The guidelines below will help you have a more successful and rewarding experience learning an instrument. These are tips and suggestions that we have put together over the course of our teaching careers that we find help best prepare and enhance students’ time and effort.
1. INSIST ON PRIVATE LESSONS WHEN LEARNING A SPECIFIC INSTRUMENT
In order to maximize learning, and get the most from lessons – private lessons are the superior choice. Group classes work well for preschoolers, in which the goal is musical exposure and to teach beginner level theory. If the students are wishing to learn on a specific instrument and nurture their personal talents, they need the full-attention of the instructor. Private lessons will also allow the student to progress at their individual pace, and not feel pressure from what other students are doing. The lessons at our studio are all taught privately, one-on-one with an instructor.
2. 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 devoted to music education. In a professional studio environment, students won’t be distracted by TV, pets, ringing phones, siblings or anything else. A professional music studio will produce higher results over a period of time since the time spent in the lesson is fully devoted to enhancing students’ knowledge and ability of their instrument. Instructors at studios have more responsibility, and therefore will take the students’ time very seriously.
3. HOW YOUNG IS TOO YOUNG – STARTING AT THE RIGHT AGE
Adults can start any instruments, at any time. Their success is determined by how willing they are to commit to practicing their instruments. Our studio has many beginner students in their 60’s and 70’s, and we want to ensure they have as positive of an experience as our younger students do.
For children, the key is to start them at the right age, and ‘the sooner the better’ is not always the best mentality. In fact, this attitude can sometimes backfire and have negative results. If a child is placed into lessons too early, the child may feel overwhelmed, become frustrated, and ultimately decide to stop or not show any interest. If you are not convinced that your child is ready for lessons, we suggest waiting a year – then when they do start, they will be able to progress more quickly. If your child is older than the ‘suggested’ age for an instrument, no need to worry. The ages below are just a guideline as to when the earliest a student could start.
At our studio, 4-5 years old is the youngest age we suggest to start children in private piano lessons. When children are this age, longer attention spans can be developed that will help retain material with ease.
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 years old generally have smaller and delicate hands, so they may find playing uncomfortable. For bass-guitar, we suggest students to be at least 10-years of age, or older.
Due to the development of vocal chords and techniques used, 10-years of age is the earliest we recommend for intensive vocal lessons. Younger bodies may struggle to deliver proper breathing style due to their lung capacity, and are not well suited for the rigors of vocal study. However, our highly educated vocal instructors can tailor lessons for the younger student, in order to get them on the right track to develop their singing abilities.
The average age of our younger drum students is 8 years old. The recommendation of when to start depends more so on the size of the child – as they must be able to reach all of the equipment when in the proper position (both of the pedals, and all cymbals.)
Our studio welcomes violin students who are 5-years or older. Our experience has shown us that the most productive learning will occur at 5-years of age, and we do not recommend this instrument for much younger children.
Other Woodwinds (Saxophone, Flute and more), and Brass Instruments
Due to the lung capacity needed and size of some instruments, we recommend that most beginners be at least 9-years of age.
4. MAKE PRACTICING EASIER
Practice makes great Progress! However, unfortunately, one of the main problems music lessons face is the battle between parents and students to practice every day. Here are some helpful ways to make practicing easier:
Set the same time to practice at, everyday. This will help build it into your daily routine and make it less of an obstacle to “find time to practice”. For children, this will work well and give them something to look forward to. We recommend setting it at an earlier time in the day, as it will require less reminding from the parents.
Our studios recommend the method of Repetition, especially for beginner students, as time-spans of 20-30minutes can seem like an eternity for a younger child. Instead of instructing a student to ‘play for 20minutes’, we break the student’s practicing up into sections for them: play your scales 3-times each, perform your piece 5-times (etc). Using this type of practice method will allow the student to get into the mindset of counting by repetitions. In return, they will focus better on the task at hand and not the clock.
Rewards can help both young and old students keep motivated in their musical education. An adult student may choose to reward themselves with a trip to Starbucks, whereas a parent may encourage their child by giving them a sweet-treat, or more playtimes for a successful week of practicing. At our studio, we reward our younger students for great, attentive practice sessions, and correct assignments with stars and stickers on their work. We also allow one piece of candy after a student’s lesson, if the instructor says they did a good job that day. Sometimes we have a week with little practicing. In that case there is always next week.
5. USE RECOGNIZED TEACHING MATERIALS
When choosing a music lesson studio, be mindful of the materials that they use. We recommend and use recognized materials and methods. For example, there are piano books for the very young beginner, and books that are geared specifically for an adult that has never played before. Whatever level you’re at, there is a book designed just for you that will progress you comfortably at your own pace. These types of materials have been researched and improved upon over the years, and always upgraded to make learning easier. The use of recognized teaching materials will also ensure that if you ever need to move out of the area, or to a different part of the country, a new instructor will be able to pick up where the previous one had left off.