Music Lesson Practice Tips

guitar lessons

PRACTICE TIPS: MAKING YOUR PRACTICE TIME MORE PRODUCTIVE

• Practice a little every day. This is more beneficial than one or two really long practice sessions every week.

• Find a quiet place to practice so you don’t have any distractions. Practice slow, and gradually speed it up.

• Set aside a specific time each day to practice. It will become part of your daily routine and make practice consistent.

• Learn each phrase at a time. Practice SLOWLY until you have it, and then move to the next phrase.

• Playing from the beginning to end, but consistently making mistakes is not productive. You’re simply practicing mistakes. Break it up into sections that are harder for you, then try to piece it all together.

Record yourself. This is a great way to listen back and see if you made mistakes that you didn’t realize. LISTEN CAREFULLY!

• Practice the hard parts. It’s fun to play the parts you like, but you’ll only get better if you practice the things that are hard.

• Always refer to your teacher’s notes and comments to be certain you are practicing the correct material.

• Play for your family and friends. It might make you nervous, but make it fun and you will become a better musician.

• Remember to stand or sit in the correct position. You don’t want to hurt yourself! Before you leave, make certain you understand everything your teacher assigned to you.

• LISTEN. Listen to your favorite music and pay attention to what your instrument is playing.

5 Ways To Get The Most Out Of Music Lessons

guitar lessons

5 Ways to Get the Most Out of Music Lessons

These guidelines will help the music student have a successful, rewarding experience learning an instrument. Below are practical tips that we have discovered from years of teaching.

1. How Young Is Too Young? Starting at the Right Age

Adults can start any instrument at any time. Their success is based on how willing the are to commit to practicing. We teach many beginner students in their 60’s and 70’s.  For children, starting at the right age is a key element to their success in lessons. Some people say, “the sooner the better” but, this attitude can actually backfire. If a child is placed in lessons too soon they may feel overwhelmed and frustrated and want to stop taking lessons. The last thing you want to do is turn a child off music just because they had one unpleasant experience which could have been prevented. Sometimes, if the child waits a year to start lessons their progress can be much faster. Children who are older than the suggested earliest starting age usually do very well. The following are guidelines we have found to be successful in determining when to begin lessons.

Piano/Keyboard

We typically start private piano lessons at age five. At this age, they have begun to develop longer attention spans and can retain material with ease.

Guitar – Acoustic, Electric, Ukulele and Bass

Eight years old is the earliest we recommend for guitar lessons. Playing guitar requires a fair amount of pressure from the fingertips to press the strings. Children under eight generally have small hands and may find playing uncomfortable. Bass guitar students generally start at 10. Ukulele students are generally five years or older.  Ukulele is a great way to begin for a young student who wants to learn guitar. 

Voice Lessons

Private vocal lessons are generally most beneficial for children 10 years and older.  Due to the physical nature of voice lessons (proper breathing techniques, development of the vocal chords and lung capacity), the younger body is generally not yet ready for the rigors of vocal technique. 

Drums

The average age of our youngest drum student is eight. This varies greatly depending on the size of the child, as they need to be able to reach both the pedals and the cymbals. 

Violin and Viola

We accept violin and viola students from the age of five and up. Some teachers will start children as young as three, but experience has shown us the most productive learning occurs when the beginner is five or older.

2. 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 music school environment a student is not distracted by TV, pets, ringing phones, siblings or anything else. With only half 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 a variety of musical instruments. In a music school, the lessons are not just a hobby or sideline for the teacher, but a responsibility they take very seriously. They are dedicated to helping your child have the best music learning experience possible.

3. Make Practicing Easier

As with anything, improving in music takes practice. One of the main problems with music lessons is the drudgery of practicing and the fight between parents and students to practice every day. 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 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 for practicing, we use repetition. For example, “practice this piece four times every day and this scale five 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 three, 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. In our school, we reward young children for a successful week of practicing with stars and stickers on their work. Praise tends to be the most coveted award – there just is no substitute for a pat on the back for a job well done. Sometimes, we all have a week with little practicing, in that case there is always next week.

4. Use Recognized Teaching Materials

There are some excellent materials developed by professional music educators that are made for students in a variety of situations. For example in piano, there are books for very young beginner and books for adult students who have never played before. There are books that can start you at a level with which you are comfortable. These materials have been researched and are continually upgraded and improved to make learning easier. These materials ensure that no important part of learning an instrument can inadvertently be left out. If you ever have to move to a different part of the country, qualified teachers and institutions will recognize the materials and be able to smoothly continue from where the previous teacher left off.

5. Most Importantly … HAVE FUN!

Music should be something that the learner enjoys 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 be able to enjoy the journey.

Music Lesson Frequently Asked Questions

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Music Frequently Asked Questions (And Answers)

Q. Do I need a piano at home to take piano lessons?

A. While it is ideal if you do have a piano at home, you can start lessons with our piano teachers by using an electric keyboard to practice on at home. Most of our students rent or buy small electric keyboards to practice on at home. We recommend a keyboard that has regular sized keys and a touch sensitive response. A touch sensitive keyboard means if you press a key harder it will play louder and if you press a key softer it will play quieter.

Q. Do I need a full drum set to take drum lessons?

A. No. You do not need a full drum set to start drum lessons. Students can start lessons by using a practice pad. This is a small dinner plate sized pad that costs $20-$30 that is used for practicing basic drum rhythms.  As a drum student gets more advanced, our teachers can recommend options to help the student continue to grow.

Q. How long does it take to learn an instrument?

A. There is no set answer of how long it takes to learn an instrument. With regular practice, a basic level of playing can be accomplished in a few months. Most of our students take lessons on a long term basis because they want to be constantly improving and they find the lessons enjoyable.

Q. I don’t have any musical background or ability; can I still help my child practice?

A. Yes. Even if you don’t have a musical background you can ask the teacher for advice on how to help your child practice. By simply monitoring they are doing exercises a certain number of times per day, the student will progress. Many parents occasionally sit in on their child’s music lesson to get an idea of the proper way a song should sound or how the student should be positioning their hands.

Q. When is the best time to start?

A. The short answer is NOW!  The best time to learn an instrument is as young as possible.  You can see our guide on ages we recommend starting instruments HERE.

Q. What is the best instrument to start on?

A. If your child doesn’t have a preference of what instrument to learn, recommend they start on the piano because,

  • Notes are visually laid out from highest to lowest.  This makes it easy to understand
  • It requires the least amount of coordination and finger strength.  Other instruments such as the drums and guitar require a significant amount of coordination and strength such as holding down the strings or using different limbs to play a drum beat.

Back To School Music Lessons

Scrable letters spelling out Back To School on a yellow notepad with two pencils4 Reasons Fall Is The Best Time for Music Lessons

 

Getting A Routine With Music Lessons

Getting back into a routine during back to school season can be extremely tough. Wether it’s getting your kids to understand they can’t play as many video games because they have homework, or just getting them to wake up to go to school, it’s hard to find a good routine. The repetition of consistent weekly music lessons promotes routine, and then when you add in practice, you have a beautiful recipe for routine! At Spark, we have tons of awesome ways to encourage kids to practice including our rock star recitals, and our massive prize wall that rewards kids for good practice.

Academic Enhancement 

People have done studies on how music lessons help kids advance in all different subjects at school. It doesn’t matter if it’s a child taking violin lessons, viola lessons, or even ukulele lessons – they all activate the brain in amazing ways. Kids who are learning scales, rhythm, or beats are also learning the way that fractions work. Through this they are also recognizing patterns and mnemonic devices that help with memory. Music lessons also teaches kids about physics. When a student strums guitar strings or plays a violin they are learning about vibrations. Even drums and the mallet percussion, give children the opportunity to understand some basic scientific principles.

Music Lessons Build Confidence 

Starting school, going to a different grade, or even going to a different school can be a terrifying experience. When students take music lessons, they work on turning negative feedback into positive! Learning music, wether through piano lessons, guitar lessons, or any other instrument, is easily applied to advancement of public speaking skills. Then, once the student is advanced enough, they will have the ability to play an instrument in front of people confidently. This will significantly set them apart from their peers.

Music Lessons Are Fun 

Nobody wants to do anything that is boring. Taking music lessons with cool teachers makes learning an instrument easy to love. When kids are playing songs after just a couple lessons, and then learning their favorite songs on that radio after that, their smiles are the best testimonies. We have had kids walking out of piano lessons or drum lessons playing songs by Kelly Clarkson, Justin Bieber, and Led Zeppelin. It’s the coolest thing to see!

4 Ways Playing In A Rock Band Can Help Your Child Learn Teamwork

4 Ways Playing In A Rock Band Can Help Your Child Learn Teamwork

As we roll out our “Rock Band Experience” program this fall, we wanted to share with you the 4 ways that playing in band can help your child learn about teamwork.

  1. Listen – Being in a band means that you have to work together to make something sound amazing.  The drums must be listening to the guitar and piano to know where they are at in a song or how loud to play, the vocalist must listen to the drummer to know how fast to sing, the pianist must listen to the guitarist to make sure they are playing the same chords.  The list goes on and on.  One of the most important skills in being a part of a successful team is learning to listen to each other and not talk (or play) over the other person.
  2. Appreciate – Being a part of a successful team means appreciating each individual personality and voice that is brought into the group.  Playing in a rock band means you have to appreciate what the drums are bringing to the group.  You have to appreciate the textures that a piano can bring to the group.  You have to appreciate the rumble that a bass guitar provides.  Without any of these other unique instruments and voices, we would be back to practicing our instrument all alone.  Music was meant to be done with a team!
  3. Persist – Have you ever been to see your favorite band or singer, then all of the sudden, they make a mistake!!!  Oh no, they aren’t totally perfect!  When they made the mistake, did they stop playing or singing?  Or did they keep on going?  I’m willing to bet they kept going!  Being in a rock band means that you need to be persistent even if you make a mistake.  You must keep going and never stop to derail the whole band.  Your job is to get back on, keep going, and proceed like nothing ever happened.
  4. Fun – Being part of a highly successful team means you get to have fun!  Have you ever seen your favorite band playing on stage and they look like they hate what they are doing?  Probably not!  When you are part of a team or band that values each other, and leaves egos at the door, you can’t help but have fun!  Some of the most magical music moments I’ve been a part of involve another person turning around, rocking out with me, and smiling about how much fun we’re having.  Being a part of a rock band is one of the most thrilling experiences!

If you are interested in having your child be a part of the “Rock Band Experience”, please contact us at (763)445-9516 or fill out our contact form.  We can’t wait to rock out with you!

4 Ways To Nurture Your Child’s Music Lesson Confidence 

 

4 Ways To Nurture Your Child’s Music Lesson Confidence

At Spark, we believe that we have the ability to change the lives of students. A big piece of that is working with students to develop and nurture their confidence. Wether your child has been taking piano lessons for years, self taught themselves drums, or just started guitar lessons, we work with them to build their confidence. Here are 4 ways we can help nurture your child’s confidence.

We Encourage Curiosity

We love helping our students explore styles that they might not be comfortable with. Wether it’s learning to sing a jazz song, or play a rock song on a ukulele, showing a child there is more out there than just the music they know, helps facilitate curiosity and build confidence.

Learn From Our Mistakes

Nobody is perfect. As hard as we can try to achieve perfection, we still make mistakes. Our music teachers use the opportunity to teach students the importance of learning from mistakes. We do this by recording students in their music lessons or encouraging them to record themselves practicing at home. These are opportunities to help students learn and grow to become better musicians, students, and community members!

Encourage Practice, Don’t Pressure

We all want the best for our kids, especially when it comes to making a piano or violin sound beautiful. We have found that pressuring our students to practice can actually make them resent playing music. We teach our students that practicing will help them grow their skills, and if they practice, confidence in their music lessons and abilities will grow exponentially.

Let Them Find The Answers

Life is full of surprises and situations where we have to dig for the answers. We love leading students to uncover answers. Our music teachers work with students by not giving the answers right away, but rather asking questions to help the student find the answer. For example, if a student is taking piano lessons and doesn’t know what note they have to play, the teacher will ask questions about notes surrounding the unfamiliar note, in hopes that the student will find the answer using context clues.