A Few Quick Tips From an “Old” Music Teacher
As we say in other posts, your children’s success with music lessons is as dependent on you as it is on them. Please allow us to offer some of the tips we’ve learned over the years.
1. No joke, learning music really is important for your child’s brain and development.
Learning music helps with reading and math skills. It builds confidence, teaches responsibility and care for an instrument, teaches consistency, creativity, goal setting and so, so, so much more. And face it, no adult has ever said they wished they had stuck with playing soccer longer. Which leads me to number two…
2. If your child is going to take music lessons “seasonally” or only a few months at a time, please don’t. Wait until you can commit at least one year.
It’s super hard to gain momentum and progress when you take sporadically, and that’s where kids become disheartened and tell their parents they “don’t like taking music”. Please just wait until you have some time to commit versus becoming another music lesson casualty. You wouldn’t expect to get good at golf or tennis playing regularly for a few months, and then not again for six months, right?
3. Choose the right instrument.
Whatever instrument turns your kid on, then that’s the one to start with. It’s ok for them to try a few before deciding on one! It’s important for your child to like their instrument of choice and their teacher. Which leads to number four:
4. Make sure you have the right teacher.
We all have fond memories of our favorite teachers, and our staff and teachers know how important it is to get this right and have the same goal in mind. If your children are not with the right teacher, you’ll know it, and no worries, we can change teachers until everyone is happy. We all want the student to have success on their musical journey!
5. Don’t put your kid in the basement to practice.
We get it, the practicing is not going to be great for a while, but make sure their music area is set up where you can give a few “atta girl!” or “atta boys!” every once in a while. And P.S., the basement is scary to practice down there by yourself. Put the piano near the family’s favorite areas, but not right in the middle of the chaos.
6. Your kid is not going to practice as much as you think they should, or sometimes hardly at all. It’s ok, don’t pressure, just do as the song says and ‘Let It Go’.
Progress is measured in so many different ways, and the number of minutes that they are engaged with their instrument is not always a conducive measuring stick. We, as teachers, will work very hard to find pieces that they will love to play, and encourage them to play those pieces often. That may be 5 minutes, or it could be 30, and playing time will grow as they do as musicians. Children do not usually begin to play at home on their own until their middle school / teenage years, so please don’t worry. Sit and listen to them play and complement any effort.
7. Encourage performance. Grandparents eat that up.
Students say they don’t want to, but we know once they perform at recital and get a trophy for the courage it took, well, they want to do it again. Who doesn’t want a little recognition? We encourage participation at our open mic nights, recitals, and any outside performances like at assisted living homes, festivals and anywhere else fun that has a loving, non-judgmental audience. Builds self confidence by leaps and bounds in all areas of life. Score!
8. Your kid is going to enjoy taking lessons until they don’t. Please, please do not let them quit then as they are just about to break through to the next level.
Ask any teacher, and the truth is the moment kids want to quit is usually about the time that with a little extra working through the difficulty, they make amazing progress. The “wall” can come anywhere from 6 months to 1 year, but please, help them stick through it. It will pay off – it just takes a minute to learn a new language.
9. Hard work beats natural talent every time, and that’s a great life hack to know.
Sort of a spin-off on the tortoise and the hare. Sure, there are some folks who can pick up an instrument and sound decent immediately. They are naturally talented, but they will only go so far if they do not have proper training. On the other hand, for students who are not as musically inclined music can still be successful if they work hard to learn each musical challenge they encounter.
With the right teacher, learning to play a musical instrument is accessible to everyone. When practiced and studied correctly, learning to play a musical instrument is something ALL students (children or adults) can find success in.
Read my tips on how you can prepare for that inevitable moment they say they’re ready to quit. And please leave us a comment with your questions or thoughts!
Cecilia Rowe is the director of Courtnay and Rowe and The Music Studio at Vinings, and has over 25 years in music education as an instructor and a local business owner.