Guidance for Parents and Families on Finding and Choosing Opportunities to Make Music

  • by Anonymous (not verified)

    Wednesday, 16 September, 2015 - 16:02

Finding opportunities to make or learn music can often be difficult for young people, and sometimes choosing which opportunities to go for can be equally difficult.

The visual below offers guidance for parents and families about some of the things they should consider, or do, or look for when they’re trying to work out how to find and choose opportunities for music-making -- building on their achievements to date, on what’s realistically available, in a direction that makes sense for them.

We've produced this guidance for five different groups of people who have a role in supporting young people's music making: for young people; for their parents and families; for schools; for music organisations; and for music teachers and music leaders. Click on the blue dots for more information.

Waypointwaypoint/experiencing-diversity-and-excellence-2Experiencing diversity and excellence24.0266.7""#0000002
Waypointwaypoint/accessing-creative-spaces-2Accessing creative spaces88.0283.1""#0000002
Waypointwaypoint/performance-and-showcasing-opportunities-4Performance and showcasing opportunities125.0286.9""#0000002
Waypointwaypoint/group-and-individual-experiences-4Group and individual experiences243.0318.9""#0000002
Waypointwaypoint/making-informed-choices-4Making informed choices355.0359.1""#0000002
Waypointwaypoint/exploring-discovering-and-making-mistakes-4Exploring, discovering and making mistakes308.0357.9""#0000002
Waypointwaypoint/progressive-focussed-development-3Progressive, focussed development398.0363.9""#0000002
Waypointwaypoint/nurturing-individual-journeys-4Nurturing individual journeys486.0459.6""#0000002
Waypointwaypoint/identifying-personal-goals-3Identifying personal goals561.085.6""#0000002
Waypointwaypoint/sustaining-motivation-and-commitment-3Sustaining motivation and commitment573.0223.2""#0000002
Waypointwaypoint/guiding-journeys-and-managing-transitions-3Guiding journeys and managing transitions523.0301.9""#0000002
Waypointwaypoint/enabling-young-people-support-themselves-and-each-other-5Enabling young people to support themselves and each other634.0321.6""#0000002
Waypointwaypoint/personal-support-5Personal support666.0314.8""#0000002
Waypointwaypoint/long-term-sustained-support-5Long-term sustained support695.0309.8""#0000002
Waypointwaypoint/making-most-financial-and-other-resources-3Making the most of financial and other resources730.0300.4""#0000002
Waypointwaypoint/support-and-encouragement-friends-and-families-2Support and encouragement from friends and families756.0293.9""#0000002
Waypointwaypoint/embracing-whole-child-development-3Embracing whole-child development821.0277.4""#0000002
Waypointwaypoint/identifying-strengths-and-weaknesses-4Identifying strengths and weaknesses850.0266.4""#0000002
Waypointwaypoint/developing-appropriate-skills-and-abilities-3Developing appropriate skills and abilities875.0255.7""#0000002
Waypointwaypoint/celebrating-progress-and-achievement-3Celebrating progress and achievement910.0246.4""#0000002

Finding opportunities to make or learn music can often be difficult for young people, and sometimes choosing which opportunities to go for can be equally difficult.

The visual below offers guidance for parents and families about some of the things they should consider, or do, or look for when they’re trying to work out how to find and choose opportunities for music-making -- building on their achievements to date, on what’s realistically available, in a direction that makes sense for them.

We've produced this guidance for five different groups of people who have a role in supporting young people's music making: for young people; for their parents and families; for schools; for music organisations; and for music teachers and music leaders. Click on the blue dots for more information.

This guidance is based around the ‘ingredients in an environment for musical progression’ that a wide range of people in and around music education have identified as being some of the key things to consider, if young people are to fulfil their musical potential.

Click here for a text version of this visualisation

Experiencing diversity and excellence

Your child will have a more full and enriched musical journey if they are exposed to both diversity and musical excellence. This way they will have more options open to them to be creative, to build confidence and have a wider variety of experiences.

Try to find as wide and diverse range of music making activities for them, if they have cornet lessons at school, encourage them to go to the percussion summer school or the youth club rock band workshop. You never know when new opportunities arise.

Also getting involved with a range of different groups and musicians will open their eyes to the possibilities out there both musically and as a career.

Encourage your child to keep an open mind when choosing musical activities.

Also encourage them to step outside of their comfort zone a little; often this is a great way to find new activities that they enjoy.

Accessing creative spaces

It’s not always easy finding safe and practical spaces where your child/young person can make music.

Contact your local council, library, music shops to find out if there any regular youth sessions that happen in the area. Ask your child’s school what possibilities there are to use school space to make music.

Try to explain to your child the importance of having an appropriate space to rehearse and make music and support them is searching for one.

Performance and showcasing opportunities

Young people need opportunities and support to perform and showcase their achievements and hard work.

  • Help your young person look for the right performing opportunities and encourage them to do so. This might be at school, at a youth club or other young performers night in your area.
  • Give you young person feedback on their music and let them perform for you. Make the feedback honest and constructive but always supportive.
  • Encourage your young person to showcase their music to their peers and through online forums like soundcloud, MySpace, Facebook etc.

Group and individual experiences

Your child needs to be exposed to the participatory, communal and teamwork elements of group and ensemble music making (performing, composing, improvising, listening etc.), as well as solo work. Empowering young people to form their own groups and many see a network of learning as highly effective.

Support this by helping them to look for opportunities to meet other young musicians or join existing groups. Contact local libraries, councils, youth centres to find out what activity is already out there.

Making informed choices

When your child/young person has a sense of where they want to go musically they will need to understand the steps needed to reach those goals.

  • If they have a vision you will need to help them find the right support to achieve it. This may be researching on the internet which are the best music education centres in your area or speaking to local musicians to get advise on how they need to progress.
  • Talk to your young person about their aspirations and goals and find out if they have an understanding of the options and opportunities available to help them get to where they want to be.
  • Try to get specialist advise, from teachers, music workers, the internet, music shops and find out what options are available locally and if relevant further afield.
  • If your child wants to be a sound engineer, there may be studios close by where they can get work experience and build up their skills. If they want to be a pop singer, do they need to get guidance and advise form a professional?
  • It is always important to be both realistic and supportive and quite often the choices made will transfer into different aspirations and goals.

Exploring, discovering and making mistakes

It’s very easy to be negative to a child when they make a mistake. During their music journey they will make several, but it is important to realise that this is a crucial part of their learning.

If your young person feels that you will be supportive even through their mistakes then they are more likely to explore and learn without the fear of undue recrimination.

Encourage your young person to discover new things and explore new avenues. If you support them through this process, they are more likely to share their journey and experiences.

Progressive, focussed development

Your young person will need help and support to set goals along their journey be that personal or musical. Spend time talking about what they want to get better at and what specific things they will need to do to achieve it.

At the same time, development does not have to be goal-based, it can also be haphazard and exploratory; an appropriate balance needs to be found.

Nurturing individual journeys

Your young persons musical journey is unique, and unique to them. What’s more, the most successful journeys tend to be those that really work for the individual concerned.

This doesn’t mean that your young person has suddenly to be the centre of the universe but it does mean that they’ll need your support with being treated as an individual, supporting their strengths and weaknesses, as opposed to how they compare with everyone else.

Identifying personal goals

The heart of all musical motivation is inspiration. If your child is inspired they will grow creatively and personally.

Inspiration can come from anywhere, but it should start from the home.

Spend time with your child talking with them about the bands and artists you liked at their age, take them to see concerts of inspiring musicians and artists.

The most inspiring thing of all for a child is a parent who believes and supports what their child is doing and encourages their music making in whatever way they can.

Sustaining motivation and commitment

There are many competing aspects of a child’s life when making music and sometimes that initial flame of interest can be quickly blown out.

  • Spend time with your child encouraging them to play music. Ask them how they feel they are enjoying what they do.
  • Try to find a balance between all of the activities that they enjoy.
  • Celebrate and support all of their musical developments and achievements.
  • Support your young person to find the right resources and people they need to continue to be inspired by music.

Guiding journeys and managing transitions

You will have to look out for the signs that your young person needs to move elsewhere to the next appropriate set of expertise. Perhaps they are not playing as much as they used to, or their personal development has moved to a different place.

A specialist that is working with your child may also spot these times of transition. It is important to support this process and make it as smooth an experience as possible.

Try to communicate as much as possible with your child’s music leader or teacher. It may be a joint approach that identifies the need for change.

These timely interventions should consider, and perhaps coincide with, the stages of young people’s overall development – personal, intellectual, social, physical, musical.


It is a good idea for young people to have some ideas of what they would like to achieve with their music. It’s not always essential for them to know where they want to end up but by exploring possibilities and knowing what is out there, the young person can make informed choices about the direction they want to go in.

  • Spend time talking to your young person about where they see themselves musically in a few years. Ask them what their strengths are and find out if they have any aspirations.
  • Support your young musician to achieve their personal goals no matter how small or large.
  • You are potentially your child’s biggest role model and are in a position to inspire them to look at their achievements so far and make creative choices about their future.

Enabling young people to support themselves and each other

Your child/young person will need to find a balance between the support and opportunity you give them and the space for them to explore their own possibilities and self-discovery.

  • It is important to understand that education; learning and development aren’t just about classroom learning and structured education. Your child/young person will absorb information more if they see value in the information they are receiving.

  • It is important to give your child/young person the space to find their own opportunities but also to support them in the opportunities they find.
  • Encourage your child to search for musical opportunities where they can develop their creative ideas and abilities and then when they find opportunities, respect their ideas and their own creative time. This in turn will build trust and show them that you respect their decision-making and personal development. This will empower them to make wider decisions about how they live their lives responsibly and may result in them becoming a leader themselves.

Personal support

A critical element to most musical journeys is high quality one-to-one support. This may come in the form of tuition, coaching, mentoring, informing, guiding etc.

  • You can be part of this support. Take time to find out what your child/young person has been doing musically, ask them if they need you to listen to them practise.
  • Give your child/young person encouragement and reward them for reaching targets or sticking to practise schedules.
  • If they feel supported by you to make music they will develop faster and achieve more.
  • Look for individuals that could give your child/young person the relevant support they need both musically and socially. Sometimes young people need non-family member to communicate with and open up to their own needs.

Long-term sustained support

Long-term musical support is crucial to your child/young person if their musical potential is to be fulfilled.

Unsustained support and intervention around music can be positively damaging: setting up an aspiration that is not followed through can do more harm than the initial work did good – ‘talent lost’.

Look out for the signs that your child/young person is loosing or has lost interest in their music, this could be because they are getting no support from the people around them or their trusted support network is not there any more.

Always be supportive of their music making even if they are just doing it on their own in their bedroom. A parent can be just as important if not more important sometimes to their child fulfilling their musical journey.

Making the most of financial and other resources

A sustained supportive environment for Music Making can require huge resourcing, but there is help out there.

Places like your young person/child’s school or the local authority may be able to help you identify such resources and you can also check out the Youth Music website.

You too as a parent can help in a non-financial sense by contacting any local arts centres, music services or youth clubs and just find out what is available for your child.

Support and encouragement from friends and families

Being supportive of your child’s music making will have a significant impact on their engagement with it.

If you encourage your child to make music they are more likely to succeed and have a longer more fulfilled journey.

Embracing whole-child development

Your child/young person needs to develop as a whole during their journey, To be a successful musician, they will often need many other skills, including team work, self-discipline and self-confidence.

Find opportunities within the home where your child/young person can develop these skills, perhaps a set time each evening for doing homework or helping their sibling with some music work or other learning. If you encourage and support the development of these skills then they are more likely to stick at them and become a more all-round confident person

Identifying strengths and weaknesses

It is important to identify where young people’s strengths and weaknesses really lie. Too often a talent may remain unfulfilled because a young person is doggedly pursuing, or being encouraged to pursue, a journey that is not best suited to them and their environment.

Talk to your young person about what they think their strengths and weaknesses are and identify if they think the journey is best suited to their skills, desires and aspirations.

If an identified weakness is essential to the young persons journey then ask the question, is it the right journey or do I need to find extra support to strengthen that particular area.

Developing appropriate skills and abilities

  • Your child/young person will need to develop an appropriate set of skills to reach the goals they have set. Some of these skills they may already have or may already be developing and some of them new ones.
  • The musical support network of your child may also have its own goals for your child, which requires their own set of skills and abilities.

  • It is important to get good advice from specialists about what skills your young person needs to develop and what skills they have that may be useful to them in the future.
  • There may be circumstantial or environmental factors involved that make it more difficult to gain the skills needed so it’s essential to get the best advice from teachers, music leaders or anyone else within the young persons support network.
  • Spend some time talking to your young person about the goals they have set and find out what skills they think they need or already have. This can help plot points or milestones along the journey to travel to.

Celebrating progress and achievement

You need to spend time reflecting on your child’s musical achievements and to celebrate them at every point.

If young people can understand and assess their progress and attainment they have made, it can act as a driver for sustained engagement and enable them o see where they need to focus their efforts.

Talk to your young person about what milestones you think they have reached and encourage them to feel achieved for the hard work they have put in.

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