Tuesday, February 22, 2011

When Your Child Wants To Learn A Musical Instrument

An open letter to one parent:
Parents will ask such questions as "My child is five and wants to learn the violin. Is that too early?"
This is a profound question.
The place to begin is with you. Consider this. You can give your child her very first introduction to music by passing on a technique I learned from Bhimsen Joshi - it is childlike in its simplicity. First, you must become very quiet with your child. Then you hum a tone and invite your child to hum that same tone with you. Then you invite your child to join you in closing your eyes. You then hum that tone in varying ways-You can fill the space with that tone.
Next, you invite your child to plug both ears with the tips of index fingers, pushing the little ear flaps gently into make a closure. Again, the hum. Ah! A discovery! The sound has become big! It fills space within.
There is the beginning of the first violin lesson.
Then, when the child approaches the violin it is with the awareness that the great good thing, the thing that makes music, is within and the tone becomes intimate, warm, personal.
But the teacher must be versed in the meditative nature of all music.
So, five is not too young to start.
There is so much more to say.
Did any of this make any sense to you?
Please let me know right here what you think.
Thank you.


  1. So, I had to journey 10000 miles from home to learn from you what you learnt from a great master in my homeland :-) Amazing - and yes, it makes perfect sense - AUM and hum - the primordial sound - the basis of an entire Upanisad - is the source of All music!

    Thank you, and Namaste.

  2. Wayne,
    Beautiful and so helpful to hear as a mother of a five-year old. This meditation helped me last week so I will try it with my daughter. Thank you!


  3. Great thoughts, Wayne - music is the extension of the mind. A technically brilliant musician can be musically inept because he lets his body play the instrument rather than the mind.

    All the best.


  4. Beautifully said. As a piano teacher, I make all my beginners sing while they play, for this same reason - music must first come from themselves, not an outside instrument, and the younger this concept can be established, the better. I am a big believer in starting young, it takes a lot of energy and effort on the teachers part, so it is draining and not all teachers have the time/patience for it, but a great teacher who will take a very young child and start a musical journey with them is worth every cent! Keep up with this great blog!