Comment: Stop harassing your child to practice their musical instrument

While popular music can and should be a part of any music education, the latest popular music is not necessarily suitable for use as a teaching tool. This can lead to serious damage – ranging from disappointment when the music is beyond a learner’s ability, to very real damage to the voice or fingers.

My own research shows that using popular music as a means of getting children into music education may meet market demand, but is not always in the best interests of children. The adult environment that surrounds popular music does not fit well with a safe educational environment. Blackmailing Fever When You Kiss Me to a 7 year old is wrong.

Parents should choose a qualified teacher with a well-articulated teaching philosophy that emphasizes progressive learning. Avoid teachers who give instant hit on Australian Idol and, especially for young children, parents should ban sexualized repertoire.

Take an interest in the music your child is learning. Get to know the names of the pieces they are learning and ask to hear them.


Classes, exams, and practice times are all great, but ultimately music should be a shared activity. Don’t always ban your child to their bedroom for training.

Create an environment where music is a vital part of the home. Encourage your child to perform on family occasions. As they learn, sympathize with their struggles and celebrate their triumphs. Never regret the money you spend on class and never harass yourself.

Timothy McKenry is professor of music at the Australian Catholic University. This comment first appeared on The Conversation.

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