How to Unlock Kids’ Creativity and Confidence Through Music with Felicia Bond – Episode 2

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About Knowledge Bytes Episode 2 “How to Unlock Kids’ Creativity and Confidence Through Music”

On episode 2 of the Knowledge Bytes podcast, our guest is Felicia Bond, a master music instructor with over 16 years of experience learning and teaching music! Kids can benefit greatly from learning to play an instrument. What are the benefits? Music can enhance kids’ creativity, time management skills, and more. Listen to Felicia’s expertise to find out!

We discuss:

  • What age to start learning an instrument
  • The benefits for kids – cognitive abilities, skills, creativity, etc.
  • Advice for parents
    • How to support a child interested in music
    • How to encourage a child who’s hesitant
  • Tips for finding a great instructor
  • Advice for the learning journey


What next?

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You can find Felicia on Lessonpal and book music lessons with her.

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Episode transcript

[00:00:00] Kaitlin: Hi everyone, my name is Kaitlin Fenn. I’m the host of Knowledge Bytes and I’m really excited to be joined today by our guest, Felicia Bond, to discuss the benefits of learning an instrument for kids, how to get them into music, and more about the entire music world. So to give everyone listening a bit of Felicia’s background before we get into our discussion… she’s from Mobile, Alabama, and has 18 years of music experience between playing and teaching music. She studied instrumental instrumental music education at William Carey University in Mississippi and went on to get a master’s in Music Education with a concentration in Woodwind Pedagogy.

Felicia is a licensed educator and teaches all levels of students in flute, clarinet, saxophone, and piano, plus gives voice, music history, and music theory lessons. So a lot of experience coming our way.

[00:01:00] Felicia. I’m super excited to hear your expertise today. How are you doing?

[00:01:04] Felicia: I’m so great. Thank you so much. How are you?

[00:01:06] Kaitlin: Yeah, I’m doing well as well. Happy to be here and have you on today. So we’ll just start with a pretty, a background question. So how did your passion for music come about and at what age?

[00:01:21] Felicia: I’ve always grown up in a musical household. My mom played piano and then my dad was a music minister in church.

So music quite literally was part of my everyday life. And so when it came to fifth grade in school and they were like, you can either do PE or you can do band. And I was like, I’m gonna do band. I got tried out an instrument, they came back with clarinet. I had never really heard of the clarinet before, but I was like, you know what? Anything’s better than PE. So I stuck out with it and then I just kept doing it and I really loved it.

And then when it came time to go to college and I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do, I always knew from like when I was a really tiny kid playing school with my brothers that I wanted to be a teacher.

I just didn’t know what kind. And so I was [00:02:00] really thinking about it and just my love for music and my love for education came together and I found this thing called music education, and that’s the path I took. And then I loved it so much that after I graduated, like by, with my bachelor’s, I went back to get my master’s and I’ve loved it ever since and it’s my favorite thing.

[00:02:17] Kaitlin: That is, that’s so awesome. I think that that’s great when you find something you’re so passionate about and your world’s kind of, kind of collide like that. That’s great. So kind of going off of the age aspect of learning music, is there a certain age that’s considered best to start learning an instrument or be introduced to music?

Anything that you’ve studied in school that yeah, that points to that. I don’t really think it’s too young to ever introduce a kid to music. I would say that depends on what instrument you want to learn. There may be like an age thing only because your body is still developing through childhood.


[00:02:55] Felicia: I wouldn’t start anybody younger than like nine. 10 or 10 years old on a wind [00:03:00] instrument like the clarinet, saxophone, the trumpet, trombone, anything like that just because your lungs aren’t fully there. Now as far as piano, I’ve started kids as young as two years old. I know other teachers have done like one and a half.

Usually, I see mostly like four and five-year-olds when I start teaching piano. Violin’s another really good one, which you can start really young. I think the youngest I’ve ever seen is three. But again, more commonly I see like 4, 5, 6, somewhere in there to start actually playing the instrument.

[00:03:30] Kaitlin: And are, is that because kids that young are more, pick it up quicker or are more adaptable?

[00:03:37] Felicia: I don’t know if it’s that it’s picked up quicker for the piano. It sounds the same no matter who’s playing. It doesn’t matter if you know a two-year-old is playing it, or someone who’s played it for 35 years is playing it. It sounds the same. It’s the techniques and the artistry that you have behind it.

The piano is a really great way to, you know, get dexterity and practice fine motor skills because you’re having to use one finger at a time and two [00:04:00] hands at a time that may not be doing the same thing. So that’s a really good one. Violin’s really good as well. There’s a method called the Suzuki Method that teaches kids by sound rather than sight.

They learn how to play their instrument before they know how to read music. So it meets kids where they’re at and it allows them to kind of grow and learn as well.

[00:04:22] Kaitlin: That’s super cool. I was just thinking that, you know, if I started trying to play piano, I might sound like a two-year-old playing the piano.

But, but that’s great. That sounds like a really cool really cool method. And then when kids start learning, What are some of the benefits? So, I mean, you mentioned dexterity, so the fine motor skills, but are there any other benefits for kids as they start learning and instrument?

[00:04:50] Felicia: Oh yeah, there’s tons of them.

So it’s, my favorite thing about music is that it goes across different subjects. So you get a little bit of history, you [00:05:00] get, you know, the arts with music, you get language. Most of language is either in French or Italian or Latin. And so you’re learning how to recognize these words. You’re also learning how to make these shapes and these weird things into actual music and make an inanimate object, make noise, which is really cool.

And it also, well, I don’t know. Personally, I, I mean like everybody’s very different, but I found that it really releases some anxiety for me, especially test anxiety if just listening to music. And then also, you know, it’s time management. You can learn how to manage your time through playing instruments.

Like if you only have so much time to practice, or you know you have to practice before your next lesson, and your teacher wants you to do a total of two hours a week, you have to kind of break that up until the next time you see them. It also teaches, you know, critical thinking skills. Instruments like the saxophone, the clarinet, the flute.

They have different fingerings for different notes. So you have to [00:06:00] think about like, okay, is this fingering the best for this situation or is this one better? And why is it better? You also learn problem-solving skills. So how can I figure out what this rhythm or what this passage of music is trying to convey to me, how can I figure that out?

Well, what kind of skills do I already have that my teacher’s given me that I can go and kind of tackle this on my own? And the list goes on and on.

[00:06:26] Kaitlin: Yeah, I’m sure. I was gonna, I was also gonna ask are there any specific benefits or effects on the brain? I’m sure maybe in. Some of your courses in, in your masters, maybe you’ve read some studies or different things related to music education, but how does, how does learning music affect the brain? And you mentioned anxiety, I’m sure maybe there’s other effects as well.

[00:06:50] Felicia: Yeah, so I, you know, my personal experience, it relieves anxiety a little bit. You know, there’s always those studies from back when you listen to like Mozart in the womb, you’ll come out [00:07:00] with like this genius child. I don’t know if that has much merit at all, but I’ve definitely read some studies that, you know, back up that music helps again across cross-curricular stuff where you can bring in different subjects like the history of this instrument or what was happening.

In history at this point where your music was, you also have to count in music. You have to be able to take the beats and then divide them into smaller things and try to figure out, it’s like this big math problem or if you’ve ever played Sudoku. It’s kind of like that, trying to figure all that out.

There was one study and I wish I knew who it was, by, but they just went on and on and on about the benefits and they were one of the first ones to actually put these. Questions and try to gauge some kind of like, is this true or not? And they found that most of it was true to some degree between the ages of, and again, it’s been a while since I’ve read it.

I think it was between the ages of four to 16 was their target group, and they found some kind of improvement [00:08:00] academically in those students.

[00:08:03] Kaitlin: Wow. That’s, that’s really interesting. And yeah, it does. It, it kinda I was, I was teaching English in Spain, actually last year and, and the year before and I was in some music classes.

And they were learning the different notes and the, and you know, dividing the beats and things like that. And I didn’t, I, I didn’t realize, ’cause I don’t come from a music background, but I didn’t realize that there was so much math involved. Like, like you mentioned you

[00:08:30] Felicia: Right.

[00:08:30] Kaitlin: And that’s really cool that there, they have found effects on academic performance.

That’s really interesting. Mm-hmm.

Yeah. And then are, are there any other additional skills children can learn? We’ve talked about a lot of them already. But I dunno, I’m thinking about, and there’s, there’s a whole spectrum, I guess, of ways that kids can get involved in music. ‘Cause there’s orchestras, there’s bands, so I’m just kind of thinking about any other additional skills that kids can [00:09:00] learn from being involved in music.

[00:09:02] Felicia: Absolutely. I mean like orchestra is like the strings and the wind instruments and percussion, and then you have wind band, which is no strings and just wind instruments and percussion and all these different groups. Then you have like the rock bands or the garage bands and you have opera voice-wise, like there’s so many different ways you can go into it where all of them have different paths. You talk, you some people talk about being classically trained versus just like self-taught. And even there, I mean, I, I say that I’m classically trained because I started in band, I started with a teacher. They taught me my clarinet and I am not able to do what some of people who can just, who are self-taught, who just can hear with their ear. I can do it to some degree, but it’s like they’ve trained completely differently than I have and I’m like, I wish I could do that. I wish, like I could learn that and they’ve tried teaching me, but I think I’m too wired to be like, everything has a place. This is how it all [00:10:00] goes. A very rural thing. I mean, we’ve talked about like time man- time management is one that always like surprised me is because. Not only do you have like so many hours to practice or so many, you know, 30 minutes to practice a day, but also a lot of times you have to be early to performances no matter if you’re going the orchestral route or if you’re going like a garage band, like punk band, like whatever kind of band.

Because you have to warm up. You have to set up. And whenever that conductor or that person is intended to start, you have to start at that time. You should already be warmed up. You should already be ready to go before then. So you have to build enough time not only to travel to your destination, but also to set everything up.

Make sure you’re completely ready to go for either the rehearsal or performance. So that way everything goes smoothly. You have to think ahead. There’s that hand-eye coordination with reading music. You have to see something on the page. Then you have to like do it with your hands or your voice or [00:11:00] whatever it is.

You have that. Reaction to it, which is also really cool. And I’m going blank on so many more, but I know as soon as we stop, I’m gonna be like, yo, there’s this and this and this.

[00:11:12] Kaitlin: I guess, I guess there’s an element of creative expression too maybe later down the line. Once a student, you know, is more comfortable with an instrument or more advanced in their level. But I’m sure that comes into play too. Some, you know, creativity and collaboration.

[00:11:29] Felicia: Yeah, and that’s where the music theory comes in too. You kind of learn, I call it the calculus for music because it’s so meticulous and you have to be so on top of your stuff to move to like the next thing. But you learn like, “Why does this chord look this way, but this chord isn’t?” or “Why are these two chords the same, but not really?”.

Or “When this chord goes to this chord, what happens or what’s preferred?” And you kind of learn all of these really cool things to start writing your own music, which is always a really awesome thing. [00:12:00] Or you can, learn to improv like jazz band. You get a little bit of music theory behind it, and then you have that creative expression where there’s no music in front of you.

Well, there’s music in front of you in jazz band, but you know, the solos are mostly improv and they just go and they just know what to do and it’s so cool to even watch that. So yeah, absolutely. Creative expression.

Yeah. Very cool.

[00:12:21] Kaitlin: And if so, say, you know, any parents listening to this that are thinking about getting their children involved in music or learning an instrument. Maybe they learned an instrument as a kid and they want to get their children into music, or their kid is super interested in learning an instrument. And they’re starting, starting there. What is some advice you could give to parents about the best way to approach. Maybe “example A” kid that doesn’t have very much interest, but the, the parent sees the benefits and wants to get them involved. And then maybe the other case where the kid is super interested, but the, the parent doesn’t have much [00:13:00] experience or knowledge about music and instruments and where to start.

Yeah, absolutely.

[00:13:05] Felicia: I wanna say that, you know, if the kid’s not super interested, I wouldn’t go out and try to invest all of this time and this money and these resources into it. I would start with something like the piano. The piano is so accessible. You can get a keyboard from your local music store offline, and you know, That’s something that you can play around with.

And oftentimes teachers can get the kids to play some, a song that they really like and then that kind of gains a little bit of interest and you can kind of bring it on back. But also, if they’re not sure exactly what they wanna go into, they just know something. Music, everything can be reduced down to the piano.

Every instrument, every voice technique, everything can be reduced down to that piano. And that’s where that music theory comes in. That’s. The instrument they use for music theory to kind of map out all the chords and everything. So piano is a really great option. If you’re not entirely sure or something like guitar, something that is easily [00:14:00] accessible that a lot of people can play.

Even if you’re not sure. Now, if the kid is super interested and the parent’s not entirely sold on it, I wanna say just give it a shot for just a little while. Say like, for a month we’ll try music lessons and, you know, for that month we’ll see what happens. And a lot of times the parents are just like impressed in what you can learn in just a month and just like 2, 3, 4 lessons.

It’s really amazing what kids will just soak up like a sponge. And if they’re really passionate about, you know the flute, but you don’t wanna start with the flute. You can again go back to the piano and the guitar or violin or whatever it is that you are really focusing on or really interested in for sure.

[00:14:43] Kaitlin: Awesome. And as as an instructor yourself, what I’m sure you kind of have, have some teaching philosophy. So what’s your teaching philosophy with your students? What, what ages do you primarily teach too? [00:15:00]

[00:15:00] Felicia: Primarily I teach ages. I wanna say like four and a half, almost five to 16 is probably like my, the most I get.

I also teach adults and kids younger, or even kids older. I would say my teaching philosophy can be reduced down to creative. Teaching leads to enthusiastic learning. So if I’m being really enthusiastic and creative with my instruction and I’m giving everything I have that student’s probably gonna receive that and be like, oh yeah, this is really cool this is really fun. And I do that through getting songs that they already know and we play through that. Or we’ll play games where it doesn’t really feel like we’re learning, but we are learning. You know, like rhythms or music notes or just something and pull in a lot of resources so that way they’re, they’re excited to come.

It’s the highlight of their week that they get to come to music and learn something new that they didn’t know before.

[00:15:58] Kaitlin: That’s awesome. That’s the [00:16:00] best one when, when you kind of see the light bulb too. When kids are engaged and they’re excited that’s the best.

[00:16:06] Felicia: That’s the best feeling ever. I love it. Never gets old.

[00:16:10] Kaitlin: And then, so I guess if parents are looking for an instructor, a tutor, teacher whether it’s online or in person what are some. What are some tips you would have for them to pick a great instructor? So, I don’t know, prioritizing creative teaching like you mentioned or certain experience anything along those lines.

[00:16:35] Felicia: I would pick someone who, you know, obviously knows their stuff and they don’t have to be like, they don’t have to have a college degree, they don’t have to have a master’s degree to show that they know what they’re talking about. I mean, I’ve been teaching private lessons since before I was in college, when I was in high school, and my instruction has definitely evolved over the years, but I was still able to teach like beginner students when I was in high school and try to help them and meet them where they [00:17:00] are. When you’re looking for an instructor, I think it’s really super important to find something that meshes really well, not only with your child, but also their learning style.

Teaching styles can change and I can differentiate my instruction and meet the child where they’re at, but more importantly, you want them, the instructor to be, you know, with your kid, you don’t want them talking, you know, really big words to someone who’s really little and has, and maybe is in kindergarten and stuff like that.

You just, the biggest thing I would say is just find somebody who is energetic and who is gonna meet your kid where they’re at, and that is the most important.

[00:17:42] Kaitlin: Great tip. Okay. And then, let’s see. Last question. And maybe you, maybe at the end you have a last “Knowledge Byte” to share with everyone, but I’m curious… we’ve seen a lot of AI development, artificial intelligence, TikTok has become super [00:18:00] popular and there’s a lot of artists on TikTok, people teaching voice different, you know, chords, things like that. So I’m curious to know if in your teaching, so over the, over the past few years maybe have you seen the music landscape changing either on the student side or the teaching side because of these, these new technological developments?

[00:18:29] Felicia: Well, you know, I love TikTok. I can’t get off of it, so I’m always on there and I always see really cool things and it, I think it’s so beneficial for me as a teacher because we’re, we’re still learning.

We’re still growing. There’s not one teacher that knows everything. Maybe they, someone else has a different trick that I haven’t tried yet or vice versa. And I really love it because I find that there’s a lot of information on there that’s in just a short amount of time that will still gain interest.

So if you’re interested in singing and you [00:19:00] go on TikTok and you see that someone’s teaching, singing, that’s going to, you know, heighten your interest just a little bit, you’re more inclined to be like, oh wow, this is really nice. I probably should go find a teacher who can teach me the same thing. I don’t have too much experience with artificial intelligence.

I have played around with it, so I don’t know exactly like, the extent of it as far as TikTok, I mean, there are so many good things on there. It’s accessible because it, it’s a free app that, you know, anybody can download and they can go search up like voice teachers or clarinet teachers or piano teachers and find some kind of something that, and kind of learn from that.

And that will pique interest as well. And I think it’s such a great platform, especially like YouTube as well, that’s more of a longer form video. So if you need more instruction just from like that one little, I don’t know, thirty-second, one-minute video, you can head over to YouTube. And technology is just so awesome and it’s so wonderful that I definitely think it should be used more, especially because of how accessible it is [00:20:00] oftentimes more accessible than finding a teacher.

[00:20:03] Kaitlin: Yeah, and I’m sure things will just keep changing too, and new cool tools will come out. I mean, now we have like guitar tuners on our phones, things like that. I mean, and that’s been around for a while, so who knows what’s, what’s next. It’s pretty exciting.

[00:20:18] Felicia: I’m excited to see. Yeah.

[00:20:20] Kaitlin: So do you have any other last “Knowledge Bytes” tips, advice for parents or, you know, any students that are getting into music, any music teachers that are listening? Any last pieces of advice you wanna share?

[00:20:39] Felicia: Oh, no so much pressure. I feel that, you know, a lot of times and I say, you know, give it like two or three or four lessons a month and you’ll see some progress.

I feel that a lot of times, especially when you’re first learning something, there’s a lot of. Like, oh man, I should be here by now, or I should be here. There’s no, like progress is not linear. You’re not always going to go [00:21:00] straight through. You’re not always just going to ease through it. There’s gonna be some challenging parts and challenges are what, you know, make us better people just in general from life, but also you’re able to work through it and develop some of those skills that we talked about earlier.

And if you just stick with it and you get over that, Impossible mountain that you’re trying to conquer it. The other side is so awesome and you’re gonna see so much progress and so much room for growth. So if you feel a little frustrated, I would definitely stick with it for just a, a little while longer because there is just this wonderful rainbow and lots of little flowers all over on the other side of the mountain that you’re trying to go over.

[00:21:38] Kaitlin: And lots of music too.

[00:21:40] Felicia: Yes, a lot of music.

[00:21:42] Kaitlin: Music and rainbows. That’s awesome. Well great. Thank you so much for joining me today. This has been an awesome discussion and I’m sure people will find a lot of great tips and value in what you’ve shared today. If anyone wants to find you[00:22:00] whether that be to teach or to, you know, ask questions about teaching or music education, where can they find you?

[00:22:08] Felicia: On Lessonpal they can look me up. My name’s Felicia, so you should be able to find me. I don’t have any social media that you’re able to find me on. So that’s the unfortunate side, but I’m there.

[00:22:20] Kaitlin: People can visit Lessonpal. Well great. Thank you so much and have an awesome rest of your day.

I really appreciate it.

[00:22:27] Felicia: Absolutely. Thank you so much. You have a great day.

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