How to Decide if Your Child is Ready for Music Lessons (and how to inspire your child to practice)

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and it advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #SongsToShare #CollectiveBias

practice box, ad, ready for music lessons

After high school band class one morning, I heard some girls talking about a cute saxophone player. I knew who they were talking about but that was the first day I really noticed him. Fifteen years later, that cute saxophone player is my husband and father to my three kids. It’s hard to believe that some of the most amazing parts of my life started with high school band class!

Taking music lessons, first piano and then guitar, has added so much to my life over the years. As a child and teenager, music helped me learn to set goals, work toward those goals and face the fear of performing in front of a group of people. The aspect of music I enjoyed the most as a young person was the relationships I developed. Some of my best friendships (and my marriage) were developed through the common interest of playing music. Beyond my personal experience, there is a large amount of research on the benefits of children learning music.

I want my kids to have the chance to experience the personal and relational benefits that being involved in music can bring to their lives. When my kids were infants and toddlers I focused on exposing them to music through singing and allowing them to play with kid friendly instruments. I have also always allowed them to play on the real piano, as long as they did not get too rough. With my oldest son I debated about when to start him in private music lessons. Here are a few things I learned about how to decide if your child is ready for music lessons and how to inspire your child to practice.

Let them get started with formal education before putting them in private lessons. My son did not go to daycare or preschool, so his first exposure to a structured learning environment was kindergarten. Even for kids who did go to preschool, kindergarten is a big adjustment. It is tiring because there are new things to get used to, so starting music lessons and kindergarten at the same time might be overwhelming. I also found that having some reading skills is very helpful for learning music. At the very least, it is important for children to be able to recognize and identify letters to help them in the process of learning to read music. I started my son in private piano lessons during his second semester of kindergarten and that worked for him. He was used to the idea and role of a teacher and he knew how to read on a basic level. I think that is the earliest a child should start, with few exceptions. I plan on starting my other two children a little later, in first or second grade.

Consider their emotional maturity before starting private lessons. Private music lessons can help children develop many important life skills such as discipline and goal setting. However, children need the ability to think ahead in order to realize the importance of practicing. When children are very young, they live completely in the moment and do not have the ability to understand that their actions now can impact things later. As they mature, children start to understand the concept of cause and effect to varying degrees. If children start private music lessons without fully understanding the benefits of practicing, getting in practices may become a battle.

My son is at the point now, in second grade, where he fully understands that practicing today is how he becomes a better piano player tomorrow. He likes piano lessons and he loves his teacher. However, there are weeks when he does not get in his four practices. He is the type of kid that likes to see evidence of his progress, so I have been trying to think of a way to give him a visual reminder of where he is on his practice schedule. I was recently in my local Brookshire’s  (I’m always in Brookshire’s trying to rack up YourPoints so I can save on gas) and I noticed that the bottle of Coca-Cola Zero™ I was about to buy had the song lyrics ‘takin’ care of business’ printed on it. The music notes reminded me of my son and got me thinking about ways I could get him to ‘takin’ care of’ his practices. I decided to make him a practice box to hold his music and prominently display his total practices for the week and inspire him to reach his practice goal.

practice box, ad, ready for music lessons

I asked my son to help make the practice box so it would be more meaningful to him. I wanted to use music written out in his handwriting to decorate the practice box. I drew out a staff for him and he filled in the time signature, notes and anything else he thought needed to be added.

practice box, ad, ready for music lessons

When he was done, I took the paper and scanned it into my computer as a photo. Once it was a photo on my computer, I was able to edit it like any other picture. I was inspired by the fun “Share a Coke and a Song” bottles to add a very colorful background. When I originally found the “Share a Coke and a Song” bottles, I couldn’t help but turn each bottle around and look at the different lyrics. On one of the bottles, I noticed some song lyrics I didn’t recognize, so I used my Shazam app on my phone to discover the song. Then, I went over to the Coca-Cola™ website to find out what other songs they were using on the bottles. I read that part of their goal in choosing lyrics was to be fun and uplifting. I love that sentiment and decided to use it as inspiration to use fun colors on the practice box.

practice box, ad, ready for music lessons

Once I got the music staff exactly how I wanted it, I gathered up my supplies so I could get to work. I bought a plain magazine file and printed off enough music staffs to cover it completely. I printed off six staffs on 11X14 paper. Other supplies I used include a small chalk board to display the practice number for the week, permanent mounting squares, chalk, chalk holder, scissors, adhesive, and a clear drying sealer.

practice box, ad, ready for music lessons

I cut out the staffs and started attaching them to the magazine file with the adhesive. I did not try to make the staffs meet up in any certain way or look uniform at all. I cut the pieces into different sizes and attached them to the file. Once the magazine file was covered, I put a coat of clear sealer over the entire practice box to protect the paper.

practice box, ad, ready for music lessons

Once the sealer was dry, I attached the chalkboard to the front of the practice box with permanent mounting squares. The chalkboard is there so my son can write down the number of times he has practiced for the current week. I put a little tin bucket full of chalk beside the practice box for easy access.

practice box, ad, ready for music lessons

Once everything was finished, I displayed the practice box on the piano. Now my son will easily see how many times he has practiced when he walks into the living room.

practice box, ad, brookshiresIf you’re looking for the fun Coke Zero “Share a Coke and a Song” bottles, I found them near the checkout of my local Brookshire’s. As I mentioned before, I couldn’t help but turn each bottle around to look at the different lyrics. It was fun and inspiring to see music used in such an unexpected way! Next time you’re in Brookshire’s, check out the new Coke Zero bottles and see how many of the songs you can identify-you can always use your Shazam app if you get stumped!







A Gift For the Music Lover – Hawk Nelson Made

Christmas Gift Guide Gift Ideas For the Music Lover

Still working on wrapping up your Christmas shopping? You in luck because over the next several days I’ll be giving you some great ideas to make sure your gifts will be amazing ones as I wrap up my Christmas Gift Guide for this year!

Hawk Nelson Made
Legalese Nonsense: Being a long time Hawk Nelson fan how cold I not say yes when offered the chance to review their latest album?! all skeptical hubbies and lyric loving opinions are, as always, my own!

Today for the Music Lover on your list I’m recommending the newest CD from Hawk Nelson, Made.

When I first got this cd in hubby took one look at the cover and said, “Oh–so they’re all hipster main stream now, are they?” And yes, I admit at first glance, and even at first listen, Hawk Nelson seems to have taken the turn that many of their counterparts have in turning away from their original hard edge rock-punk vibe and falling into the trend of high selling, crowd pleasing, punk pop, worship music  vibes.

Continue reading “A Gift For the Music Lover – Hawk Nelson Made”

Jeremy Camp: Reckless CD & I Still Believe: Updated and Expanded

 I have always been a fan of Jeremy Camp’s music. I even got to see him in concert as a newly wed when we lived in Washington D.C. He is a great singer and performer! He had briefly mentioned his past and life during his performance, but as he was one of many singers that night and just opened for Tree 63 he wasn’t able to go to much into it. I was very interested by what he had said, however, and was interested in seeing what his book would be like. Many times people try to branch out into other areas rather than their expertise-sometimes it works, often it doesn’t. Jeremy’s story in I Still Believe
is so compelling that I literally couldn’t put this book down! I read all but the last few chapters in one single sitting—yes staying up waaaay too late to do so. It made me cry and made me smile. As someone who is going through a rough year filled with trials this book was exactly what I needed to put my “small” trials into perspective. Reading about Mellisa’s unbending faith and Jeremy’s struggle and rise above to deep, true faith humbled and inspired me. I absolutely loved this touching story and would highly recommend it to anyone, especially those going through any kind of trial in their life! Plus now it’s been updated and expanded so that the new version is even more gripping and awe inspiring than the first!

Jeremy’s Camp also just released a new CD — Reckless! 11 songs long it delivers the typical upbeat, praise and worship style that you expect to get when you buy a Jeremy Camp CD.  Although all of the songs are jam worthy a highlight of the CD to me was #5 We Must Remember.

We must remember,
that you have forgotten
and you don’t remember our sins anymore

Yes we must remember
That you have forgotten

And you, you died once and for all

As Christians I think we have a tendency to beat ourselves up over things and the Devil loves nothing more than for us to get discouraged–this song is a powerful reminder of our freedom through Christ!

I enjoyed the entire CD–no “skip it” songs to be found here! I’d recommend it for any contemporary Christian music lover–if you’ve never bought a Jeremy Camp cd before then definitely get this one! Be sure to check out the snippets on Amazon so you can listen for yourself!

One lucky winner will receive both Jeremy’s new CD Reckless and his book I Still Believe!

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Hillsong We Have A Savior Review

Since up until now I’ve attended more traditional churches that mainly focus on hymns I’m not super familiar with Hillsong. Once I found out that they are responsible for many of the Worship Song Books in church We Have a Savior made perfect sense. They sing many traditional songs but they all have a definitely “worship” feel to them with extra bridges and phrases added in and various twists on the song. The music is done in a choir/group type style with a few lead singers and backup. With 12 songs that are all considerably longer it goes against the “short and sweet” trend of the other new Christian Christmas CDs I’ve received this year.

Overall I enjoyed this CD but when stacked up with the many others in my collection there wasn’t really anything super special about it that jumps out at me. One track that I really do love and found beautiful was Emmanuel. We Have a Savior makes for great background music and I’ve enjoyed having it on while the kids play and I work– so my overall opinion is that this CD is worth purchasing but not a favorite. I must add that I’m not a huge fan of worship CDs so that is a big part of what plays into my opinion! If you love worship music to listen to at home then you will love this Christmas CD–be sure to read the other reviews on Amazon-4.5 stars so far also listen to the snippets on Amazon so you can get a feel for yourself of the CD!

Don’t forget–I’m giving away a copy of We Have a Savior–but hurry and enter because it ends in just a few days!

Nicole Elliott

Josh Wilson Noel Review

Christmas Gift Guide
Josh Wilson Noel

 This is the first cd of Josh Wilson‘s that I’ve ever listened to and after hearing it I will definitely be checking out his others! Noel has reach my top 3 Christmas CDs in my collection! Overall I love the fact that each of the 10 songs is faith based and he avoids the cliche and annoying main stream secular Christmas songs so many Christian artists include on their CDs. Noel includes two instrumentals–The First Noel & Carol of the Bells–both are just gorgeous! What I love the MOST is when artists write new Christmas songs and Josh has several. The title track–Jesus is Alive–is now one of my very favorite Christmas songs! It’s absolutely beautiful and the lyrics are just amazing! Here are some of them:

Noel, Noel, Jesus is Alive
Emmanuel, Hope is Here Tonight
So go and tell the world that death has died
For Jesus is Alive
Yes, Jesus is Alive

Goosebump worthy!!! Seriously–this track alone would be worth purchasing the cd for!

The rest of the songs are equally moving-in his version of O Come Emmanuel he sings a few phrases in Latin(?) that are just amazing! His other renditions of the traditional carols like Angels We Have Heard on High (my favorite) are done perfectly as well!

In a sea of hurried up and same songs over and over and over again Christmas CDs this one shines bright!

Don’t forget–I’m giving away a copy of Noel of these-so hurry because it’s almost over and enter to win!

Nicole Elliott

Jeremy Camp Christmas: God With Us

 I just love Christmas music! As soon as Thanksgiving is over and our decorations go up I’m listening to it everywhere!

As you might remember I have always like Jeremy’s music and became even more of a fan when I read his book I Still Believe. My favorite Christmas CDs to listen to are ones that are fun, upbeat, and a have traditional songs with a twist-so I figured Jeremy Camp’s CD Christmas: God With Us would be right up my alley!

Sure enough I was right! Short and sweet Christmas: God With Us contains only 10 tracks.  I love the fact that it includes great traditional yet often overlooked songs like Hark The Herald Angel Sings and O Come O Come Emmanuel. His version of Joy to the World is one of the best I’ve ever heard as he takes the classic favorite hymn and adds beautiful Scripture based lyrics to it. He also includes Mary Did You Know–one of my favorite Christmas Songs!

The only thing about the album I would change is the first track–can we please all sign a petition for no one to ever sing “Jingle Bell Rock” ever again? Because really-it seems like EVERYONE sings it and I really get tired of after hearing it *one* time each year.

All in all this CD is a gem and at $10 it’s also a steal! Listen to the songs on Amazon to hear for yourself and check out the rating-so far it has 5 stars!

Nicole Elliott

Jeremy Camp Christmas: God With Us

Christmas Gift Guide

 Who loves Christmas music? I definitely do! Christmas CDs always make great Christmas gifts-though I like to give them a little early so that they can enjoy them! I’m already enjoying Jeremy Camp’s New Christmas CD: God with Us and you can too! I’m doing a super fast giveaway-so enter right away! Be on the lookout for my review–coming soon!

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Nicole Elliott

Cultivation Generation ‘My Foundation’ CD

As Amber gets older I’m amazed at how nothing escapes her notice anymore-including music. The other day a song came out and all of a sudden my 4 year old was belting out the entire lyrics to a Taylor Swift song. Now, while I like Taylor and it’s true that I’ve probably played that particular cd hundreds of times over the past year, it really made me stop and think for a second. Wouldn’t I rather have songs about God and His praises coming from my toddlers lips than a song about a breakup? Obviously the answer to that should be pretty apparent!!

Because of this I’ve been attempting to beef up my Christian music collection even more (it’s already quite big but you can never have too much great music in my opinion!)

I’d never heard of Cultivation Generation and was excited to give it a try. Because  My Foundation (Cultivation Generation Live) is live I wasn’t sure it it would be my cup of tea (I’m not big on live cds) but it didn’t end up affecting me liking this album. The songs are still clear and good quality and there is not a lot of background noise.

This is a compilation album of several different artists so like most albums there were some that I really enjoyed and others not as much. Overall the album has a fun, worship vibe to it and I’d recommend it if you enjoy worship music and are looking to add some diversity into your Christian music collection as well!

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Life So Sweet ~ Mandy Gawley

As I’ve mentioned I have an extremely diverse taste range when it comes to music. I always find myself coming back to my “country roots” over and over again though.

One of my favorite things to do here in Boston is to crank it up when I’m stuck in traffic. Hearing about dirt roads and sunshine makes me picture being out fishing on a cloudless day in Wyoming–rather than being stuck in traffic in the rain here in New England! It was funny that in her song Biscuits & Chicken on Life So Sweet Mandy expresses the same kind of sentiments!

Mandy Gawley reminds me a little of Sugarland in some of her songs, but she definitely has her own unique, yet very country sound. There are a good mix of fun and funky songs, but my favorites on the album are the softer sweeter songs like The Love We Leave Behind and What I Know Now.

Hop on over to Amazon so you can listen for yourself and read what other listeners are saying!

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Dave Barnes Stories to Tell ~ The Rest of the Soundtrack

 Last week I talked about how certain CDs become the soundtracks to my life at various points. I mentioned that along with Sarah’s CD Dave Barne’s Stories to Tell was the soundtrack to my life the past month.

This album makes a perfect Spring anthem. Fun, fresh, and poppy light the songs are love songs with a rock edge. There were a few that I found myself skipping over, but overall I really enjoyed the smooth sound of the album–especially songs like Love Will Be Enough for Me–I’m a sucker for a slow love song *swoon*

Dave is based out of Nashville, TN so his album also has a touch of country to it, which scores brownie points with me as “yankee country bands” as hubby calls them (country singers with a bit more pop than twang to them) are my favorites ever.

Hop on over to Amazon to listen to the album for yourself and read the rest of the reviews–so far he has 4.5 stars!

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