Every Wednesday, I’ll post about multiple intelligences so we can better understand children and why they do what they do.

If children struggle academically they’re sometimes offered extra help at school. Parents may pay for special testing and then tutoring designed to increase achievement.

What about music? “Tutoring” isn’t the right thing to think about. Lessons might be.

When my parents were alive, they were sometimes asked what they did to cause both my brother and me to “turn out so well.” People may have pointed out that both Dave and I have earned Ph.Ds, were devoted to God, involved in church, healthy, and generally doing well. My mom and dad hemmed and hawed and never really knew what to say.

One of the beautiful things is that my parents were genuinely interested in what Dave and I did. They enjoyed what we pursued, had confidence in us, and communicated that confidence. Dave and I knew we could accomplish just about anything!

If you want to make a real difference, do what my parents did. Support both your children’s practices and performances. That’s how we knew their interest was real.

Our parents didn’t just attend our band and orchestra concerts and my dance recitals, clapping and taking pictures. They also made sure our grandparents and great aunts knew about our concerts so they could attend, too. I remember every performance feeling like a celebration.

But, our parents did more than that. They made sure Dave and I were ready for our concerts. That’s a key. We could enter the events with confidence. We felt worthy of being celebrated.

Our parents paid for and took us to private lessons. They sacrificed and provided for us. I can only imagine how much money they spent and how much time over the years was devoted to our lessons. Dave on the piano and then trumpet; me on the piano and then viola. To encourage us to practice, my mom often sat in the living room with us. She provided helpful feedback.

They cared about our efforts that resulted in our performances. I believe this is essential. I recommend you invest in the process that leads your children to the product you hope they achieve.

Even without private lessons, you can demonstrate you care by encouraging children to practice their band or orchestra part while you listen. Even if you aren’t very music smart and you’re not sure how much help you can provide, you can inspire your children to strive for excellence. You can affirm their character qualities of perseverance, humility, patience, teachability, and others.

I’ll state it again: invest in the process that leads your children to the product you hope they achieve.

(Make sure to return next Wednesday when I’ll demonstrate this philosophy with art and other topics.)