The content of my 45-minute talk included a mixture of music education advocacy and pragmatic advice for supporting their children in the often difficult commitment of practising.
Firstly, we can acknowledge that parents have made a wise choice to include music in the overall education of their child. As well as the specific musical benefits, virtually nothing requires the character traits of commitment, persistence, impulse control, resilience and stick-at-it-ive-ness to the degree that music learning does. Therefore the very fact that students continue to work at music is a testament of character. An earlier blog discusses this in more detail, including details of a character development study from Birmingham University. When children give up music it is usually because of a lack of progress. This is directly related to lack of practice – the quality and the quantity of practice. The most important aspect of quantity is distribution. That is, children should do some practice every day (or only on the days that they eat, as Dr Suzuki says). Quality practice mostly refers to stopping to fix mistakes using chunking (isolating small bits for further attention), and slow, mistake-free repetitions. This is where parent support with younger children is vital. One doesn’t have to be musically educated to hear wrong notes, or to know that the playing is too fast. As well, interest taken by parents send a signal to the child that the activity is valued. Children take on the value systems of their parents.
A short speech at a music information night is a great way to educate parents about their unique capacity to support. A guest speaker reiterates the school message with an impact affording an external expert. School newsletters also provide opportunities for communicating these essential understandings to parents.
These topics are further explored in ‘Learning Strategies for Musical Success’ by Michael Griffin.
“Super book. I am so impressed!” – Donna Michaels, USA
“Rarely do I come away feeling so inspired. Incredibly beneficial.” – Music Matters Blog
“Deeply impressive, the breadth of research is fascinating!” – Robert Chamberlain, Team of Pianists and Monash University Piano Staff, Victoria Australia.
“I have read your book and it has made an amazing difference in my teaching and in my studio.” Beth Cruickshank, Past President – Ontario Registered Music Teachers Association.
Also by Michael Griffin
Music and Keyboard in the Classroom: Fundamentals of Notation is a unit of work for general music middle school classes. Designed around the mastering of practical skills, it integrates theory, aural and history, and allows students to progress at their own rate. View Table of Contents. “This has been a great buy; the books are just superb! Interesting topics with a wide range of pieces. Great content with clear progression of learning. Fascinating teaching philosophy! BRAVO!” -The Grieg Academy, London. Available at Amazon.com
Music and Keyboard in the Classroom: Let’s Get Creative! is the fun and creative extension to ‘Fundamentals of Notation’.
View Table of Contents. “We have been using your keyboard course and the results have been amazing!” – St George College, Australia
Available at Amazon.com
Second edition. Bumblebee! is more than just a wonderful collection of 130 choir exercises and rounds. The author shares timeless wisdom to help you get your choir – primary or secondary – into shape.
“This is a great resource to add to one’s library of rehearsal tricks.”- Anacrusis, ACCC, Canada
Modern Harmony Method: Fundamentals of Jazz and Popular Harmony (Third Edition, 2013) is a clear and well organised text suitable for students of arranging and composition, and for classically trained musicians wishing to grasp the beautiful logic of jazz harmony. Essential understandings include chord selection, voicing, symbols, circle of 4th progressions, extensions, suspensions and alterations. Included in the 107 pages are explanations, examples, exercises and solutions. The course can be started with students in year 9 and worked through to year 12 musicianship, composing and arranging. Available at Amazon.com