Ever since I began my teaching career, I remember being confronted by concerned individuals who, in the process of deciding whether to learn a musical instrument, expected me to answer an age old question:
“Am I talented?”
I must confess, for quite a long period of time, the answer to this question evaded me. However, when I delved into the field of child education, I discovered a fundamental truth:
Musical talent is not inherited: it is developed.
Today, I am convinced that musical talent is a God given seed within every newly born child. However, for it to blossom, it must be nurtured daily from a very early age on. Therefore, the child should be constantly exposed to a wide variety of music. Amazingly enough, the subconscious mind will register these new sounds and rhythms. A few years down the road, when the child begins music lessons, he will have a storehouse of natural resources which will help him develop the necessary skills with much more ease.
I have seen this principle in action repeatedly. A young adult will start lessons with me and make remarkable progress in a short period of time. When I inquire about his musical background, he’ll most likely reply: “My parents were constantly listening to all kinds of music and taking me to concerts as I was growing up.” Curiously many times I find that although the child was reared in a fertile environment for the development of musical talent, he/she was never encouraged encouraged to study an instrument. This, in turn, is a good reminder of another relevant fact: The destiny of children often lies in the hands of the parents.
The fact that a child never expresses a desire to want to play an instrument should not be the reason for not making it available to that child. Many children never ask to go to school, but we all know that they should in order to become educated, well rounded citizens. The key to developing musical talent is in the environment – exposure to the sun gets the desired suntan, exposure to music results in an appreciation for and desire to play musical instruments. If children are given gentle pushes in proper directions, the results can be amazing!
It is unfortunate that Music and Art, in general, no longer hold a respectable position in American child education. On the contrary, throughout Israel, Japan and Europe,it is most unusual for a child to be deprived of their customary musical education. Through this means, the rich cultural heritage of these countries is passed on from generation to generation and thus, preserved. Furthermore, through centuries of observing this tradition, it has been discovered that the study of a musical instrument at an early age, will aid in the development of the child’s fine motor skills. Last, but not least, the experience has proven to contribute to the formation of a noble character, as well as to promote discipline and better concentration in the child’s life.
The benefits are truly innumerable. The bottom line is that the issue of musical talent should never be an obstacle. Now is the time for your child to experience the joys of making music. To quote violinist Shinichi Suzuki, “What is not trained while we are growing, brings pains and aches later.”