A very musical Christmas and a happy New Year!

“So here it is, merry Christmas, Everybody's having fun, Look to the future now, It's only just begun” In case you haven’t recognised those lyrics, they come from Slade’s “Merry Xmas Everyone” and a Christmas shopping favourite. Christmas is probably one of the most musical times in the year. It’s amazing just how much music is around, ranging from Christmas songs and carols played in shops, to the famous ‘Carols from Kings College’ on Christmas Eve.

We know these tunes and lyrics by heart having learnt them in childhood. We learned effortlessly in a repetitive style by copying them, not from a book. The Suzuki Method™ adopts this style of learning, where young children learn an instrument by copying their teacher initially, rather than learning the notes first in order to play a tune. It is a method which can work spectacularly well, bringing early success and motivation. The benefits of learning a musical instrument are well documented, with research showing how doing so develops skills across all disciplines. Apart from fine motor skill of hand-to-eye co-ordination, others include concentration; discipline (following instructions); memory (helps with the learning of languages) and pattern recognition (helps with mathematics).

So what can you do, musically, over the Christmas period? Well, how about buying a simple musical instrument for your child? If the idea appeals then I would plead the case for purchasing a tuned instrument rather than a ‘toy’ – it will be easier on the ear and not just yours! Hearing the correct ‘intervals’ between notes gives the correct information to your child’s brain, and what they hear, they will reproduce. A simple glockenspiel or a recorder with an easy tutor book should get them started. Or, how about musical story books with a Christmas theme? An obvious one is “The Snowman” by Howard Blake, an enchanting story suitable from about four years. There will be many others in any good book store.

Do take advantage of a local carol service; the atmosphere and musical experience will be great for your children. On Saturday 10th December 2011, at 3.00 and 7.00pm at St Albans Cathedral, the St. Albans Bach Choir is singing Christmas Carols. The afternoon performance is suitable for children. Tickets are available on the door only. Don’t forget the free carol concerts taking place in Trafalgar Square from Thursday 1st December (when the Christmas Tree is unveiled) to Thursday 22nd December this year.

Finally, we are likely to attend at least one party and enjoy dancing to music. Whatever your style of dancing, it’s a useful skill to be able to feel the pulse and one we use in teaching children music all the time. So, have a good Christmas – and make it musical.

Claire S. Partington

C# Music Tuition
Claire's biography is here