The Truth: an open letter from KCMA Music Director Mark Ballard. Hello, below are five things a parent should do if their children want to play an instrument. I gave my first lesson in 1977 and have seen uncountable students come and go. Some have gone on to Berklee, some have mastered their Xbox with their dusty guitar leaning in the corner for looks. 5 – Speaking of guitars – provide them with a quality instrument. Nothing will make your child want to throw in the towel more quickly than an instrument that is difficult to play and never makes a good sound. You don’t have to break the bank but a modest investment here will DEFINITELY make a huge difference! At KC Music we’ve explored almost every manufacturer out there and only carry AFFORDABLE instruments, in kid sizes that are guaranteed to provide a quality playing experience. Not a Martin D-28 or Steinway Grand in sight – and darn proud of it! 4 – DON’T QUIT YOUR CHILD!!! Chances are they will have a meltdown at some point and want to quit. This is a teachable moment that will show your child that hard work is wildly rewarding. Many times parents quit FOR their kids because it’s a hassle to take them to practice. Can you imagine??? 3 – Lessons! Sign ‘em up for lessons. This is such a worthwhile investment. Lessons with an inspirational instructor will steer your child in the right direction and build the foundations that are necessary for them to move forward! Story time: I once had the honor of recording Hillary Duff. After the session, she asked for additional copies of the songs. No problem – but I asked why. She wanted a copy for each of her THREE voice coaches. The biggest kid star in the world at the time (Lizzie McGuire anyone?), worth millions, who could sing like an angel said “I’ve learned that ‘practice makes perfect’ isn’t just a saying, it’s my truth”. I’ll never forget her truth! 2 – Schedule practice time!!! You’re actually teaching your child a life lesson here called discipline. If you asked the finest musicians in the world what their secret is, the vast majority (THE VAST MAJORITY!!!) would point out that grinding it out daily is still necessary even at the highest level! 1 – Balance. If all your child does while practicing is run scales and memorize notes they will likely become frustrated and bored – I sure would (did). Let them create, go off book, EXPLORE! This is where passion is nurtured… There is a time for regiment – but at the same time, there must be a time for fun! Please keep these things in mind when your young musician asks for an instrument this Christmas. By the way – you can bring ALL of your kids to KC Music Academy for ALL of the above! We practice what we preach!!!