1. Insist on Private Lessons When Learning a Specific Instrument
Group lessons work well to give an introduction to music. However, when initially learning how to play an instrument, private lessons are a far superior method of learning. With one-on-one private lessons, each student can learn at their own pace, and it is hard to miss an instructional element which is essential to a strong musical foundation. This means the instructor has the time to focus on the individual student’s strengths and weaknesses.
2. Take Lessons in a Professional Teaching Environment
Learning music is not just a matter of having a qualified instructor, 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 telephones, siblings, or anything else. With only 30 to 60 minutes of lesson time per week, a professional school environment can produce better results. 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 instruments.
3. Make Practicing Easier
As with anything, improving in a musical skill takes practice. One of the main problems with music lessons is the discipline of practicing and the conflict between parents and students to practice every day. Here are some ways to make practicing easier:
Time – Set aside 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 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. Then child then does not pay attention to the amount of time they are practicing the instrument, but rather the number of repetitions they have completed.
Rewards – This works very well for both children and adult students. Some adults reward themselves with a fun coffee drink 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 stars and stickers for their work. However, praise tends to be the most coveted award. There’s just no substitute for a pat on the back for a job well done!
Our instructors are happy to help by suggesting additional effective and creative practicing methods.
4. Use Recognized Teaching Materials
There are excellent materials developed by professional educators that are geared for every level: a young beginner, students with moderate to advanced skill level, or even the adult beginner.
5. HAVE FUN!
Music should be something 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 enjoy the journey!