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- Student Emily Vance's new video of Original Song Something Stupid
- School of Rock Winter Concert at EOP
- How to Best Choose and Instrument for your Child
- Unexpected Benefits of Learning An Instrument
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- Fall 2012 Newsletter
How to get the most out of music lessons
Music Lessons Guideline
These guidelines will help you to have a successful, rewarding experience with your music lessons. These are practical tips that we have discovered from years of teaching and our experiences with teaching hundreds of students each year.
The Benefits of Music
“Recently a number of reports have appeared that attest to the connection between music and academic achievement. In a study of the ability of fourteen year-old science students in seventeen countries, the top three countries were Hungary, the Netherlands, and Japan. All three include music throughout the curriculum from kindergarten through high school.”
“Another report disclosed the fact that the foremost technical designers and engineers in Silicon Valley are almost all practicing musicians.”
“Students of the arts continue to out perform their non-arts peers on the SAT, according to reports by the College Entrance Examination Board. In 2005,
SAT takers with coursework/experience in music performance scored 56 points higher on the verbal portion of the test and 39 points higher on the math portion than students with no coursework or experience in the arts. Scores for those with coursework in music appreciation were 60 points higher on the verbal and 39 points higher on the math portion.”
“While your child may never become a violin virtuoso, the time he spends practicing an instrument or singing in a choir will contribute to his aptitudes for problem solving, creativity, memory, coordination, and much more. And it's great fun!”
For more information on the benefits of music education go to :
Insist on Private Lessons when Learning a Specific Instrument
When actually learning how to play an instrument, private lessons are far superior to group instruction. In a private lesson the student receives the full and undivided attention of the instructor. Since everyone learns at his or her on pace, the lessons can flow at a speed comfortable to the student. Also, the lessons can be catered to the strengths, weaknesses, and even to a certain extent, the musical taste of the student. If the student is motivated to eventually play the blues for example, the instructor can keep this in mind and customize the lessons accordingly. Of course younger students and beginners as well will have to learn the basics before moving into such stylized material.
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, students cannot be distracted by TV , pets, ringing phones, siblings or anything else. With only ½ to one 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 and by being exposed to variety of musical instruments. In a music school, the lessons are not just a hobby or sideline for the teacher or establishment but a responsibility, which is taken very seriously.
Make Practicing Easier
Practicing an instrument is like getting involved in an exercise routine. It requires discipline and commitment. Anyone who applies him or herself and consistently does the work will get results.The trick is making it a part of your daily routine, realize that it takes years to become an accomplished musician and be patient and enjoy the process. 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 the day the practicing 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 or 30 minutes seems like an eternity.Instead of setting a time frame, we use repetition. For example, practice this piece 4 times every day, 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 if they are on repetition number 3 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. For example, a trip to Basken Robbins or extra time given to enjoy a favorite activity.
Music is something you can enjoy for a lifetime. Try not to put unrealistic expectations on your children to learn too quickly. Expect that most children will get frustrated or bored with the process somewhere along the way. Don't give into to the belief that insisting that they practice or continue when they want to quit will somehow turn them off to music. Many an accomplished musician had a mother or father who made them stay on tasks and are thankful for them. Most children would not brush their teeth or go to school if you did not insist that they do so. With younger students especially, check with their instructor regularly to see how they are doing, what is expected of them, and monitor their practice habits. But mostly, remain positive and supportive. Take them to concerts. Expose them to good music. Encourage them to play for family and friends. Try and make it fun!
The piano is probably the best all around instrument for anyone new to music lessons. It is the easiest instrument to get a tone out of. The layout of the instrument makes it easy to see the relationships of notes and how scales and chords are constructed. This is important when understanding music theory for example. You can play both melody and harmonies on the piano. If you do not already own a piano, we recommend that you look into a lease/purchase plan. Most piano companies offer this as an option. You can get a piano on a lease/purchase plan for less money than buying a keyboard and have a better instrument to learn on. Digital pianos that simulate the real feel of a piano can also be a good choice. Five years of age is the youngest age that we recommend for starting private piano lessons.
Guitar – Acoustic, Electric and Bass Lessons
Guitar playing requires a fair amount of pressure on the fingertips from pressing on the strings. The size of the instrument is also important. Too large of an instrument will tend to slip out of the child’s lap. Also, too long of a neck will put the students left hand into an awkward position. We recommend a nylon string classical style acoustic for younger children. The nylon strings are easier on the fingers. The guitars are generally available in ¼, ½, ¾ and 4/4 sizes. If you already own an instrument have an instructor check to see that it not only fits the student, but also can be tuned and that the general neck and string adjustment (the action) makes it playable. With older students, an acoustic is always the best to start on. However, if the student is motivated to play the electric and will not respond to the acoustic as well, an electric will do just fine. 6 years old is the earliest we recommend for guitar lessons Bass guitar students generally are 10 years and older.
The voice is an instrument just like any other. It requires consistent practice. The exercises for developing proper vocal technique require diligent practice and time. However, just about anyone who applies these techniques can improve their singing greatly. Seven years old is the earliest we recommend for voice lessons, however, ten years old is considered the best age to start learning the proper breathing techniques, and posture. From ages seven to ten years an emphasis is placed on learning songs, and performance technique, although breathing and posture are also taught, but on an elementary level.
Students starting lessons on the drums should have at least a practice pad and sticks. The rudiments that every drummer must master can be practiced on these. However, eventually the student will need a 5-piece kit in order to really apply what they have learned. Drums can be loud so choose a place in the home where the student will not be a disturbance to everyone else. However, keep in mind that there are products out there that can be used to muffle and deaden the drum’s sound. 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.
Flute, Clarinet & Saxophone
School band programs are where most students get their first exposure to woodwind instruments. Most of these programs are quite large. The students rarely if ever get any personalized instruction. Private lessons for these students can make the difference between success and failure. We recommend renting your instrument initially since there are many good rental programs for band instruments. Due to lung capacity (and in the case of the saxophone the size of the instrument), we recommend that most woodwind beginners are 9 and older.
Violins come in sizes from 1/16 to 4/4. As a result there are instruments to fit children as young as 3. We accept violin students from the age of 5. Some teachers will start children as young as 3, but experience has shown us the most productive learning occurs when the beginner is 5 or older. For these younger students, our school offers Suzuki violin lessons. These lessons are geared toward younger children and involve parental participation in the learning process. Parents sit in on the lessons and work with the child on their daily practice. Violins are readily available for rental and are therefore our recommendation for starting out.
Trumpet, Trombone and Lower Brass
School band programs are where most students get their first exposure to brass instruments. Most of these programs are quite large. The students rarely if ever get any personalized instruction. Private lessons for these students can make the difference between success and failure. We recommend renting your instrument initially since there are many good rental programs for band instruments. Brass instruments require physical exertion and lung power. The instruments only come in one size and can be cumbersome for smaller children. We recommend that students be at least 9 years of age or older to start playing a brass instrument.
3 – 4 year olds Students
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 a negative If a pre-schooler has a keen desire and wants to start music, a group preschool music class will give them a good foundation in music basics, which will be helpful in later private lessons. At this age, private lessons generally do not work as the child has not yet experienced the formal learning environment of kindergarten or school and learns more effectively through the game oriented preschool environment.