In the previous post here at Homeschooling911 my guest Gerald Crawford discussed ways that you can inspire your child to have a love for music. But what if your child’s interest goes beyond listening to music and attending concerts? What if they try out an instrument (or two) and find so much joy in playing that they want to turn their love of music into a career?
Today, guest author Aaron Schulman offers tips on guiding your child who has an interest in a career in music. Read along and then share this with other homeschooling parents who may be also be looking for guidance when it comes to their child who has a passion for music.
So, your child has an interest, and perhaps even an aptitude for music. Perhaps you are a musician and have some musical talent as a parent, or can barely carry a tune on an mp3 player. There’s hope for both scenarios. Whether your child is an accomplished pianist and is ready for a college career at Oberlin, or whether they are a beginner guitar player and may not make it past the first 2 weeks of practice, the following principles can bring light and guidance. And, as long as you have the time to do some research and have the ability to support your child in one form or another, you can help your child steer toward the “best-fit” for a music career while helping him or her to avoid traps and pitfalls. Here is a list of 7 pointers to help you get started on your research and support your journey with your child. Remember, the sooner you start, the less anxiety you will encounter as you will be more educated and equipped to help guide your child with wisdom.
1) Pray. In all things, acknowledge the Lord and ask for wisdom. James 1:5 states, “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.” (NIV). This verse has become my (and my wife’s) personal life verse and has helped me (us) see the light in thousands of situations when I (we) have needed personal guidance from the Holy Spirit. Because Psalm 119:16 states that all of our days are ordained for us before one of them came to be, we can ask God for wisdom as often as necessary, and can wait for His direction in making decisions, especially when it comes to giving guidance to our children for major life decisions. He already knows what is best for us as well as our children, as He has a plan for them that is perfect. When we continually depend on the Lord for wisdom on a daily basis, and simply ask God in every situation for wisdom, He is faithful to give clarity and direction because He wants us and our children to succeed in the plan He has mapped out for us before we were born.
2) Train. If your child shows interest and has some persistence and aptitude with music, give him or her the best possible training you can afford in time and finance. Sometimes, time and monies are in short supply. When this is the case, consider spending some time online researching online music training that is free or low cost. Many reputable companies supply online training for children and teens that will help them become more advanced in music theory and skills on a specific instrument. Just make sure that the companies who may be training your children are reputable and carry similar family values that are congruent with your own. Search for phrases like, “free guitar lessons” or “best guitar lessons” if you are searching for guitar training. If you are looking for other instruments, just do keyword searches and look for sites that are family safe and have a dedication to quality.
Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.” (NIV) While some obvious applications of this include training your children about following Christ, some Bible scholars have translated the word “way he should go” as “bent”, meaning the child’s particular aptitudes and interests. The 4th definition of “bent” from Dictionary.com is “direction taken, as by one’s interests; inclination: a bent for painting.”
If your child has a bent for music, ask God for wisdom and resources to help train that child up in the way (bent, interest, inclination) he or she should go. For example, I went to college under the pressure that I should be a doctor or lawyer because everyone told me they make good money. I went to college and finished with a pre-med and psychology degree, but had changed to psychology because when I was on my own, I found it much more interesting. If your child is bent in the direction of music, but has other skills as well, be sure to understand the entire package. We are complex beings and God did not make us one-dimensional. Your child might have a skill in playing the guitar, piano or trumpet, but he or she may have a much better skill at teaching and communicating or a desire to help others. If this is the case, they may head in the direction of music education or musical therapy. If we box our children in too narrowly, they may end up in a career without the proper passion.The world needs more people who are passionate (and in alignment with God) about what they do for a living, and less who are stuck in dead-end jobs out of obligations and career choice mistakes. When we force children to go for educational purposes with which they have no passion or aptitude, we are forcing them into frustration and/or failure. Unfortunately, some parents feel compelled to live vicariously through their children and often pressure them to follow a path that God has not designed or intended for them. When we first turn to God and ask for wisdom about our children’s careers and paths, we are already partnering with the best possible “career guide.”
3) Research. Although it is tempting to do all of your research from the comforts of your home, it is good to invest in some outside research. Many colleges have staff and resources to help you find job projections and other social and economic factors and trends that may affect employability. Additionally, they often have co-ops and programs to help high school students do both job skill research and internships. There are many ways for a child to figure out where he or she would work best in a career, but internships can be one of the most assured ways to help a child move toward or away from a career as the real-life experience, while shadowing a professional in your child’s intended career of choice, can be a real “eye-opener.” This kind of experience can either confirm a career direction or help save your child years of unnecessary education or career disappointment.
4) Test. 1 Thessalonians 5:21 says, “Test everything. Hold on to the good.” (NIV) This is another life verse that I have found critical for decision making and plain old practical living. We should test our children and test their aptitudes. There are many psychological and educational resources that will help you discover the way God has wired your child. In addition to some sound secular tests, there are many Christian resources out there that help test your child’s spiritual gifts that are used to build up others and the church. Local home school groups often have great aptitude test resources that can be taken at home. When I taught high school several years ago, one of my students’ favorite activities was taking tests that were self-motivated and revealed to them information about their own wiring and “bent.” These tests can also be a lot of fun your child.
5) Follow Peace. After you have prayed, trained your child, fulfilled all of the reasonable research, and have spent time understanding your child, follow the peace that God places in your heart. Philippians 4:6-7says , “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”Another verse which coincides greatly here is Colossians 3:15 “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.” Countless times, my wife and I have gone to the Lord for guidance in decisions for us and for our children, and many times He did not give us a peace about a particular direction. So we had no choice but to wait and continue to ask for wisdom and press in with more prayer. We have never been shut out of a blessing by waiting for God to give us wisdom and peace when dealing with decisions and when trying to counsel our children. On the flip side, we have often been burned when we have jumped the gun when either one of us has not had a unified peace while making a major decision. We have learned the hard way that it is best to wait for His peace, especially when there is a lot of pressure and confusion compelling us to make a decision. After all, He is the one who is called “Wonderful Counselor” (Isaiah 9:6) and the more we rely on Him, the more His wonderful counsel can come in and bless our direction and decision-making. When we are proud and resist, we only make it more difficult on ourselves and those who are in our care.
6) Get Wise Counsel: Although we know our children best, we should seek professional and wise counsel to help us guide them in their educational and career goals whether they are looking for a career in music or any other field. Go ahead and type “music careers” in Google and see how many different opinions and options exist. Also check out how many schools and institutes are advertising for your tuition dollars! Proverbs 11:14 states, “Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counselors there is safety.” (KJV). When we continue to gain wise counsel from trusted professional and Christian resources for our children’s musical careers, we will continue to move forward in the midst of safety.
7) Trust– Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.” (NIV) When we have done all we can as parents, at some point (or for my wife and I, every day), we must decide to trust God with our decision and the lives of our children. Since He knew them before they were knit together in their mother’s womb, and He has a perfect plan for them, we can do our best, and the “heavy lifting” is really up to God. When we surround them with prayer, love, wise counsel, research, and all of the other challenges that go into being a loving and supportive parent, we ultimately have to trust God to do work in the lives of our children that is beyond our power and control. However, in this trust, we must remember that everything He does in their lives is for their good and His glory, just as it is in ours. Trusting and letting God do what only He can do in their lives can be a peaceful and restful pillow for years to come when our children are out in the world, partnering with Him for a life and a career.
The Author: Aaron Schulman is a husband and father who, along with his wife, is seeking to raise their three girls under Biblical principles and with much needed help from the Lord. He enjoys web development, writing guitar reviews, teaching, counseling, and helping others succeed in life and in their online endeavors. You can read more about him at Aimadvantage.com, his Ohio web design company site.