Even if you are not a piano instructor yourself, you can learn to foster your child’s creative process of composing by being attuned to the way they deviate from traditional technical practice. In fact, you may not be musically inclined at all, but understanding that when your child seems simply to be “playing around” on the piano, they could actually be improvising and composing music! This is a very natural process, and encouraging this behavior as a parent can help encourage both regular practice and creative development.
One of the best things you can do as a parent is to be aware that your child is doing this and to share that awareness with your child. Often when children are just tinkering around on the piano, outside of their lessons with their piano instructor, they are not aware they’re creating something entirely new.
Fostering a Creative Environment
Your child’s piano instructor might pick up on the fact that your child has some natural composing tendencies, and as a parent, you can help foster the space for your child to lean into these tendencies. One obvious way to foster this environment is to not correct your child when you notice or hear them veering off from practicing scales on the piano or other technical skills. Engaging and encouraging your child through positive reinforcement is a great way to help them understand that they’re allowed, and even encouraged, to give time and space to composing.
While children that are learning other instruments can also naturally drift into composing, this is most often found in piano students around the age of 12. When you start noticing your child improvising, one of the greatest gifts you can give them is to listen, and ask them to play their improvisation again. This reinforces their craft and gives them an opportunity to practice their creation again. Listening and engaging also help you as a parent begin to understand when your child has been able to master a composition by heart, playing it the same way time after time. This can be an indication that your child is ready to actually write a piece of music down. Trying to force a child into annotating their composition too early might be too difficult, and it might not be age-appropriate. Waiting for them to master a composition by heart allows them the freedom to create and master at their own pace.
Practical Steps to Encourage Composing
Once you notice your child repeating the same compositions by heart over and over, you can make sure their piano instructor is also aware, and come up with some plans to engage with your child about their composing. A good first step is to have your child physically write out their composition with pencil and paper. Once your child has successfully written out their composition, you can photograph or scan their work to create a digital copy that you can share with their piano instructor. This allows the piano instructor to continue to work on this piece with your child in their formal piano lessons. Sending these materials to their instructor prior to your child’s lesson helps their instructor process and create a plan with your child.
Even if your child’s piano instructor is not a composer, they can help reinforce concepts with your child as they work out their composition. Understanding the necessary and appropriate uses of clefs, spaces, barlines, stems, flags, etc. can help the instructor teach these necessary things, and help the student understand how they affect the music.
Having your child’s piano teacher help your child turn their composition into something performable is one of the best things you can do to help encourage your child to continue composing. Being able to perform something they created is an incredible opportunity for your child. This might make recitals less predictable, but gives your child an invaluable opportunity to hone and practice this particular craft.
While not every piano student is going to turn into a composer, it’s important to recognize the signs of creativity in the ones that DO want to compose. By bringing their piano instructor into the mix, and by fostering an environment where your child has the freedom to noodle over their creations, you are giving your child the opportunity to do something remarkable at a young age. Even though their compositions might not be up to Beethoven’s standards, it’s important to take children’s early composing seriously.
Every child’s situation is unique, but if your child is eager to take this route, Lessons in Your Home offers a wide variety of piano teachers. They can either come to your home to teach or can also provide online music lessons. Our virtual music lessons are taught by local music teachers who plan their lessons to suit your child. Contact us today to find an instructor near you who will help your child master their skills.