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Getting the Most Out of Music Lessons

October 31, 2014
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Whether you are new to music lessons or an old timer looking for ways to get more out of your current lessons, incorporating a few of these ideas will make your experience more rewarding and joyful.

Starting at the Right Age – How Young is Too Young?

Adults may start any instrument at any time. Your enjoyment and success is based on the amount of time you commit to practicing.

For children, 3 factors affect the best time to start:

  • Peak Developmental Times – general to all children
  • Mental/Emotional Maturity – specific to child
  • Physical Maturity – specific to child

PEAK DEVELOPMENTAL TIMES

A child’s musical aptitude increases between birth and 9 years if exposed to quality stimuli, according to the past 30 yrs of U.S. music education research. The period between birth and 5 years is the most influential time. Therefore, it’s best to start as young as possible with a quality preschool music program.

MENTAL/EMOTIONAL MATURITY

A child’s mental and emotional maturity determines the best time to start private or group instrumental lessons. A child is usually ready when she:

  • Demonstrates the ability to focus for a 25-30 min period while participating in a variety of related activities
  • Accepts instruction
  • Follows directions

Most children are ready to enter private or group instrumental instruction after graduating from Preschool Music Classes. Children without preschool music instruction generally start between the ages of 5-9, though some may start as young as 3 with the help of a parent.

PHYSICAL MATURITY

A child’s physical maturity determines the best time to start a specific instrument. Many instruments require a physical skill that is generally age related. For the best age consult with our Music Director.

Practice

Once the newness of lessons wears off and the dream of creating beautiful music is replaced by the realization that it takes hard work, practicing can be a challenge! Here are some ideas that may help.

MAKE IT A HABIT

Decide to treat practice like brushing your teeth. Do it as part of the daily routine.

  • Pick a consistent practice time based on your energy levels, availability of support people, and lack of distractions. Usually earlier is better.
  • Make a habit of following your teacher’s assignment then ending with something fun of your choice.

PRACTICE SMART

  • Length – Practice no longer than you can maintain focus. For young children, several short periods per day is best.
  • Goals/Repetitions – Focus on repetitions and goals such as: Play the right hand 5 times softly. This saves a lot of time and builds accurate muscle memory. It is just as easy to practice well as it is poorly.
  • Support People – Students progress faster when they have an enthusiastic, sensitive coach and fan club. An at-home coach helps the student achieve practice goals and the fan club makes practice all worthwhile by listening admiringly and asking the student to play often.

RECORD YOURSELF

Record yourself often and listen to see if your playing matched your intention. A picture tells a thousand words…so does a recording.

Make It Fun

Add a sprinkling of fun and you have the key to a happy practice session.

GAMES

A few that have been successful for us are: Animal March, Copy Cat, Freddy the Frog, and Card Memory Game.

REWARDS

Everyone likes to be appreciated for their hard work. A reward achieves two things:

  • Recognizes a student’s past efforts
  • Encourages them to reach greater heights

Success breeds success and as a student progresses, intrinsic motivation takes over. Every good teaching program should make use of Motivational Reward Programs. CSM has several that reward students as they achieve short term, mid-length and long-term practice and performance goals.

Choose a Professional Environment

Music learning is just not a matter of having a qualified teacher, but also of having an environment that is conducive to music education.

100% FOCUS ON MUSIC EDUCATION

In a professional environment, the facilities have been designed, the instruments maintained, and the teachers prepared to give the student an optimum educational experience. Distractions such as TV, pets, phones, siblings and visitors are not an issue. In only 30-60 min per week, a professional music school can produce better results because 100% of the focus is on music.

PEER MOTIVATION

Students in a professional school environment are also motivated by hearing peers who are at different levels and are playing a variety of musical instruments.

PROFESSIONAL TEACHERS

In a music school, lessons are not just a hobby or sideline for the teacher, but a career that is taken very seriously. Learn about our teachers.

Develop Role Models

Role models help

  • Create a vision of what’s possible
  • Motivate a student to achieve it
  • Show how to achieve it
  • Provide a support staff for the student

The teacher is the first role model for most students, so it is important that teachers perform for students regularly at school Concerts and Recitals. Students can develop additional role models by listening to music and attending concerts.

Participate in other Fun Music-Related Classes

Studio Classes in subjects such as: music theory/composition, history, and performance are an essential supplement to a student’s private or group instrumental lesson. Participating in these classes:

  • Helps students get the most out of their private or group lessons because they begin to understand the pieces their playing in many different ways.
  • Helps them become fluent in music, developing the abilities to read, write, and perform music, just like they read, write and speak language.
  • Provides the students an opportunity to be enriched by other expert teachers.
  • Assists students in discovering and developing additional talents and interests.

We hope you’ve enjoyed these tips and will consider incorporating 1 or 2 into your life. We, at Grace Music School, feel privileged to have had the opportunity to study music early in our lives and to continue with it in our professions as music educators, performers, composers and researchers. We hope that these ideas will help you to also find great pleasure and enrichment through your musical studies.

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