So I was asked a simple question… “somewhat”…. A parent told me that she had a child that was learning how to play piano. The biggest issue that the parent wanted to know was “What music should I make my child listen to?” A red flag popped up immediately when I heard her utter the word “make.” You see, playing music is an “art” and when it comes to artistry I just don’t think you should ever try to “force” it. When you “make” someone become an artist you stifle their creative ways and inhibit a child’s desire to explore. For example, when I was young my mother found that I could actually play piano on my own. She “immediately” put me into “piano lessons” where the teacher tried her best to teach me how to “read” music. To this day it never worked. The problem was that i was an “ear” player, and i didn’t see any joy in learning how to read music. I rebelled a lot and actually left the piano alone for a while over this. As long as a child has his or her own “natural intrigue” then i believe it is best for a parent to build on that. If a child is “interested” in piano lessons, then by all means go for it. Now, as for what type of music the child should listen to, I suggested that she let the child check out any and all types of music or whatever music the child desired. An artist sometimes needs to explore on his or her own the world of creativity. I loved figuring out a song on my own without the help of s music chart. I remember one time performing a gig with the New Jersey symphony at the NJPAC center near New York City. They had a song that they wanted me to play, and they put a stand with a chart in it in front of me. My eyes opened wide because I didn’t know how to tell them that I could not read music. So as I sat down in the chair, I leaned forward as if to “pretend” that I was studying the chart, and when they played the song I simply “followed by ear on the fly.” I breathed a rather “hefty sigh of relief” when they congratulated me on a great job.” They say that a lot of artists are weird, and I can agree. I probably should have learned how to read music, but for some strange reason I always felt that if I learned how to read music, then I would have depended too heavily on it and my natural ear for it would have dissolved. A gifted child should be motivated to enhance his or her craft, but i just don’t believe that a parent should “force” a gift. I told the lady to let her child listen to any and everything, and as the child’s artistry grows, so will grow the musical range of what that child listens to. I believe that most of us have a gift of some kind. The joy in life is in being able to do what you love to do and excel at it. For any parent reading this who has a gifted child, I hope that you keep the “love” for the child’s gift “intact.” Let your child “tell you” what he or she wants and see if you can help those creative juices flow. I thank you for checking out my Daily Thought today, and as always I wish you the very best that life has to offer. Have a great day.
Billy Paul (“Me and Mrs. Jones” and “My song”) and Brett Jolly in concert