in April 2019, we held an author’s panel of the same name at the International Music School “Eva”, and the text in front of you are our answers to the most common questions related to enrolling in music school and attendance at music schools.
How do you know a child is gifted in music and should enroll in music school?
Often when we hear someone sing or play, we give our judgment about how talented that person is for music, and the word we use most often is a talent. Although the word is widespread, in a narrower sense, talent is actually the highest level of predisposition to engage in art.
We lowered that ladder because we believe that music can and should be played and by those children who have basic musical predispositions. This means that in combination with other abilities, they can easily enroll in music school, attend music school and make a progress.
When children are quite young, you will notice that they react to music by dancing, singing or clapping. Your educator or teacher may notice that your child sings better than other children. But, if you don’t notice, it should be noted that there are shy children who will show inclination in another way – maybe they will sing or dance only when they are alone.
These or similar situations should be a signal for you to examine children’s musicality.
Apart from the recommendation to expose children to quality music content, such as popular works of classical music or fairy-tale ballets by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, there are numerous group workshops for early age in Serbia, and many of them can be attended online.
On them, children will sing, listen to various instruments, but also work on fine motor skills. It is during these activities that experienced pedagogues will recognize your child’s musical potential and instruct you to enroll in music school at the right time.
What is the best age to enroll in music school?
Most parents want to introduce their children to the most diverse content at the earliest age, so that later in life they have as many choices as possible and grow into successful people. However, referring prematurely to a large number of activities, especially music education, can be counterproductive.
First of all, because at an early age there is no balance of all layers of a child’s personality, which appears only around the age of eight or nine. It is also the optimal age to start music school – the beginning of the second or third grade of primary school, when the child has already developed work habits and is aware of his role in school obligations.
In case you plan to enroll your child earlier, it is very important that he has a satisfactory emotional maturity. Otherwise, trying to learn can be counterproductive. It often happens that the parent, with the best intentions, closes the door to the child, which would have opened easier if they had waited for the right moment.
Elements of emotional maturity required to attend music school include:
- acceptance of discomfort (getting out of the comfort zone)
- acceptance of authority
- polite behavior in the group
- good general communication
If a child has at least three of the five listed elements of emotional maturity, it can be said that he is ready for music school.
What is important for successfully attending music school?
It is not enough to have only one type of quality for any success. It is the same in music, because, no matter how expressed it is, talent is not a guarantee of success. What can guarantee you success is a combination of musical and general abilities, as well as the influence of internal and external motivation, but also the support of parents.
The basic elements of musical ability are rhythm and hearing.
Rhythm is crucial because it does not develop, but represents our basic potential. So, a child either has it or does not have it. Highly motivated children can control the rhythm with intelligence, but after the second or third grade, when the compositions become more demanding, it becomes more and more difficult and less possible.
Hearing can be divided into internal (what we hear) and external (what we reproduce). Hearing develops, unlike rhythm, so it is harder to assess when children are small.
There are children who do not like to sing and who have not developed reproductive hearing, but they recognize the melody very well and feel the rhythm very well. By not being able to sing the given melody, such children often ended up with a recommendation not to play music.
Fortunately, more is known about musical abilities today, and thanks to a more complex assessment, such mistakes are less common.
In a broader sense, we can also classify motor skills, as well as other physical predispositions.
Motor skills are crucial for successful learning to play an instrument, but on the other hand, for all those who do not have sufficiently developed motor skills, playing music is of therapeutic importance for the development itself, while learning to play goes into the background.
Other physical predispositions
Other physical predispositions include good lung capacity in the case of learning to play wind instruments, and here the therapeutic significance is important because playing such an instrument increases lung capacity. Also, a healthy spine is a prerequisite for learning to play, for example. accordions or violins, due to the position of the body in which the child is while playing.
General abilities and enrolling in music school
Musical and general abilities are constantly supplemented in the process of music education. Children with better concentration and more developed thinking and reasoning, as well as those with good memory, have a great advantage over children who do not have it. On the other hand, learning to play an instrument will also promote the development of general abilities.
The reason for this is simple – in order for a child to play, it is necessary to control almost all centers in the brain – from following the musical text, then activating both gross and fine motor skills based on what is seen, then checking the accuracy of the performance, and at the same time pre-designs the music to come.
If we add an aesthetic and emotional element to all this, we can conclude that playing an instrument is perhaps one of the most complex actions that requires all our resources to be successfully performed.
Precisely because of that, it is not surprising that learning to play a musical instrument is recognized as increasingly important for children’s development. Of course, let’s not forget the emotional side of practicing this skill, because we love music above all and enjoy it, whether we are a performer or a listener.
How to make a child reach his potential when enroll in music school
Internal and external motivation, as well as parental support, play a key role in realizing the potential.
Internal motivation is often closely related to musical abilities, but that is not the rule either. Children who have above-average musical abilities usually have a strong inner motivation. This results from the fact that they easily master all tasks, so when they see that they are good at something, they get additional inner encouragement.
When child enroll in music school, internal motivation should be constantly worked on if it varies, which is common in children. Crises are completely normal and they are especially manifested at the beginning of entering puberty, because then elementary school becomes more demanding and it is natural for that to happen.
The most important thing is to make a good assessment – whether the crisis is current or not.
External motivation also plays a big role in a child’s music education. That is the motivation that the student received from his teacher. This process is long-lasting and is based on building mutual trust and respect, which, above all, stems from the love and enthusiasm of professors for their work and children in general.
Instrument classes in the music school are individual, which gives the teacher the opportunity to approach each child in a different way from the pedagogical side. Thus, each student received encouragement at the very moment of his musical development when he needed it the most, as well as support and help for the problem he encountered at that moment.
All professors of the instrument are highly educated, but above all they are people who have gone all the way through music education. That path is difficult and long-lasting, similar to the path that top athletes go through. In addition to above-average abilities, it also requires a lot of discipline, work and sacrifice.
It is for this reason that communication with the teacher is crucial. It implies trust, cooperation and following his instructions. Allow the teacher to build a unique relationship with your child. Everyone will benefit from that – first the child, and then the teacher and the parent himself.
Parental support in enrolling in music school
In Finland, which is considered a country with one of the best educational systems in the world, parental education is an integral part of the child’s entrance exam for school enrollment.
It should be noted that music school is still a school and that success in it, unlike other extracurricular activities, depends a lot on working at home.
The goal of every parent is to raise an independent child who will take care of their obligations, but that is a process that lasts about three years on average. In order to make the path to musical maturation easier for your child, great support and love are needed. In addition, a significant role is played by:
- constructive communication with the teacher
- control of the child’s work at home (monitoring homework)
- providing instruments
- presence at public appearances
When child enroll in music school, it is certainly not always possible to harmonize all obligations and be an ideal support to the child in the educational process. But it is very important that parents do everything to provide children with an atmosphere in which they can progress.
Choice of instrument when child enroll in music school
The choice of instrument plays a significant role in the future success of the child in music school. First of all, it must feel inclination towards the instrument, but at the same time, that inclination must be in accordance with its predispositions.
What we suggest as a preparing for enrolling in music school
At home with a child, you should listen to different instruments and at the same time monitor how he reacts to them. Also, the register of the voice in which the child speaks or sings often indicates the register of the instrument that will attract him. The child’s natural predispositions should be monitored, starting from musical abilities to physical characteristics – hands, lips, constitution.
It should be borne in mind that there are tempered and non-tempered instruments, instruments on which the pitch is determined, such as piano, guitar, percussion and harp, and on the other hand, string and wind instruments, in which the child must check the production of tone by hearing .
In that sense, the advice is to direct children with average hearing to tempered instruments.
Even if the child does not feel a full connection with the chosen instrument, with a good and patient teacher, each instrument will become a good companion for your child, and the knowledge he acquires on it will be very easy to apply when learning the next instrument.
Public performances are an integral part of music education. Whether it is about concerts or regular annual check-ups and exams, the child must master this discipline as well. As children start performing when they are young, they accept the pattern of public performance as part of their growing up.
When they finish their music education, in addition to having the opportunity to feel satisfaction and contact with the audience through public performances, they are practically trained for a large number of diverse public performances that await them in the future.
Here, we first think of all the answers, entrance exams, presentations of seminar papers, as well as exams at the faculty. This experience can also be applied to job interviews, business presentations, and even on-camera appearances.
Performing music requires the involvement of perhaps the largest number of our centers in the brain. Any other public performance will basically have a less destabilizing effect on us than a performance in which we perform music. Therefore, children’s self-confidence will grow with the acquisition of this skill.
By enrolling in a music school, you enable the child to develop all other abilities in the best way, apart from music, as well as to gain the necessary self-confidence through performances in front of the audience. Through public appearances and overcoming anxiety, children gain practice for what awaits them later in education and at work.
Statistically speaking, between 10 and 15 percent of children who enroll in elementary music school later enroll in music secondary school. Therefore, when enrolling a child in elementary music school, do not think of it as their future profession, but as a charitable activity that will beautify their lives and develop their self-confidence and patience.
Also, sometimes it is not necessary to insist that the child finish all six years of music school if you notice that he no longer does it with a strong desire. Even a few years of playing music is quite enough to have a favorable effect on general abilities and make a child an educated listener who enjoys music or a member of an amateur choir.
In the British music system ABRSM, according to which we work in International Music School “Eva”, almost 70 percent of all school children play a musical instrument . It is interesting that only about five percent of children in Serbia attend music schools.
This huge difference in the number of systemically educated children in Britain and in our country is primarily in the limited capacities of our state music schools. Fortunately, with the appearance of an increasing number of private music schools, this statistic is slowly changing. We can conclude that our society is becoming more musically educated from year to year, which is very commendable.