We regret that we don't have a sufficient staff to personally answer all of the inquiries that we receive. However, some questions are asked often enough that we thought they deserve some space here. Please remember that our thoughts on these matters are merely intended to provide some guidance.

When is a good time to start private lessons?

The most simplistic answer to this is "when the student is ready!" How can you know? First, has the student expressed an interest in the instrument? Let's look at the piano, for instance. Generally speaking, the earlier a student begins the study of the piano, the more participation is required by the parent. If you choose to start your child at the young age of 4 or 5, be prepared to observe the lessons and intiate the practice sessions. For a child this young, 2 lessons a week is recommended to keep the student from developing bad habits. Even for children up to the age of 7, we recommend 2 30-minute sessions a week, at least in the beginning. Most children are capable of learning to read music by the age of 6, which is an excellent time to start private instruction.

The piano is an ideal instrument on which to begin learning about music theory, and is highly recommended as the first instrument of study. When and if the student decides to switch, don't be discouraged! Much of the information your child has learned as a piano student will transfer to the new instrument.

How much practicing should occur in between lessons?

Like anything else, persistence is rewarded by progress. However, do not be surprised if your child balks at the idea of daily practice. It is normal! A parent can encourage progress by

establishing a routine schedule for practice
providing an area for practice that is quiet and conducive to learning music
providing postive feedback
asking the child's teacher to provide a weekly written assignment and keeping the student on track between lessons

Most music instructors welcome questions from parents on the topic of regular practice. Do not hesitate to communicate with your teacher if you are experiencing problems establishing consistent practice sessions. Very young children will have to be gently coaxed to practice. After a year or so of lessons, most students will gravitate to the instrument with less resistance, but will probably still need the structure of a schedule.

What should we look for in a music teacher?

Selecting the right music teacher for your child may take awhile. Ask your friends for references and check around before enrolling. It is a good idea to have a preliminary meeting with the potential instructor to discuss their methods and general policy. Some instructors believe strongly in recitals and competitions while others do not encourage performing. Some questions to ask a potential instructor are:

  • How long have you played your instrument?
  • Where did you receive your training and what degree programs have you completed
  • What method of instruction do you use?
  • Specifically, do you teach all of the following in every lesson; technique, ear training and theory?
  • Which books do you use?
  • What expectation do you have of my child?
  • How long are the lessons and what is your rate?
  • Will you provide performance opportunities for my child and if not, will you keep us informed of competitions, public recitals, etc in my area?
  • What is your policy for absences and make-up lessons?

During your interview with the teacher, observe the demeanor of the instructor to determine if this is someone who enjoys their profession. A negative attitude directed toward the student will go a long way to discourage their interest.

I am not a trained musician. How can I help my child learn to love and understand music?

You are extremely influential to your child's musical development, whether you are a trained musician or not. Your most important role is to be supportive and patient with the learning process. Learning to play an instrument (or to become a vocalist) takes years, however anyone can do it. It takes a combination of a willing student, a capable teacher and a supportive family environment. It is important to see that your child practices routinely, understands their homework and respects their instructor. Make yourself available to observe the lessons and the practicing. If you sense a problem with the teacher/student relationship, discuss it with the teacher, preferably when the student is not present.

Create a musical environment in your family by singing (preferably in harmony!)and playing music often. Be accepting of your child's taste in music and take them to the symphony and other concerts often. Expose your children to many diverse forms of music and encourage discussion about musical experiences.


Barb Granneman
schoolofmusic.com
10561 Wilson Rd. Brownsburg, IN 46112 USA
Phone: 888-568-2272 | Fax: 888-267-8313 |
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