The following is an extract from an interview with Maroon 5 guitarist James Valentine and he makes a very interesting point. See my comments below.
Interviewer: When you started playing, did your parents ever make you practice?
Valentine: My parents made me start taking piano lessons when I was 8 and I hated it and they made me practice piano. I discovered guitar a few years later and they never had to ask me to practice guitar. In fact they had to come into my room and tell me to stop and go to bed. But forcing me to take piano, I think that definitely set up the discipline of being able to sit and practice and I took that to guitar. I think that’s important. We sort of need to teach children to do that. I sound like an old curmudgeon now, but when I see kids playing Guitar Hero I think like, “Man if they applied half the time to playing a real guitar that they do to playing Guitar Hero they could be very skilled guitarists.”
Parents need to be involved
Note Valentine says he was forced to play piano but then goes on to say we sort of need to teach children to do that. Teaching children self discipline by force is not necessarily required. Parents do need to set the rules but they should also work with their children and support them. In the case of Valentine the piano lessons and practice had paid dividends (music literacy) giving him a distinct advantage when it came to learning guitar. He was motivated to play guitar because he had the basic skills. Its like reading. If you can already read picking up a book or magazine is a pleasure. If you can’t read its hard work. Children need help from their parents getting over this early hump. Most children cannot learn guitar from scratch anymore than they can learn to read. We don’t want to force children to learn music but as parents if we leave it up to our children to decide whether they will practice or not chances are they will be playing Guitar Hero rather than a real guitar.
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