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Endure and encourage to build the performers of the future

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Keeping kids engaged with music can be a test of endurance for parents.

But Canberra Symphony Orchestra clarinettist Dr Eloise Fisher says parents should make the effort – because it is worth it.

“Never, ever complain about the sound of musical practising,” she says. “It’s incredibly damaging to a child’s progress and self-esteem to hear negative comments about squeaky instrument sounds or to have the door slammed shut when they start practising.”

The accomplished musician returned from overseas late last year to take up a performing and teaching role with the Canberra Symphony Orchestra (CSO). She says when it comes to supporting kids with their music study, parents need to endure – and encourage.

“I’ve had so many adult students come to me wanting to pick up their instrument again. All of them say the same thing – I wish my parents hadn’t let me quit so easily.”

Dr Fisher developed her passion for music through her primary school education in Canberra.

That led to studies at ANU, and then abroad – postgraduate degrees at the CNR de Versailles in France and the Juilliard School in New York – where she earned her doctorate. She’s now brought those years of experience home.

As well as performing and teaching with the CSO, she is also the manager of its outreach and community programs.

“The CSO was the orchestra I grew up going to see,” she says. “Although I’ve played for orchestras all over the world, playing with the CSO is special – it’s playing for my home team!”

Through its outreach programs, the orchestra takes musicians and performances to people who can’t attend a concert in person – including people with chronic illness, children with special needs and people living in aged care.

Those efforts now extend to the new Music in MY School program. It is being rolled out in selected ACT schools this year with the support of lead partners Ginninderry and Riverview Developments.

“For teachers with little or no musical training, the program is a way to incorporate music as a companion in the classroom,” Dr Fisher says. “It can give kids the opportunity to engage with music every day in an accessible and interactive way.”

Dr Fisher says academic and scientific studies show that musical education has a myriad of benefits for students.

“Children who undertake musical learning reap improvements in academic, social, physiological and emotional spheres,” she says. “Apart from that, it’s fun!”

And, for parents who are struggling to support their kids to learn an instrument – Dr Fisher suggests they pick up an instrument themselves.

“It’s never too late to learn,” she says. “Playing music together is a beautiful thing to share with your family.”

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