Most experts agree, dancing is a great activity for any child, regardless of their age. Not only is it a great form of exercise, but it also teaches your child self-confidence, rhythm, coordination, and grace, while inspiring self-expression and creativity. However, there are several things you need to think about before signing your child up for dance lessons, including the dancing style, age, commitment level, and cost. Keep reading to find out what to think about before signing your child up for dance classes.
You can find dance classes available for children as young as three and four. However, most classes for these age groups will focus more on dancing for fun and teaching your child basic coordination, rather than developing any type of technique. Sometimes, the classes also require that you (the parent) participate with your child.
Usually by the age of five, the majority of children can begin to learn technique. At this age, they can begin to pay attention, handle mild criticism, and follow directions. The majority of instructors for children at this level will provide ballet classes, since the fundaments learned in this type of dance can translate to all other forms.
You may want to wait until your child has expressed their interest in dancing. There are some studios that provide introductory classes divided by skill level and age.
The majority of dance studios will divide the classes by level of ability and age. An example of this would be dance studios that offer introductory pre-ballet classes for children between the ages of three and five. The next type of class will be geared toward those who are age five to eight. These classes are much more structured and begin teaching the fundamentals. From that point, most studios offer classes that are more specific, to help a child find out what they enjoy and develop their skills in that particular area of dance.
Before selecting a dance studio, you need to think about what your child wants to learn during their dance lessons. What’s the most important thing about dancing? Learning the proper technique or having fun? Do you want your child to compete? If your child looks at this as a hobby, try to find a more informal studio that puts minimal emphasis on recitals and competitions. If you have a child who is demonstrating a passion or has exceptional skills when it comes to dancing, it’s a good idea to find a school that is more technical and that is being taught by credentialed instructors.
As you can see, there are several things to consider when it comes to choosing a dance studio and dance lessons. Being informed is one of the best ways to ensure your child has a great experience and that they get the most from the lessons.
At West Minister Arts Academy, we have more than 12 instruments that children can get lessons on playing. With such a wide range of instruments to choose from, it’s good for parents to know that the final decision isn’t based on the sound of the instrument. Here are four factors to consider when choosing an instrument for your child to play.
For children, their bodies are developing at a lightning-fast pace. The younger a child is, their body's physical characteristics play a significant role in determining the kinds of instruments they should start with playing. With age comes increased physical strength and height, which creates new opportunities for trying new instruments. Both of these should be considered when selecting an instrument with your child. While it is easier to learn music at a young age, some musical instruments are more suitable for your child when they are developing the physical strength to play the instrument properly. For example, the cello or bass are examples of instruments that require greater physical control than the player has at an early age. Similarly,
instruments such as the tuba and the cello are bulky and heavy. Your child will need some strength to hold the instruments to play as well as to transport these instruments. For this reason, core and back strength are essential for learners to maintain their proper posture. For example, if drummers play with bad posture, they may sustain neck, shoulder, and back injuries.
Some instruments require your child to be of a specific size to be played. An example of this can be seen with popular instruments like the trombone. To play the trombone well and effectively, the students need to be tall enough to be able to engage the full range of motion of the trombone's slide mechanism to hit all its notes. It's important to note that many instruments have various sizes available, so it's possible to have your child learn the basics while waiting for the height to reach an appropriate level. Unfortunately, this tactic can add extra money to teaching a child an instrument, since parents will have to pay for a properly-fitted instrument for their child as they grow older. Once the child has grown tall enough to play a standard-size version of the instrument, these extra expenses will decline.
When students start to learn how to play brass and woodwind instruments, they will need to show advancement in the necessary embouchure (mouth placement) for particular instruments. For smaller instruments in that family, it won't be a problem for smaller kids to demonstrate the proper mouth placement. However, if a child wants to play something like the French horn or oboe, they might need slightly more time to master the embouchure. These instruments have features like a narrow mouthpiece and, at times, a double reed. Children with thin lips and even teeth will usually have an easier time contorting their mouths to fit these instruments. Similarly, if your child needs to undergo orthodontic treatment (e.g., braces), it may be better to avoid instruments that involve blowing because practicing could inflict unnecessary pain.
Another thing to keep in mind is the size of your child’s hands. If your child has larger-than-average hands with long fingers, they may find it easier to learn how to play the piano, even at more advanced levels, where playing chords spanning more than one octave is common. Nonetheless, if your child's hands aren't particularly big, there are ways to get around that. Besides, learning the piano as a first instrument can help children understand the hang of reading sheet music faster because the layout of the keyboard makes it easier to see the relations between melody lines and how they appear of staves.
If, after all of this you're still having trouble picking an instrument, it's a good idea to speak to your child's instructor. At West Minister Arts Academy, our team members can work with parents to help them choose the most appropriate instrument for a child, after considering all of the physical needs from the child to play a particular instrument.