Sound Choices: Guiding Your Child's Musical Experiences

Sound Choices: Guiding Your Child's Musical Experiences

Sound Choices: Guiding Your Child's Musical Experiences

Sound Choices: Guiding Your Child's Musical Experiences


What should you do when your three-year-old Sesame-Street aficionado suddenly announces that he wants to study the violin? Or when your seven-year old informs you that he does not want the shiny new red bicycle you just bought him for his birthday, nor the spiffy new box of high-tech paints, but really wants to have piano lessons-- today ? What should you say when your ten-year old shouts that she hates that nasty new $1500 violin you just invested in, hates violin period, and is never going to practice again? Are there any software packages that can teach that teen-age Jimi Hendrix rehearsing in the garage next door how to read music? How should you answer the bewildered parent whose little girl wants to study the tuba and can take it for free at school? These and many other commonly asked and often puzzling questions are answered in Sound Choices: Guiding Your Child's Musical Experiences. This invaluable resource empowers over-busy, frequently harried, and technically- savvy twenty-first century parents to be consumer-wise participants in the music education of their children. Written by nationally recognized music educators who have been asked--and have answered--all these questions thousands of times, this user-friendly book offers information and practical advice about a large and varied number of issues in an accessible format that will enable parents to make informed decisions about music experiences and training for their children. Beginning with an ages and stages organization from infancy to adolescence, Sound Choices offers concise, age-specific information on musical experiences from generating interest to motivating practice and life-long enjoyment. Subsequent chapters provide detailed suggestions for choosing an instrument, finding a qualified teacher, and assessing the financial implications of musical study. Here also are practical strategies for such troublesome issues as evaluating the student-teacher relationship, changing teachers, monitoring practice, and useful comparisons of the varying points-of-view of parents, teachers, and children. A separate section discusses how parents might deal with a musically gifted child or how music might enhance the development of a child with special needs. Concise, comprehensive, and easy-to-use, Sound Choices features wide margins and useful icons to highlight key information and helpful questions. It is also a treasure trove of annotated resources that serves as an outstanding reference source for music related books, recordings, CD-ROMs, software, videos, movies, magazines, games, teaching aids, catalogs, and directories (including a directory of national sources for finding a qualified teacher). There are over thirty-one million family households in the United States with young children under the age of eighteen. Parents in these households now, more than ever, are looking outside and beyond the public school system to furnish educational opportunities for their children. For many parents, enrolling their children in music instruction is an attractive option. Yet most parents have no idea how to go about this. Sound Choices provides the answers for those who want to create an environment that will prepare their children for a lifetime of active involvement with music.


From my earliest memory, music was a constant in my life. My father was a jazz drummer. Music was his job, and he loved it. My mother played the piano, not frequently and not particularly well. What she really loved was opera. Every Saturday afternoon she had the Metropolitan Opera radio broadcast wafting through the house.

As a teenager, my oldest brother James (he sometimes calls himself the "non-musical Chapin") was a faithful listener to pop radio. Because of him we all knew every song on top 40 radio in the late 50s and early 60s.

My father's mother, Abby Forbes Chapin, insisted that her grandchildren take music lessons, and she paid for them. She was an educator and wanted us to know "the language of music."

In 1953 when I was 8, we moved to Brooklyn Heights in New York City. Shortly thereafter my brother Steve and I joined the Grace Episcopal Church Choir of Boys and Men. We learned to sing harmony and to sight-read music. and we experienced the discipline and delight of making music with other people.

In the summer of 1958, my brothers, Harry and Steve, and I heard a record -- The Weavers at Carnegie Hall -- that pointed the way toward the rest of our musical lives. All summer we listened to the voices of Pete Seeger, Ronnie Gilbert, Fred Hellerman, and Lee Hayes. We marveled at the strength and simplicity of the guitar and banjo arrangements. and we loved the sense of commitment and community these great songs and singers evoked.

At the end of that summer, my brother Harry said, "We could do that!" and so we did. Harry got a five-string banjo and the Pete Seeger book and began to play. I scraped together twenty-five dollars for my first guitar. With Steve on bass, we became "The Chapin Brothers."

Flash forward thirty-five years. Now I'm a professional musician who makes a living doing what he loves. I'm a writer and singer of songs for old and young. I still travel the road that the Weavers introduced me to so long ago. I look back and feel blessed to have grown up in such a creative atmosphere.

But I am also a father trying to nurture his own children. Like you, I'm very involved and concerned with how to help my kids know and . . .

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