5 Ways To Get The Most Out Of Music Lessons
These guidelines will help you have a successful, rewarding experience learning an instrument. These are practical tips that we have discovered from years of teaching hundreds of students in Monmouth County each year.
How young is too young? Starting at the right age.
Adults can start an instrument at any time. Their success is based on their commitment to practice. We teach many adult beginners. Our Preschool program starts at infancy with Musical Me and continues for 4 and 5 year olds with our Intro to Music class.Choose a School Which Offers a Choice of Group or Individual Lessons for beginners
At the Academy of Music and Drama we start private piano and violin lessons no younger than 5 years old. At this age the child has begun to develop longer attention spans and can retain material with ease.
- Guitar - Acoustic or Electric
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 usually have small hands and may find playing uncomfortable. If you have a 7 year old who is very serious about guitar, we offer an introductory lesson to determine if we can teach the student.
- Electric Bass
Bass guitar students are usually 10 years old, but again, we will meet with 9 year olds if they are committed to the instrument.
We teach fundamentals of reading rhythms and coordination in addition to teaching basic drum parts to particular songs on a full drum kit. We recommend beginner drum students be at least 8 years old so that they can reach the pedals with their feet.
Generally speaking - 9 to 10 is a good age to start any of the band instruments including trumpet, saxophone, trombone, flute and clarinet. At this age the child has the stamina and physical development to play wind instruments.
Different students require different teaching approaches.
Some students progress best with the peer interaction and class motivation of a group session. Other students prefer the focused concentration of a one on one individual lesson. Once a student is more advanced it will be necessary to take private lessons to master the advanced techniques of an instrument or voice with individual attention. Make sure that your student has the option to choose the learning style that is best suited for them.
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 studio a student will not be distracted by T.V., pets, telephones, siblings or anything else. With only 1/2 to 1 hour lesson time each week, a professional studio environment can produce far better results since the only focus at that time is on learning music.
Make Practicing Easier!As with anything, improvement in music requires 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.
- Time - set the same time to practice everyday so it becomes a part of a routine or a habit. This works particularly well for children. Generally speaking, the earlier in the day the practicing occurs, the less reminding the parent has to do.
- Repetition - we use this method 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 your warm-up exercises 4 times a day and your piece 5 times a day. The child then does not pay attention to the amount of time they have practiced but knows if they are on repetition number 3 they are almost finished.
- Rewards - Parents can encourage children to practice by granting them occasional rewards for good practice. At our school we reward our young students with stars and stickers on their work. Praise tends to be the most coveted award - there is just no substitute for encouragement on a job well done. Sometimes we have a week with little practicing, and in that case there is always next week.
- Use Recognized Teaching Materials
There are excellent method books developed by professional music educators that are the backbone of our music program. When using these methods, students learn to read music, fundamentals of music theory and harmony - how to speak the language of music. These materials ensure that the student has a well rounded and thorough introduction to his or her instrument.
The fifth way to get the most out of music lessons is have fun!