5 WAYS TO GET THE MOST OUT OF MUSIC LESSONS
These guidelines will help you have a successful, rewarding experience learning your instrument. These are just some practical tips that we have discovered over the years.
1. HOW YOUNG IS TOO YOUNG?
- STARTING AT THE RIGHT AGE
For children, starting at the right age is a key element to the success of their lessons.
At our school 3 years old is the youngest age that we start children in private piano lessons.
Guitar - Acoustic, Electric and Bass
8 years old is the earliest we recommend for guitar lessons. Guitar playing requires a fair amount of pressure on the fingertips from pressing on the strings. Children under 8 generally have small hands and may find playing uncomfortable.
7 years old is recommended as the youngest age for private vocal lessons. Due to the physical nature of voice lessons (proper breathing techniques, development of the vocal chords and lung capacity), the younger body is generally not yet ready for the rigors of vocal technique.
Depending on the student, 3 years old is fine to start drum lessons. Learning to read rhythms at an early age can help in learning to read music for other instruments.
2. INSIST ON PRIVATE LESSONS WHEN LEARNING A SPECIFIC INSTRUMENT
When learning to play an instrument, private lessons are the best way to go. In group lessons, the instructor’s time is divided by the number of students in the class. In private lessons, each student can learn at his or her own pace. In group lessons, if one student misses a class, it slows the whole class down. In private lessons the teacher can help the student develop his strengths and correct bad habits. The teacher can answer questions that the student has and make sure that the student really understands what he or she is learning.
3. TAKE LESSONS IN A PROFESSIONAL TEACHING ENVIRONMENT
Learning music is not just a matter of having a qualified teacher, but also having an environment that is focused on music education. In a professional school environment a student cannot be distracted by TV, pets, ringing phones, siblings or anything else. With only 1/2 to one hour of lesson time per week, a professional school environment can produce better results since the only focus at that time is learning music. In a school, the lessons are not just a hobby or sideline for the teacher but a responsibility which is taken very seriously.
4. MAKE PRACTICING EASIER
As with anything, improving in music takes practice. One of the main problems with music lessons is the drudgery of practicing and the fight between parents and students to practice every day. Here are some ways to make practicing easier:
Set the same time every day to practice so it becomes part of a routine or habit. This works particularly well for children. Generally the earlier in the day the practicing can occur, the less reminding is required by parents to get the child to practice.
We use this method quite often when setting practice schedules for beginners. For a young child 20 or 30 minutes seems like an eternity. Instead of setting a time frame, we use repetition. For example, practice this piece 4 times every day, and this scale 5 times a day. The child then does not pay attention to the amount of time they are practicing their instrument, but knows if they are on repetition number 3 they are almost finished.
This works very well for children. Parents can encourage children to practice by granting them occasional rewards for successful practicing. Sometimes you can reward young children with stars and stickers. Verbal praise goes a long way. If you miss a day of practice don’t give up.
5. HAVE FUN!!
Music should be something that you enjoy for a lifetime. So, try not to put unrealistic expectations on yourself or your children to learn too quickly. Everyone learns at a different pace and the key is to be able to enjoy the journey.