What makes one child love the guitar, while another child adores the violin?
The sound of a flute may cause one child to laugh, while another one talks incessantly of the french horn.
Seth Custer heard the saxophone played as a young boy as he sat in his chair at church. He fell in love with its sound, and is now an accomplished performer and composer. I have watched countless other musicians find the same love for one instrument or another.
My dad wanted my sisters and me to learn to play the piano, and my mom determined that my brothers would learn to play the trumpet. Dad also picked another instrument for many of my siblings. He chose the mandolin for me. This little instrument, which looks like a cross between a lute and an electric guitar, has a place in my earliest memories. Later, I began playing the guitar only because we lacked an extra guitarist after one sister married.
Unfortunately, I never picked an instrument for myself. But I am thankful today that I was encouraged to learn to play a musical instrument. Music has enriched my life in many ways, and the Lord has always given me the opportunity to use this skill.
Whether or not you want your child to play the guitar or the oboe, I believe every child should be given the opportunity to learn a musical instrument. And whether they gravitate toward the piano, penny whistle, or banjo, they need your guidance and encouragement.
I suggest the following random ideas:
- Watch their natural inclinations. Just like Seth gravitated toward the saxophone, your child may lean toward a specific sound. They may become fascinated at a very young age with one instrument or another (maybe more than one!). Find the one that interests them the most.
- Push them toward that instrument. If you notice their obsession beginning to surface, foster that obsession by playing music performed by professionals on that instrument. Play the music in the house and in the car. They need to hear what can be accomplished on the instrument they are curious about.
- Pay for lessons. If your child expresses enough interest to begin real lessons, decide to set aside money for this investment. That’s really what it is–an investment. Barter if you have to, but do your best to provide as many opportunities for learning as you can. My mom asked anybody she knew who played the trumpet to teach my brothers what they knew. She taught them as best as she could, then tried to supplement that information.
- Show them how their talent can be used to help others. If there is one lesson I would teach a child, it is this: their musical ability is not solely for their own enjoyment. I remember my parents admonishing my siblings and me over and over that we were learning to play–not for our own glory–but for God’s glory. I try to encourage children and teenagers to think of how they can use this gift to edify their local church.
- Encourage them not to stop learning. You never know how God could use them later in life. Perhaps because of your insistence that they keep practicing, someone will hear the Gospel, someone will be uplifted during a trial, someone will find the healing their soul craves.
Whether you choose an instrument for your child to play or allow them to choose, always encourage them to develop any musical ability they may have. The reward is worth the effort.