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 out experiences with teaching hundreds of students.

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 have taught many beginner students in their 40’s, 50’s, and 60’s.

For children, some people will tell you, “the sooner the better,’ but this attitude can actually backfire and be a negative. If a child is put into lessons too soon, they may feel overwhelmed and frustrated, and wish to stop lessons. The LAST thing you want to do is turn a child off to music because they had one unpleasant experience which could have been prevented.

Piano – Keyboard

At our school, 5 1/2 years 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

7 years old is earliest we recommend for guitar lessons. Guitar playing requires a fair amount of pressure on the fingertips from pressing on the strings. Children under 7 generally have smaller hands and may find playing uncomfortable. Bass guitar students generally are 10 years old and older.

Drums – Drum Set

The average age of our younger beginning drum students is 7. We recommend students be around 9 to be able to handle the coordination it takes for drum set learning.

Voice Lessons

9 years old is recommended as the youngest age for private vocal lessons. Due to the physical nature of voice lessons (proper breathing techniques, development of vocal chords and lung capacity), the younger body is generally not yet ready for the rigors of vocal technique. For children younger than 9, we recommend a children’s choir that teaches them how to use their voices properly.

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 focused on music education. In a professional school environment, a student cannot be distracted by TV, pets, ringing phones, siblings, or anything else. With only 1/2 hour of lesson time per week, a professional school environment can produce better results since the only focus at that time is learning music. Students in a school environment are also motivated by hearing peers who are at different levels. In a music school, the lessons are not just a hobby or sideline for the teacher but a responsibility which is taken very seriously.

3. 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 every day. Here are some ways to make practicing easier.

Time

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 practice can occur, the less reminding is required by parents to get the child to practice.

Repetition

We use this method quite often when setting practice schedules for beginners. For a young child, 20 to 30 minutes seems like an eternity! Instead of setting a time frame, we use repetition. For example, “practice the piece four times every day, and this scale five times a day”. The child does not pay attention to the amount of time they are practicing their instrument, but knows if the are on repetition number three, they are almost finished.

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 occasional rewards for successful practicing. In our school, we reward young children for a successful week of practicing with a small piece of candy, or stars and stickers on their work. 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, and in that case there’s always next week.

4. Use Recognized Teaching Materials

There are some excellent materials developed by professional music educators that are made for students in a variety of situations. For example, in piano, there are books for very young beginners, and books for adult students that have never played before. There are books that can start you at a level you are comfortable with. These materials have been researched and are continually updated and improved to make learning easier. The materials ensure that an important part of learning the instrument won’t inadvertently be left out. If you ever have to move to a different part of the country, qualified teachers and institutions will recognize the materials and be able to smoothly continue from where the previous teacher left off.

5 Most Importantly…

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. Remember, “Music is the gift of a lifetime.”