As the city celebrates its Year of Chicago Music, it just might be the perfect time to fuel an interest in music in your own house.
These days, families don’t have to wait until their kids reach a certain grade in school in order to join band, orchestra or choir. There are plenty of options throughout Chicagoland to get kids started right away, including at the Merit School of Music in the West Loop.
The first step is talking to your kids to gauge their interest in music, says Kurtis Gildow, dean and vice president for Educational Affairs at Merit.
“Starting from a place of knowing what your student is interested in and what’s appropriate for their age level, how they can be successful, those are all important things to consider when starting studies,” he advises.
Jumpstart a new instrument
Summer is a particularly great time for beginners to pick up excellent practice habits right from the start since they aren’t contending with long school days and homework. It also means a student feeling hesitant about trying an instrument can feel more confident trying out something new with people at their same level.
Prevent learning loss
For more experienced musicians, continuing lessons over the summer prevents them from losing the gains they made with their instruments or voice during the school year.
Have fun and make new friends
For both new and experienced musicians, a relaxed summer can mean having more fun with music while making friends.
Of course, Gildow adds, “It’s always fun at the Merit School of Music.”
More to consider
When looking for a place to start music, he encourages parents to visit the music schools that interest them to make sure they are a good fit. Don’t just look at the price; look at the environment and the faculty. In some cases, schools, such as Merit, offer financial aid and low-cost instrument rentals.
Band and guitar generally start in fourth or fifth grade, with strings and piano, students can be as young as 4 or 5 years old. Getting kids to learn to use their voices early, by joining the children’s choir, will serve them well the rest of their lives.
At Merit, the focus is on transformation of its students, something that happens over time. In addition to group classes and private lessons, Merit offers summer day camps that give kids an immersive experience while letting them explore other kinds of instruments and genres of music as well.
But summer music camps and classes are about more than learning to play notes on a page.
Kids who learn to play music learn how to express themselves, how to work collaboratively and how to take constructive feedback, he explains. They also learn to stick to something. All things that will help them the rest of their lives.