Top Tips For Dealing With Musical Tantrums

A child who is learning to play an instrument, WILL tantrum. I say this with such confidence because I was, THAT tantruming child. And of all the children I have looked after during my nannying years… they have all tantrum-ed too.

My own personal childhood tantrums whilst learning to play the piano followed a very predictable chain of events:

  1. Start growling and repeatedly returning to troublesome part of the piece
  2. Growl and play louder for every repetition
  3. Scream
  4. Simultaneously hit both piano pedals whilst using two full hands to hit every key of the piano, starting with the middle keys and working my way to the outside keys
  5. Blame Mum
  6. Cry and run to my room

I remember Mum getting very frustrated with me, and now for me as an adult, I too find it very frustrating when a child throws a paddy during their practice. But, as adults we are (usually!) far more capable of problem solving and reasoning. From a child’s perspective, the inability to play those crucial few bars of music… might as well be the end of their little world!

So here are my top 5 tips for dealing with the musical tantrums…

No. 1

Keep anger at bay and get them away!

Getting angry with an instrument is never going to be productive. The instrument can’t fight back and you’re more likely to damage it. Also, an angry rage is blinding- so the chances are the rest of their instrument practice is going to be quite unproductive if they continue in this mindset. So try to keep your own frustration at bay also, and get the child to take a little break. 5 or 10 mins and a biscuit can do wonders.

No. 2

This too shall pass.

It’s just a tantrum- they’ve had them before! In the grand scale of their musical career, a tantrum here and there isn’t going to make too much of a difference. Especially for those parents who perhaps don’t play an instrument- it’s good to remember that sometimes when playing you can have pretty major off days! I know that when I have an off day, I don’t want an off day, but singing or playing through the mistakes can be a bit debilitating on the musical ego. Just leave it or do something different with your practice.

No. 3

Days off.

Don’t make music a chore. Both kids and adults need days off and time to rest. Prevent a few tantrums by not pushing the young musician EVERY day.

No. 4

Move along please!

If the tantrum seems manageable, or you are able to interrupt them before it gets too bad. Suggest moving on to the next part of their practice. Cleverly suggesting something they are more confident with, might also be a good idea. Then return to the troublesome piece/section/scale when they’ve almost forgotten about it.

No. 5

Variety variety variety!

Now for some advice on how to actually tackle the difficult bits that are causing these tantrums. Your child might respond well to some calm input and advice from yourself. What bar of music are they falling over every time they get there? Take it apart, bit by bit, note by note. Play it slow, very slow, different rhythms (very good for scales and music with runs, loud, soft, look for the chord progressions if there are any, staccato and legato. Then move away from the specific section, take a relaxing breath and start the piece or section from the beginning. You’ll find when you reach the tricky part, that it should have made some improvements.

 

The main thing with all of the above, is that you keep them coming back to their instrument. After all, they need to learn that practice makes perfect! Hard work is the key to success and nothing comes easy… all those cliche phrases! As long as they return, in 5 minutes or tomorrow, or the next day… then the tantrum is almost worth it.

Rhythm and Rhymes.

Two words I can never spell! An easy way to remember rhythm….. Rhythm Helps Your Two Hips Move!

I was just having a little think about how you can start focusing with the kids on words, and rhythms at home. Language is so important (obviously!), and singing is a natural progression from basic speech. I’m sure most of us were singing nursery rhymes before we could really talk properly! There’s a reason why they’re called ‘nursery’ rhymes… they’re mostly recited in the nursery!

In case you didn’t already know, I’m also a Nanny. And that means I’m quite bored of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, so I’ve started making my own rhymes up! The great thing about this, is you can make them all about your life in your home, or about anything at all really! Stick to a basic limerick structure, and you’ll quickly find yourself with quite an extensive repertoire of rhymes. Here’s one that took me all of 2 minutes to think of, it’s about my little naughty pooch Lola…

Lola Lola little dog, can we play fetch the ball?

‘No’ said Lola the little dog,

the cat’s upon the wall!

And of course, you can set it to a little tune! Without even realising it, you’re developing language skills, rhythm and rhyme. Depending on the age of your kids, you can even engage them in the composition itself.

Twinkle Twinkle no more!

Singing for body and soul.

It’s no secret that singing is good for you. MUSIC, is good for you. So naturally, why not ensure that your youngsters are reaping the benefits of a tra-la-la sing song!

So is there any science behind it? Of course there is…. Let’s focus on the benefits of singing, and explore why we should all be singing a little more and living a little better!

Singing is an exercise and choir is a team sport. A properly trained opera singer really is the iron man of the creative world in my eyes. The number of muscles they engage in order to produce a sound that can be heard at the back of an auditorium and over the top of a full scale orchestra…. astounds me. Sing properly, and it’s a full scale workout. I try to get kids to start identifying a few of these key muscle groups we use in singing from the word GO.

Singing is therefore an aerobic exercise.  It gets your heart and lungs working and at Musicato the kids are far from standing still for a whole session!

There once was a very brainy person at Harvard, who proved that singing long term in a choir, actually prolonged life expectancy. According to him, there were some very dedicated choir-goers out in Connecticut who were growing old very gracefully!

So you’re exercising two of your most vital organs- it’s a good start.

Singing ALSO improves your mental state.

As adults we tend to run around like headless chickens these days. You’ve missed your connection, you’re late to collect from the play date and poor little Tommy is hungry for dinner. WAAAAAA. And the cortisol is released by the bucket load.

It’s not just us ‘big people’ who get stressed. People are forever talking about the added pressures that children and young people are faced with today, without them picking up on our own stress energies!

Don’t worry- singing is here to help! Singing lowers cortisol levels and releases your happy hormones… endorphins are released all from belting out a good tune. And singing in a choir is collaborative, social and bonding- all so good for a child’s emotional and mental wellbeing.

When it comes to Musicato, we’re always leading the children with a good vocal technique. We take a minute to listen to our breath and feel where it comes from. We start engaging the right singing muscles from the start, and we encourage a whole lot of noisy fun! The endorphins are flowing, the stress levels are flying out the window, and little Tommy can go home to his dinner a happy boy.

The story behind Musicato

I suppose I have a lot to thank The Beatles for. Not only have I been serenaded to with Hey Jude more times than you can shake a stick at, but you’ll find me in a multitude of phone books saved as Hey Jude also. I get Hey Jude in my Birthday cards, text messages, gifts of canvas pictures… need I go on?

haven meAt the age of 10, wearing a dreadful iridescent pair of John Lennon style spectacles, I paraded on stage at a Cornish Haven campsite and sang When I’m Sixty Four, to my delight coming in first place at the Talent Show and winning a week long holiday for my family.

Alongside thanking Paul McCartney, I also thank my amazing Mum for investing her student loan into buying her eldest ‘noisy’ daughter a piano. Week after week, I was driven to piano lessons, singing lessons, ballet lessons, tap lessons, stage school… and all the accompanying exams that came with them! The musical traffic light was set to green and off I went on my destined musical journey… finally arriving today at Musicato.

haven me 2

Returning to Haven in the Autumn to reclaim my title. Came in 2nd place this time. Should have worn my sunglasses.

Once a musician, always a musician. Even when I thought my career was veering off far far away from the stave, it quickly became apparent that I wasn’t myself or doing what made me… me. I put the brakes on corporate life, and started working as a Nanny in South Kensington. I already felt more fulfilled and satisfied with my new lifestyle- the one thing about working with kids, is they somehow make you smile, every day.

Without even realising, music was slowly creeping back into my world. I was teaching piano again, singing with the babies, helping the eldest with her cello. I spent the whole of a Winter term taking the two eldest to singing class- and putting it bluntly, I couldn’t believe what I was watching or hearing. Where was the music?

This particular class was CHAOS. As each week went by, my desire to start my own music class grew. I never thought I would go back to teaching music, but now, I felt like it was the only thing that I wanted to do.

I could go on and on about how much I believe in a really good sing song. And I will in future blogs! But for now, I just wanted to explore a little about where Musicato has come from and what I hope it to be. Musicato is far from the draughty village hall choirs of bygone days- its musical morals lay firmly in sparking that initial interest in a child’s mind to chase a musical dream. Choir is a place to make friends, sing great songs that they can ‘perform’ at home for the rest of the week, and come away knowing a little bit more after every lesson.

Music can be a hobby, a great skill, a career… and don’t get me started on the benefits of a good musical education! Even the boring bits can be delivered in an enjoyable way (time to drag out the Rudiments of Theory if any fellow musicians out there care to reminisce!). Musicato focuses on boosting performance confidence and creativity, whilst also teaching a proper vocal technique and basis of a musical education that can be built on throughout a child’s years.

‘Musos’ as we used to call ourselves at Uni- we like to stick together! And I’m so pleased that my best choir buddy of many years is coming to join us and teach with me at Musicato. Together, and supported by other talented classically trained musicians, we can’t wait to bring a whole lot of tuneful noise to the Little People of South West London.

Thank you for reading, and we look forward to sharing our musical venture with you and your family.

For more information on Musicato, have a peek at our website at www.musicato.co.uk. All bookings can be made via the website and via Facebook.

Summer Holiday Choir Workshops 2017

Looking for the perfect holiday activity for the aspiring Prima Donna? With our workshops, we deliver exactly that. Half a day of action-packed musical activities focusing on rhythm, musicianship and vocal performance. Even the most sensitive of ears are then welcome to listen to our grand finale performance.

£40 per child per session

CLICK HERE to register and purchase tickets

Early bird bookings 20% off till May 31st!

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Dates available:

18th July 2017, 9:30am – 12:30pm. Ages 5-6 years

25th July 2017, 9:30am – 12:30pm. Ages 7-8 years

1st August 2017, 9:30am – 12:30pm. Ages 5-6 years

8th August 2017, 9:30am – 12:30pm. Ages 7-8 years

All workshops are held at St Phillips Church, Earls Court Road, W8 6QH.

Places are limited and secured by payment.

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Musicato Children’s Choirs

Ages 5-6 Years & 7-8 Years

Musicato choir rehearsals are the highlight of the week! We bring a repertoire bursting full of catchy tunes and songs to keep them motivated and active the whole way through. Concentrating on performance and boosting confidence and self expression, all whilst teaching a basic theory of music. All choirs work towards an end of term showcase.

Sign up budding musicians today for their place in Musicato Choir this September!

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2017/18 Term Dates

Autumn Term- £195 (13 weeks)

16th September – 14th October

HALF TERM

4th November – 16th December

CHRISTMAS BREAK

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Spring Term- £135 (9 weeks)

13th January – 3rd February

HALF TERM

24th February – 24th March

EASTER BREAK

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Summer Term- £165 (11 weeks)

21st April – 19th May

HALF TERM

9th June – 14th July

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