"Well," Jeff began, "Jenny kept waving at people in the audience, and Lizzy kept rolling her eyes because Jenny wouldn't pay attention to the song."
"Oh," I breathed a sigh of relief. Waving and eye rolling were things I could deal with—as long as they were in tune. And from the feedback I received, they were a big hit, in spite of (or because of) the comedy routine.
Music has always been a large part of my family. My dad is one of the Osmond Brothers; Donny and Marie are my uncle and aunt. I grew up practicing my violin daily and learned the craft well. And now I want music lessons for my kids. But unlike my grandparents, who insisted upon their children excelling musically, I have different reasons.
- Persistence pays off. Life is hard, and nothing introduces children to that better than music lessons. Most of the time, practicing an instrument is a bore at best and painful at worst. But if they persevere, children will learn a very valuable lesson—persistence pays off. This quality translates into every aspect of life.
- There's an uphill battle, then a downhill coast. If children are taught correctly, there's a lot of technique to learn at first. For the violin, you have to bend your thumb, place your third finger on the eye of the frog, keep your fingers loose, and place your pinky on top of the wood—and that's just for the bow hold! But once children learn the proper technique, their learning speeds up, their progress is quick, and practicing becomes enjoyable. Sometimes, there really is a right way to do things in life, and kids need to learn that.
- Self-esteem comes from the product. One amazing way for children to develop self-esteem and social skills is to develop a talent. Kids need to know they're good at something. Not only does it increase their self-esteem, but it also gives them a built-in social group in high school. Who cares if you're on the football team, if you're a "bandy," or if you hang out with the existential artist type? If your kids have skills, they have an automatic sense of belonging, especially as they get into high school.
My kids will probably never be professional musicians, but they will all benefit from music lessons because what they are learning is so much more than notes and rhythm.
Amy Osmond Cook, PhD is a freelance writer and mother of five who writes a family relationship column for OC Moms, the Orange County Register's parenting section. She is the author of several books, including "Hope After Divorce" and "Why They Believe."