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.

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.

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.

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…


“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

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A Teenage Love Story

A Teenage Love Story

The importance of talking about true love with teenagers

Think about your favorite love stories…are they real? From movie scenes? Are they written by your favorite author?

Teenage love stories are often awkwardly, impossibly romantic. The kind you find in sitcoms, books and blockbuster movies. Think awkward teen falling in love with a vampire who is 100 years older than her. Best friends finally realizing they love each other and living happily ever after. Imagine Inside Out’s picture of an imaginary boyfriend claiming, “I would die for Riley.”

In the midst of awkward imperfection comes perfect romance. We don’t watch movies or read books that end with a horrible breakup and no happy conclusion. We enjoy love stories that end with hope for a better future and hope that we could also one day find a love like that – a love that reads a notebook full of their love story every day, the kind of love that changes the beast into a man, a love that can even survive carbon-freezing in a galaxy far, far away.

But why don’t we put the same emphasis on the kind of love that is hard and real? Sometimes love hurts, it disappoints, it is jealous, it is almost always messy. When we have a view of love that is only good and sweet and always smells good, it is easy to walk away when it gets hard. Why would we settle for a love that doesn’t always bring joy? There must be something wrong with this person if I don’t always find them cute and charming like in the movies…

We do a disservice to teenagers when we encourage them to settle on surface-level, easy love. Because that’s what it is!

True love, faithful love is the kind of love that sticks it out when it isn’t easy. The kind of love you really want will be hard and difficult, but it is so worth it! That is what I want teenagers to hear.

Don’t settle for love that only comes around when your makeup is done or your shirt is clean – fall in love with the person who still kisses you when you have morning breath and a hole in your shirt. Don’t look for a love that completes your world – find someone who will make you better for the world.

Click or tap on the images below to read an excerpt from the journal of a High School girl (taken with permission). In this entry to God, she is realizing that hope, joy and purpose are not found in her boyfriend. He isn’t perfect but neither is she. I love her vulnerability and the way that she acknowledges the difficulty of finding a love that matters – in this case, a love with her Savior, Jesus Christ.

Teenage Girl Diary Entry about Love
A Teenage Girl's Diary Entry Page 2
A Teenage Girl's Diary Entry on Love
I’ve ended up changing myself to fit his lifestyle to fit his lifestyle when all along I’ve been trying to change his lifestyle. If anything I’m doing more harm than good.
Teen in Love

So what do we do with this? There is pain, confusion and uncertainty with all love, but especially when it comes to teenage love. Our teenagers are trying to figure out school, family, friends, extracurricular activities, and then you throw hormones into the mix and everything gets jumbled!

From this letter, I hope you see the importance of talking to teens about love, expectations and balancing all the exciting things (or distractions) that come with being a teen. Use the television shows, movies and books that they love to talk about the reality of love and where they should find their value. Don’t hide your own relationships from them, but model healthy, hard, real love (whether that is with a spouse, friend, or family member).

As Valentine’s Day quickly approaches, I hope you will be extra sensitive to the vulnerabilities and temptations that can come with teenage love. They need you to show them what real love looks like – don’t miss the opportunity!


We do a disservice to teenagers when we encourage them to settle on surface-level, easy love. Because that’s what it is!

Karlie Duke

Karlie Duke

Director of Communications

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