Have you ever noticed what happens when 2 young kids have a playdate together and pass by a piano or keyboard? From what I’ve seen, one of the children says “Let me show you what I can play!” and sits down to play her favorite piece. If both kids play, her friend will then play as well. Sometimes they improvise a crazy duet!
I’ve seen this happening for years. An 8-year-old student will come to his lessons and I’ll ask what he did earlier in the day. If he was at a friend’s house, I’ll often hear how the two friends played piano for each other. It might be for 5 minutes or it might be for a half-hour. The important thing is that it happens, and the kids enjoy it.
You’d be surprised. Teenagers do it too. Music has been a social event since the beginning of time. I see preteens play keyboard for each other on Facetime and Skype. Sometimes they sing too.
So, as parents, why not encourage this kind of thing with our young kids? Don’t force them, but do it subtly. If you’re about to bring your 7-year-old to a friend’s house who has a piano or keyboard, you can say, “I have an idea, let’s bring your piano book so you can play your new song for Tammy.” Or “Why don’t you teach Johnny the blues scale you just learned?” If they say “no,” just let it go and ask again next time. If nothing else, you’re putting it on their radar. (And think about how often kids tell us they’re not interested but end up doing it anyway!)
It’s not the main event, but something to do after they play catch or on their video games. A fun diversion.
If your child is having a friend come over, leave their keyboard out where they might “accidentally” come across it. Or have their sheet music on the piano already opened to the piece they enjoy playing most.
Social music-making. Encourage it with your kids, gently. The more peer support they have among their friends, the more likely they’ll enjoy practicing. Peer support is more influential than we, as parents, often realize. Who knows, they may stick with their instrument for years to come. And create precious memories along the way!
Take your left hand playing to a new level with my free ebook: Left Hand Techniques for Jazz Piano
You’ll also get my weekly jazz newsletter with practice tips and inspiration