5 Ways to get the most out of music lessons

These guidelines will help you to have a successful, rewarding experience learning an instrument. These are practical tips that we have discovered from years of teaching and our experiences with teaching hundreds of students each year.

1. How Young is too Young – Starting at the Right Age
Adults can start any instrument at any time. Their success is based on how willing they are to commit to practicing. We teach many beginner students in their 60’s and 70’s.

For children, starting at the right age is a key element to the success of their lessons. Some people will tell you “the sooner the better”, but this attitude can actually backfire and be negative. If a child is put into lessons too soon they may feel overwhelmed and frustrated and want to stop lessons. The last thing you want to do is turn a child off of music just because they had one unpleasant experience which could have been prevented. Sometimes if the child waits a year to start lessons, their progress can be much faster. Children who are older than the suggested earliest starting age usually do very well.

The following are guidelines we have found to be successful in determining how young a child should start taking music lessons.

Piano/Keyboard
At our school 4 years old is the youngest age that we start children in private piano lessons. At this age they have begun to develop longer attention spans and can retain material with ease.

Guitar – Acoustic, Electric, and Bass
8 years old is the earliest we recommend for guitar lessons. Playing the guitar 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. Bass guitar students generally should start at 9 years due to the size of the instrument.

Voice Lessons
10 years old is recommended as the youngest age for serious private vocal lessons. Due to the physical nature of the instrument (proper breathing, development of the vocal chords and lung capacity), the younger body is generally not yet ready for the rigors of vocal technique. For children under 10, we do accept students into private lessons (ages 6-9) that teach the student how to use their voice properly, in a fun relaxed environment. Once the student becomes a little older it is much easier to transition into more serious vocal study without causing stress on the voice.

Drums
The average age of our youngest drum student is 8. This varies greatly depending on the size of the child. They have to be able to reach both the pedals and the cymbals.

Violin/Viola
We accept violin students from the age of 4. Some teachers will start children as young as 3, but experience has shown us the most productive learning occurs when the beginner is 4 or older.

Brass & Woodwinds
Due to the lung capacity (and in many cases the size of the instrument) we recommend that most woodwind and brass beginners are 9 and older.

2. Private Lessons vs. Group Lessons
Group classes work well for preschool music programs, and band situations. However, when actually learning how to play an instrument, private lessons are far superior since in private instruction it is hard to miss anything, and each student can learn at their own pace. This means the teacher does not have to teach a class at the middle of the road level, but has the time and focus to work on the individual’s strengths and weaknesses. For that lesson period the student is the primary focus of the teacher. The teachers also enjoy this as they do not have to divide their attention between 5-10 students at a time and can help the student be the best they can be.

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 t.v., pets, ringing phones, siblings, or anything else. With only one-half to one-hour lesson times per week, a professional school environment can produce better results since the only focus at that time is music. Students in a school environment are also motivated by hearing peers who are at different levels and by being exposed to a variety of musical styles and instruments. In a music school, the lessons are not just a hobby or side job for the teacher but a responsibility that 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 everyday. Here are some ways to make practicing easier:

  1. Time – Set the same time everyday 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.
  2. Repetition – We use this method quite often when setting practice schedules for beginners. For a young child 20 or 30 minutes can seem like an eternity. Instead of setting a time frame, we use repetition. For example, practice this piece 4 times everyday 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 that if they are on repetition number 3 they are almost finished.
  3. Rewards – This works very well for both children and adult students. Some adults reward themselves with a cappuccino after a successful week of practicing. Parents can encourage children to practice by granting them with occasional rewards for successful practicing. We have a “Student of the Month” program to reward those students who have a successful month of practice. Praise tends to be the most coveted award; there is just no substitute for a pat on the back for a job well done. Sometimes we all have a week with little practicing, in that case there is always next week.

5. Playing with other students
Taking music lessons in a professional environment has other benefits as well. The opportunity to play with other musicians is invaluable. For many, the ultimate goal is to play with others and maybe even form a band. What better place than a music school. Throughout the year students who take private lessons at a school are involved in many student performances and events. Making music with other musicians opens up many doors and is the ultimate motivator. Students become more confident, learn how to work with others, and many times discover their creativity.

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.

Call Today For A Trial Lesson!
(714) 779-2955

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