We have heard about the negative affects of touchscreen technology from a therapists perspective but what about other areas of children’s lives? Below is an opinion from George Ramsey, a musician and instructor at Bold Music, LLC.
As a professional musician and guitar teacher, I see first-hand the importance of fine motor skills. Learning the guitar demands developing hand strength and coordination. The earlier a child begins learning these skills, the better—for music and beyond.
The Trouble with Tablets
Every day, technology becomes more integrated into our every day lives. Don’t get me wrong—I’m a huge fan! I use my iPad almost exclusively as a supplement for teaching and gigging. It is the loyal sidekick to my electric guitar. But let me quickly pause to reinforce one very important idea: the iPad is a supplement, not a replacement.
As the owner of a business that teaches children how to play a wide variety of different instruments, I am beginning to see a troubling side effect of young children spending much of their early years on tablets: they are not developing even the most basic finger strength and coordination necessary to learn how to play music. In some cases, children struggle to hold a pencil correctly as they are making notes on music or homework assignments!
As a result, there is a trend emerging in my field where young students, regardless of the instrument they are learning, must spend more time building strength and less time learning music than we would like. Generally, students develop most rapidly at young ages, so this problem has the potential to become a major handicap for the next generation of musicians in our country and worldwide.
Again, I’m the first to admit that I love and use my iPad every day, especially for music, but it is and always will be a supplement to learning a real instrument. You see, learning to play music helps with strength and coordination, but it also does so much more—it teaches discipline, passion, patience, and studies have shown it even aids in cognitive development. These qualities should be important for any parent, so here are a few suggestions:
- Get your young kids to balance time using electronic learning with tangible, hands on activities. An amazing product line that helps kids develop fine motor skills at a young age in a fun, engaging way is called Fundanoodle. You can purchase their products online and in many retail stores across the region.
- When your kids are using a tablet, make them use a stylus, so that they become familiar with holding and effectively using pencil shaped tools. You’ll be thanking us when second grade rolls around and it’s time to learn cursive!
- Of course, get your kids to begin learning an instrument! Kids can generally start banging on drums and learning basic rhythm as toddlers. They can then begin playing piano or keyboard at age 4 or 5, and as they reach 9 or 10, they’ll be ready to pick up a guitar and rock!
George Ramsey and Dean Williams are recent graduates of Davidson College who started Bold Music with a simple vision: to reinvent music education in the Charlotte area. Beginning last September, the duo has grown the company from having just one instructor offering guitar lessons to offering instruction on a variety of instruments, including guitar, bass, piano, drums and vocal coaching. Bold music’s professional, clean cut and personable instructors travel to you, making for an exceedingly convenient educational experience in the comfort of your own home. Additionally, the company offers a variety of performance opportunities as well as an intensive studio recording and songwriting camp during the summer. For more information visit www.BoldMusicLessons.com.