Valentine Gift and Date Ideas + Learning an Instrument | Ep. 145

Valentine Gift and Date Ideas + Learning an Instrument | Ep. 145

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The Benefits of Learning to Play an Instrument

In a world filled with screens and digital distractions, encouraging your teen to pick up a musical instrument might seem like a quaint suggestion.

However, the benefits of learning to play an instrument extend far beyond the realms of entertainment. From fostering discipline to enhancing cognitive abilities, the journey of learning an instrument is a symphony of personal and intellectual development. 

Let’s start with the advantages of embracing music education, discuss some easy instruments to start with, and highlight the importance of delving into the world of music theory.

Why Music Benefits Every Teen

  1. Cognitive Development
    Playing an instrument engages various regions of the brain simultaneously, enhancing cognitive abilities such as memory, attention, and problem-solving skills. Research has shown that musical training can have a positive impact on academic performance, particularly in subjects like mathematics and language.

  2. Discipline and Time Management
    Learning an instrument requires consistent practice and dedication. As teens commit to regular practice sessions, they develop discipline and time management skills. This commitment can translate into improved academic performance and a strong work ethic that will benefit them in various aspects of life.
  3. Emotional Expression and Stress Relief
    Music is a powerful form of emotional expression. Learning to play an instrument provides a healthy outlet for teens to express their feelings and cope with stress. Playing music can be a therapeutic and cathartic experience, allowing teens to navigate the complexities of adolescence with greater emotional intelligence.
  4. Social Skills
    Joining a school band or participating in musical ensembles introduces teens to teamwork and collaboration. Playing in a group setting fosters a sense of community and helps teens develop valuable social skills such as communication, cooperation, and empathy.

Try these instruments for great start.

Ukulele
The ukulele is a fantastic choice for beginners due to its small size, simplicity, and the ease with which basic chords can be learned. It’s a great introduction to string instruments and provides a fun way to start making music.

Keyboard/Piano
The piano is another beginner-friendly instrument. Its layout is logical, making it easier for beginners to grasp musical concepts. Many popular songs have simple piano arrangements, making it an enjoyable instrument to learn.

Guitar
While the guitar may seem challenging at first, it’s a versatile instrument that can be learned gradually. Starting with basic chords and simple songs allows teens to build confidence and progress at their own pace.

The Benefits of Learning Music Theory:

Understanding music theory enhances the overall learning experience and provides a solid foundation for musical proficiency. Here’s why music theory is essential:

  • Improves Musical Fluency: Knowing music theory enables teens to read sheet music, understand musical symbols, and communicate effectively with other musicians. This fluency accelerates their learning and opens up a broader range of musical opportunities.

  • Encourages Creativity: Music theory is not about rigid rules but rather a set of guidelines that empower teens to experiment and create their own music. It unlocks the door to creativity, allowing them to compose and arrange their pieces.
  • Facilitates Mastery of the Instrument: A strong grasp of music theory enables teens to understand the underlying principles of their chosen instrument. This knowledge contributes to mastery, allowing them to go beyond rote learning and truly connect with the music they play.

Learning to play an instrument is a transformative journey that goes beyond the simple act of making music. It nurtures discipline, enhances cognitive abilities, fosters emotional expression, and develops social skills. Starting with easy instruments like the ukulele, keyboard/piano, or guitar can make the initial learning phase enjoyable and accessible. Additionally, delving into music theory provides a deeper understanding of the art form, unlocking a world of creative possibilities.

As a parent or teen coach, you can get excited when your teen embarks on a dream of becoming a rock star. It may seem like just a fun pastime, but the intellectual and social benefits go well beyond child’s play!

If you’re interested in learning more…

Books:

“The Talent Code: Greatness Isn’t Born. It’s Grown. Here’s How.” by Daniel Coyle

“Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain” by Oliver Sacks

“The Practice of Practice: How to Boost Your Music Skills” by Jonathan Harnum

“This Is Your Brain on Music: The Science of a Human Obsession” by Daniel J. Levitin

Websites and Articles:

American Psychological Association (APA): Music Students Score Better in Math, Science, English Than Nonmusical Peers

Psychology Today: Musical Training Optimizes Brain Function

Psychology Today: Music and the Brain

Online Learning Platforms:

Yousician – An interactive platform for learning various instruments, including guitar, piano, and ukulele.

Coursera – Fundamentals of Music Theory – A comprehensive online course for beginners interested in music theory.

Instrument-Specific Resources:

Ukulele Underground – Offers tutorials and resources for ukulele players of all levels.

JustinGuitar – A popular website for learning guitar with beginner-friendly lessons.

Piano Marvel – An online platform for learning piano with interactive lessons and practice tools.

Also, remember to explore local music schools, community centers, and private music teachers for personalized guidance and additional resources.

Dating Advice for Teens:

Navigating teen relationships is not easy. Balancing school, family, friends, and extracurriculars is hard enough! These tips are great for encouraging teens who want to date while also keeping it fun and age-appropriate.

 

  • Be intentional. Simply being thoughtful and intentional can go a long way to show you care! Plan dates and gifts ahead of time. Use your time together to encourage and uplift.
  • Focus on having fun. Teenage relationships should be FUN! If they are causing stress or full of fighting and tears, it might be time to move on.
  • Set expectations early. Talk about boundaries and how much time you want to spend together at the beginning. It is helpful when both people come into the relationship on the same page.
  • Know where you are in your relationship. Don’t rush things or compare your relationship to others. It is okay to take your time and enjoy the relationship for what it is!

Also in this episode:

  • Valentine’s Day gifts, dates, and advice for parents of teens.

In this episode, we mentioned or used the following resources.

Have a question?

If you have a question about something you heard or just want to give us some feedback, please leave us a comment below.  We would love to hear from you!

About Us

Karlie Duke

Karlie Duke

Director of Communications

Tobin Hodges

Tobin Hodges

Program Director

Caleb Hatchett

Caleb Hatchett

Podcast Host

Follow Us

More Resources You Might Like

Episode 41: Dating at School & Valentine's Day
Teen Love & Snapchat
Episode 26: Dating & Suicide Terms

Lapse + Meta Lawsuit + Teacher Burnout + Advent | Ep. 136

Lapse + Meta Lawsuit + Teacher Burnout + Advent | Ep. 136

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How to Help Tired Teachers with Mid-Year Burnout

As winter break approaches, teachers, parents, and students all struggle to finish the semester strong. Kids are crazy. Tired teachers struggle to get all the grades in and contain classrooms of tired, excitable students. It gets dark earlier. How can everyone survive this time of year?

Here are just a few ways parents can help tired teachers.

Open Communication

Maintain open and respectful communication with teachers. Establishing a positive relationship allows for discussing concerns or challenges, fostering a supportive environment for both parties.

Respect Boundaries

Understand and respect teachers’ time and boundaries. Avoid expecting immediate responses after school hours and be mindful of their workload.

Support Classroom Policies

Familiarize yourself with classroom policies and support teachers in implementing them. Consistency between home and school environments can ease teachers’ workload and create a conducive learning atmosphere.

Volunteering and Assistance

Offer to volunteer or assist in classroom activities, field trips, or projects. Your involvement can alleviate some of the workload and demonstrate support for the teacher.

Encourage Positive Behavior

Reinforce positive behavior and values taught in the classroom at home. This alignment helps create a consistent and supportive environment for learning.

Regular Updates

Stay informed about your child’s progress and any updates from the school. Respond promptly to communications from teachers to facilitate a smoother interaction and support their efforts.

Appreciation and Recognition

Express gratitude and appreciation for the work teachers do. A simple thank-you note or gesture can go a long way in boosting their morale and motivation.

Respectful Disagreements

In case of disagreements or concerns, address them respectfully and directly with the teacher. Open dialogue and collaboration can lead to effective resolutions.

Parent-Teacher Associations (PTAs)

Participate actively in PTAs or school committees. Contributing to the school community and initiatives can indirectly support teachers by improving overall school dynamics.

Understanding Challenges

Recognize the challenges teachers face, such as managing diverse student needs or adapting to changing educational standards. Having empathy for these challenges can help create a more supportive environment.

Be sure to listen to the full episode for Tobin’s tips on tone and other ways to help everyone make it to winter break!

Also in this episode:

  • The Lapse app, 3rd in the App Store a couple of weeks ago, has now outpaced TikTok and Google. The app mimics a disposable camera that snaps pictures and then has a wait period (as the film “develops”) before you can view them.
  • States across the US have filed a lawsuit against Meta saying that Meta — which owns Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, and Messenger — violated consumer protection laws by unfairly ensnaring children and deceiving users about the safety of its platforms. It accuses Meta of having profoundly altered the psychological and social realities of a generation of young Americans.
  • Not everyone participates in Christmas, but there are many winter holidays and traditions to celebrate.

In this episode, we mentioned or used the following resources about the Lapse app, social media lawsuits, and winter holiday traditions.

Have a question?

If you have a question about something you heard or just want to give us some feedback, please leave us a comment below.  We would love to hear from you!

About Us

Karlie Duke

Karlie Duke

Director of Communications

Tobin Hodges

Tobin Hodges

Program Director

Caleb Hatchett

Caleb Hatchett

Podcast Host

Follow Us

More Resources You Might Like

Taking the Stress out of Holiday Traditions
Episode 36: Christmas Traditions
2023 Teen Christmas Gift Guide

De-stressing Traditions (And Why They Matter)

De-stressing Traditions (And Why They Matter)

A few years ago I found some gingerbread houses on sale at Target and we put them together. My oldest son kept eating the weird candy dots in the box instead of decorating and the cookie itself was not at all delicious at all. Who wants to eat cookies everyone has touched anyway?

We didn’t ever finish, and eventually, I threw the whole thing away. The eco-minimalist in me cringed that we were destroying the environment and wasting food.

My son loved it.

The next year it was ALDI I think.

Same story.

Grubby fingers, gross candy. Short-lived and not delicious.

Then in 2020, I didn’t go into stores, and so I didn’t have a kit. I started scrummaging for how to make the gingerbread houses. As I stared into my pantry under the spell of Great British Bakeoff, gingerbread recipe pulled up on my phone, trying to decide if it was worth it… I spotted my kids’ favorite snack.

Graham crackers.

And it dawned on me that I’d been making the whole thing far more complicated than it really had to be.

Of course, I did what any modern adult would do.
I googled it.

Friends, I found this video, and the deal was done. We even used leftover Halloween candy and pretzels we had in the house to decorate. (Check this construction tip out if you plan on having graham cracker architecture competitions)

Then everyone ate their house for breakfast the next day and a new tradition was born, like a phoenix out of the ash of 2020.

We did the whole thing again on repeat for the rest of the season.

It’s a silly story, but creating traditions can sometimes start out that way, can’t it? A little messy, a little thrown together, but a whole lotta fun.

In fact, the importance of a tradition lies in the shared meaning and value we give it.

We’ve got a great podcast lineup this fall, full of traditions that are fun for teens, too.

But why do traditions matter?

Why are we drawn to the idea of traditions? What do we gain from them and how can we maximize the benefits for our kids?

I felt like something about the chaos and the unknown of the pandemic itself made creating and keeping traditions more important than ever.

And it made perfect sense. Just like routines create a sense of calm and secureness, traditions create continuity and identity in a family, or in a group of friends for that matter.

But traditions are more than routine because they carry with them a deeper meaning. They strengthen bonds and pass on a sense of belonging.

When you look back on your childhood, traditions are, at their very best, the collection of moments that made your house a home. They are the moments that describe what’s important to your family, your school, your team, your group of friends.

Sometimes, they even become a right of passage into adulthood as you become responsible for carrying on the tradition- whether it’s lighting the shamash, carving the turkey or putting the star on top of the tree.

So what makes a good tradition?

  • It’s easy to repeat year after year.
    Think time and money.
  • Everyone looks forward to it.
    Because life’s too short!
  • It relates to your family values.
    Kids with a strong sense of identity are more confident and less likely to participate in risky behavior. This is a great opportunity to build on your family identity.

I saw a survey recently that said that 67% of parents say they feel the need to produce the perfect holiday. Talker Research published an article in November 2021 saying that 4 out of 5 parents feel pressured to get their kids the perfect gift. That’s a lot of holiday stress!

No matter what holiday you celebrate, I think we can all agree that it should be special, meaningful, and fun for everyone- parents included. Believe me when I tell you I am preaching to myself here. The best-laid plans are worthless if all you are is stressed.

So take a deep breath and let go of all the things you feel like you have to do to make the holidays perfect. Then cling to the things that bring you and your family joy.

It could even be a fun dinner conversation to ask what everyone remembers most fondly about past holidays and go from there! It doesn’t have to be fancy. Or perfect. It just has to be yours.

And if you’re worried about everything being perfect, the University of Nevada did a little research on gift wrapping in 2019. Researchers found that poorly wrapped gifts were better received than well-wrapped gifts!

Sometimes when things aren’t perfect, we actually appreciate them more for what they are, instead of measuring them against our false expectations of what we think they should be.

Think of your traditions as a gift from one generation to the next. They don’t have to be fancy. They don’t have to be many. In fact, it might even be better if they aren’t.

 

P.S. If you’re looking for easy, fun tradition ideas, check out episode 36 of the Teen Life Podcast or this list from AHAParenting.com or this one from VeryWellFamily.com.

Kelly Fann

Kelly Fann

Digital Media Manager

Kelly has a desire to empower young people to grow into the best version of themselves. Using her background in branding and word-smithing, she is a master at highlighting resources that help teens learn skills that will enable them to grow and to adapt, to enjoy life and to be better citizens. Kelly has a MA in Linguistics from North Texas University.

Thanksgiving Foods + Traditions + The Importance of Families Eating Together | Ep. 134

Thanksgiving Foods + Traditions + The Importance of Families Eating Together | Ep. 134

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The Transformative Power of Families Eating Together

In the hustle and bustle of modern life, where screens dominate our attention and schedules overflow with commitments, the simple act of having family meals often takes a backseat. Yet, research spanning over two decades from the Harvard Graduate School has unveiled a powerful truth: dedicating a few minutes each day to disconnect from screens and genuinely connect over food can remarkably enhance the physical and mental well-being of every family member involved.

Family meals make you healthier.

Encouraging healthier eating habits stands as one of the primary benefits derived from regular family meals. Studies have consistently shown that dining together fosters better dietary choices, particularly among adolescents. When families gather around the table, there’s a natural inclination toward more nutritious options, leading to a healthier overall diet.

However, the impact extends far beyond just the food on the plate. Regular family meals have emerged as a formidable shield against various mental health disorders that often plague adolescents. These dinners serve as a buffer, significantly reducing the likelihood of issues related to eating disorders, substance and alcohol use, violent behavior, depression, and even suicidal thoughts among young family members.

Family meals improve social/emotional skills.

The magic of these gatherings lies in their ability to bolster self-esteem and refine communication skills. The profound sense of connection during these moments, devoid of distractions, allows every member to feel heard and understood. It’s in these seemingly ordinary moments that bonds are strengthened, confidence is nurtured, and kids learn the art of respectful communication.

It doesn’t require grand gestures or elaborate planning. The key is consistency and authenticity.

3 Steps for Successful Family Meals

Set the Scene

Opt for a traditional family dining setup around a table. Steer clear of the allure of the television; instead, focus on each other’s company.

Stop Scrolling

Put away the phones and other gadgets. Let the conversation be the sole source of entertainment and connection.

Cultivate Traditions

Whether it’s instituting ‘Taco Tuesdays,’ establishing a set of weekly questions, or engaging in a communal game, creating traditions infuses these gatherings with a sense of anticipation and belonging.

Families can savor the benefits of shared meals and unlock the potential for profound transformation. It’s not important how fancy the meal is, but how deep the connections formed and nourished at the table.

In the chaos of everyday life, the act of gathering for family meals emerges as a potent elixir for holistic well-being. It’s a time to savor not just the flavors on the plate but the bonds that grow stronger with every shared moment. So, let’s carve out those precious minutes, turn off the screens, and build stronger connections, one meal at a time.

Also in this episode:

  • Thanksgiving traditions that even teens will love.
  • Thanksgiving foods for the whole family.

In this episode, we mentioned or used the following resources about the importance of family meals.

Have a question?

If you have a question about something you heard or just want to give us some feedback, please leave us a comment below.  We would love to hear from you!

About Us

Karlie Duke

Karlie Duke

Director of Communications

Tobin Hodges

Tobin Hodges

Program Director

Caleb Hatchett

Caleb Hatchett

Podcast Host

Follow Us

More Resources You Might Like

Episode 34: ADHD & Thanksgiving
picture of gingerbread house and title: De-Stressing Traditions and why they matter
Christmas Activities & New Movies

Ep. 36: Christmas Traditions

Ep. 36: Christmas Traditions

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Summary:
What are your favorite Christmas traditions? Especially during the holidays, family traditions come to the forefront and every family is different. In episode 36, Chris and Karlie talk common Christmas traditions like matching pjs, movies to watch, and funny fails. Listen for fun ways to celebrate the holidays and get new ideas on how to make the most of your time together.

Have a question? If you have a question about something you heard or just want to give us some feedback, please leave us a comment below.  We would love to hear from you!
About Us:
Chris Robey

Chris Robey

CEO

Chris has worked with teens from a variety of backgrounds for over a decade. He has a desire to help teenagers make good choices while also giving their families tools to communicate more effectively as choices are made.
Karlie Duke

Karlie Duke

Director of Communications

Karlie was in one of Teen Life’s original support groups and now is passionate about encouraging students to live better stories. She has gained experience working with teenagers through work, volunteer, and personal opportunities.

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