31 Flavors...Yes…ice cream. I know it’s been cold and rainy, but here in California, we spend most of the year fighting off the urge for ice cream. Baskin Robbins may not be the highest end ice cream in town, but all of those choices are so fantastic. When I was a young boy, we used to refer to Baskin Robbins as “31 Flavors.” That is what separated them from every other ice cream place. When you're a kid getting to try a bunch of different kinds of ice cream, well, what could be better?
We have had a number of parents ask what instrument we believe a child should start learning on. Sometimes there's an instrument that the parents have always wanted to learn, so they naturally urge their child to learn the same instrument. Sometimes parents are convinced that one particular instrument is better than all of the others, often the piano. And sometimes parents are concerned about what instrument might be the easiest to learn. The one thing all parents seem to agree on is a desire to get their child exposed to and interested in learning about music as early as possible. With that said, the most important question becomes: What instrument is going to keep my child excited about learning and engaged in the experience?
Collectively, SoundLife Music Academy instructors have over a 100 years of experience taking lessons, teaching lessons, and performing music. We talk often about what works and what does not work, about what could be adjusted, and about what we believe might be missing. We share our collective experiences to arrive at one singular truth: Exposure is everything! We might like vanilla more than any other flavor, but only because we tried rocky road and seven different sherbets to arrive at this conclusion.
Does this mean we suggest taking music lessons on every instrument? Absolutely not! Though we would, of course, love to help set all those music lessons up, we believe the student should decide the instrument and should be personally invested in this decision. For older students, this decision is easier. They come knowing what instrument or instruments they want to play, or they've already dabbled in that instrument on their own. For children, especially very young children, we suggest being exposed to as many instruments as possible before deciding on an instrument. This is easy to do with YouTube videos, car ride sing-a-longs, and seeing pictures that might appeal to them. We also suggest that early music lessons include exposure to the keyboard or piano. The piano is the Mother ship of all instruments, and in understanding the piano, we can better understand everything else about music. It also provides instant gratification.
For students age 5 to 7, we offer a general music style lesson where the teacher can bring a variety of small instruments for students to try. The discipline to study one instrument has not yet developed at this age, but the benefits and gratification of music can be felt immediately in just the smack of a drum, the strum of a guitar, and only a few new notes on a small keyboard. In these introductory lessons, students learn to count, feel rhythm, and learn an awareness of how to recognize instruments and melodies in music. A student can use this process to naturally find their favorite flavor, the instrument that calls to them. For me, it was Jamoca Almond Fudge.
Bio: Chris Vazquez is the director and co/owner of SoundLife Music Academy in Los Angeles. As a session musician Chris has played guitar for Air Supply. Leona Lewis, JoJo, Kenny Lattimore, and many otherd. As an instructor he has nearly 20 years of experience with all ages and stylistic background. Chris is a graduate from the Berklee College Of Music in Boston.