Parents often come up to me after a concert and ask what they should do to get their child interested in music. When should you start lessons? What instrument is best?
There are many approaches to getting children interested in a hobby or art or sport. Regardless of the approach I think one essential element is this: Whatever you want your kid to do or learn, leave it lying around the house.
At our house, there were always musical instruments lying around. My good ones I tried to put away, so I wouldn't find peanut butter on the guitar strings, but I figured that we would donate some relatively inexpensive but adequate instruments to the life of the house. There were guitars there they could strum on. Pianos they could plink on (and unfortunately, in an unmonitored moment, carve their name into). Ukuleles appeared, and eventually, despite my hesitation, an old drum set showed up in the basement.
(Warning: No amount of insulation protects you from the pounding of the snare drum.)
Some of the instruments were never used. Some of them were picked up, then put down and not picked up again. Some of them were broken. This is part of the cost of learning.
It's not just instruments, either. If you want your kid to read, leaving piles of books around is another good strategy.
Or computers. Or broken clocks to take apart.Do not leave clothes lying around.
That is a bad message. My wife reminds me of this. "It's your fault they're like that," she suggests. Maybe she's right. I suggested it was an educational approach. She wasn't impressed.
But by leaving tools around the house that will help them grow, you send the message - "These things are part of life - tools for you to use". And the underlying truth for parents is "Children honor what is honored in their environment."
Of course, there's something else - using those things yourself reinforces their value. Teaching by example is better than nagging. (Okay, nagging is basic to all parenting, but..) You don't have to be professional at anything. They won't remember if you were Yoyo Ma or Eric Clapton or Norah Roberts (don't you wish?). They'll remember that you sang, or played, or wrote, or tinkered. And they'll do it too.
Or course, there is the possibility that they will end up as musicians or writers. Eek.
Maybe you should leave plumbing equipment around the house. The world always needs plumbers.