Thinking About Music Lessons? What To Know Before You Start.
For most American families, children spend much of their after school day in extracurricular activities such as ballet, soccer, art, or music. These activities are chosen as a supplement to the child’s school education. In many places, music programs in schools have taken massive cuts, so after school programs have picked up the slack and allow children to excel in their chosen instrument. As many parents do not have much or any musical experience, here are some thoughts to discuss before signing up with a teacher or a program.
1. Is this your decision, or your child’s decision?
In many cases, a child will show an interest in a certain instrument and want to start lessons. Then after starting the lessons, the reality of what it means to learn an instrument kicks in, and the child decides they are bored or don’t like it. These are indicators that the child did not understand what it really means to study an instrument. It takes years to become proficient on any instrument. Children need guidance, they will be impatient and wonder why they can’t play a certain song yet.
As a parent, you can set them up for success by having honest and straightforward discussions about doing daily practice and what it takes to learn and improve on an instrument. If you need help with setting realistic expectations, this can be discussed with the teacher as they have the years of experience and advice that can help each student succeed.
2. Time commitment and investment
Learning an instrument is a long-term investment. One year of study still means that a child is a beginner. Just as child learns a language by immersion from birth but does not speak fluently until 6 or 7 years old, it will take 6 or 7 years (or more) of focused study for a student to become a competent and intermediate performer. A good teacher will tell you this up front if you ask.
Teachers usually have some kind of practice commitment requirement that they’d like from their students. Some music programs require a music theory class taken alongside a music lesson. As the child progresses there will then be opportunities for playing in a band or orchestra. Look ahead to see what is possible. This is another area to discuss with your child to see where their interests lie.
3. Ask for recommendations
The best way to find a good music program and a motivated teacher is by word of mouth. Ask other parents at the school drop-off, attend an area student recital to watch music students perform, and gain information from acquaintances. Then evaluate and make your own decision about which instrument and teacher you’d like to choose.
4. Talent is overrated.
Musical talent is just one part of what it takes to be a competent musician. The other very important ingredients are dedication, discipline, and perseverance. With hard work, encouragement, good teaching, and time, your child will have the tools to becoming a well-rounded musician.
Accomplished music students understand the amount of grit and hard work that comes with improving at their instrument. Hours in the practice room analyzing, problem-solving, and repeating difficult passages are all part of a musician’s journey. What you see as a final product on a stage is hours of hard work put into practice. It all starts with the decision to take music lessons.