Children who learn to play a musical instrument experience many benefits -- even more so when they develop an affinity for more than one instrument when their passion for playing is strong. Learning to play music can improve brain development, improve memorization, develop fine motor skills and improve literacy among many other advantages. A recent Northwestern University study shows that the act of playing an instrument -- as opposed to sitting in a music appreciation class -- gives kids the opportunity to better enjoy the cognitive benefits of music. And there's certainly something to be said for music performance as an engaging pastime for kids, a skill to develop through practice, with improvements further fueling a love for playing a musical instrument.
If your child is interested in learning how to play an instrument, you might have already seen that private music classes and music schools are expensive, as are new musical instruments, accessories, carrying cases and other necessary items. But steep prices are not necessarily a red light for your child's ability to learn to play a musical instrument. Here are 10 ways to make those music lessons happen for a lower price, as well as a means of acquiring instruments and sheet music on the cheap:
1) Look into group lessons. Many music schools offer group lessons that allow your child personal attention from an instructor and deliver all of the benefits of music education.
2) Look into community education classes. Many towns run a collection of night classes taught by expert instructors, and children's musical lessons are often included. These classes may run for several weeks, getting your child started on the basics with personal attention from a teacher.
3) Sign up for music lessons every other week. There's no rule saying that kids' music lessons must happen every week, and your busy child (who may play sports or be enrolled in other interests as well) may enjoy having more than just a few nights available to practice on his or her own time.
4) Sign up for community Facebook pages. Local group boards are a terrific place to ask other parents in your town where they found low-priced music lessons and instruments. "My son is majoring in music and has taught classes, so when he was returning from college his junior year, I posted his availability to my Facebook group, and found that parents were happy to know he was able to teach their children," says Anne Lee.
5) Hire a college student to teach your child. Reach out to the music department at your local college to ask about recommended students, but be sure to choose one who has experience in teaching. Playing is one skill; teaching is a different skill set important to your child's experience.
6) Go to the library. It's often a surprise to find that libraries lend not only books and DVDs but also musical instruments for letting kids try them without any financial outlay. You'll also find collections of sheet music for lending at the library, also cutting down on the cost of your child's introduction to music performance.
7) Buy used instruments online. You'll find plenty on sites like eBay, and of course exercise good safety practices when buying any item that requires an in-person delivery from the seller.
8) Check out local music schools' social media pages, where their back-to-school discounts may be announced. Coupons may be available there, as well.
9) Check out music instruction videos on YouTube. Be aware, though, that a personal instructor is very important in teaching your child proper methods, such as how to hold a guitar properly. YouTube instruction videos may be a smart budget-saver after a few initial instructor-taught lessons or a community school six-week course.
10) If grandparents play musical instruments, or have taught music lessons, it would be wonderful for your child to visit regularly with them for music lessons that benefit both the child and the grandparent. Plus, learning a musical instrument from a grandparent creates lasting memories and perhaps a shared love of music.