5 Tips to a Successful Music Class
Before you or your child begins the first music lesson, you should know how to have the best experience possible and learn the most from every lesson. Our knowledgeable staff has created a few simple, easy-to-follow guidelines that will help you or your child have a meaningful and rewarding experience learning music.
1. Starting at the Right Age
How young is too young to learn a musical instrument? Answer, it depends, because learning music comes from the heart, you can begin at almost any age. Occasionally, however, starting a child too young can lead to frustration. For example, some instruments like guitar require greater finger dexterity than piano. So sometimes it is best to wait until the right age so your child has a pleasant, fun experience. Waiting as little as one year can mean that your child will progress much faster and learn far better.
The key to success is knowing the right age to start your child, because that right age is unique for each child. That right age depends on your childs ability, the desire to learn, and the type of instrument they want to play.
Below are some guidelines we recommend to help you determine the right time for your child to begin their music education.
1 – 5 Years Old
If a preschooler has a keen desire and wants to start music, we suggest Kindermusik, Music Garten or a Music Forever, Music Together class. This will give them a good foundation in music basics. Please click on the link for a location nearest you. At this young age, a group setting is generally better because the child can learn music by playing games and interacting with others. Once this foundation is set, the child can enroll in private lessons.
6 Years and Older
At our school, the youngest age for private piano or keyboard lessons is 6-years-old. At this age, children have longer attention spans and can retain the material better.
Guitar – Acoustic, Electric and Bass Lessons
For guitar lessons, 8-years-old is the earliest we recommend. Playing guitar requires a child to apply a fair amount of fingertip pressure on the strings. Children under the age of 8 generally have small hands and may find it uncomfortable to apply the proper pressure.
For bass guitar, we recommend the student be 10-years-old and older.
Due to the physical nature of voice lessons, the youngest age we recommend is 10-years-old for private vocal lessons. Voice lessons require proper breathing techniques, and well developed vocal chords and lung capacity. Younger bodies are generally not yet ready for the rigorous vocal training required.
The starting age for drums varies greatly, depending on the size of the child. The student needs to reach both the pedals and the cymbals. For this reason, we recommend an average age of 8-years old.
Flute, Clarinet Lessons
Most woodwind beginners are 9-years old and older, because they need to have the proper lung capacity to sustain notes.
The violin is the exception to most rules and children can learn this instrument at younger age. We accept violin students beginning at the age of 5-years -old.
As an adult, you can start any instrument at any time. Your success is based on how willing you are to commit to practicing. We teach many beginner students in their 50s, 60s and older who do extremely well.
2. Insist on Private Lessons when Learning a Specific Instrument
Group classes work well for preschool music programs and theory lessons. When learning how to play an instrument, however, private lessons are a far superior way to learn. Private lessons ensure that each student can learn at their own pace with individual attention. The student becomes the teachers primary focus. As such, the instructor can work on the students distinctive strengths and weaknesses, adapting the learning style, pace, and progression to match the students desire and ability.
3. Take Lessons in a Professional Teaching Environment
For music education to be successful, the learning environment needs to be focused and professional. The student should not be distracted by ringing phones, a noisy TV, siblings, or even pets. At the Academy of Music, our professional learning environment offers a focused 30- to 60- minute session where the entire time is centered on teaching you music. This professional setting, combined with the skills of a qualified instructor, creates the ideal learning environment. What is more, students in our school get the chance to hear their peers and this motivates them even more to study harder, practice more often, and move on to the next level. At our music school, lessons are not just a hobby, but a dedicated time to learn, achieve, and have fun.
4. Make Practicing Easier
As with anything, getting better at music takes practice, whether you are learning a new instrument or learning to sing a new song. We understand that finding the time to practice is not always easy. However, taking the time to practice what you learn during your lessons is essential to building skills, seeing progress, and enjoying your music education.
Here are some simple techniques 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 parents will need to do.
This method works wonders with beginners, because for a young child, 20 or 30 minutes seems like an eternity. Instead of setting a set time, use repetition. For example, your child would practice a particular piece of music 4 times every day, or this scale 5 times a day. Using this method, your child will not necessarily pay attention to the amount of time they are practicing their instrument. Instead, the focus will be on the repetition number rather than the clock. Repetition works wonders for intermediate and advanced students as well.
This works well for both children and adults. Parents can encourage children to practice by offering occasional rewards for a successful practice. At our school, we reward young children by placing stars and stickers on their work. Adults, on the other hand, have a reward system that might include purchasing cappuccino once a week, a CD of their favorite artist, or an accessory for their instrument. At any age, the most coveted reward is praise. There is just no substitute for a pat on the back for a job well done.
5. Use Recognized Teaching Materials
Several professional music educators have developed excellent music materials for students of all ages and all backgrounds. For example, in piano there are books for very young beginners, and books for adult students who have never played before. There are books that can start you at any comfort level or stretch you to learn more and do more. Be sure the materials you select are from qualified teachers so institutions and instructors throughout the United States will recognize the materials and be able to continue your lessons where the previous teacher left off. Our teachers only use materials that meet national standards.
Most Importantly . . . HAVE FUN!!
Music is something you want to enjoy for a lifetime. So try not to put unrealistic expectations on yourself or your child to learn too quickly. Everyone learns at a different pace and at different levels. The best way to learn is to have fun along the way.