Our Instructors Answer Your Questions

Here is your chance to hear what our instructors (and maybe even some of yours!) have to say about music education, practicing, and family involvement. Below are popular questions that we have received from families regarding music education and private lessons. Feel free to E-mail us with your own question; we will may even use your question and the response on MSO!

Question 1

At what age do you recommend students to begin private music lessons, and why? What kind of hindrances do you come across with students of different ages?

"The best age for student to begin vocal training is about 12 years old, although younger students can benefit from formal training as well." - Wendi

"As a general rule, I don't advise students to begin drum lessons before age 10 for most students; however, it is not a matter of age but of maturity and the student's ability to concentrate on the job at hand." - Dave

"I prefer to teach students from the age of eight and up. This way, I can keep their undivided attention." - Jose

"No earlier than five years. You can't really develop the voice at that age but you can at least start with ear training and use of the voice." - Miguel

"Five years old. It depends on the individual, but there are many advantages to early instruction." - Susanne

"It depends on the child. Generally by the ages of 5-7 (when they are able to read), most children are ready. Before that age most children do not have the attention span and dedication to practice or the cognitive capacity to grasp all the necessary concepts." - Nicole

"I recommend for guitar or bass guitar, probably 8 or 9 years, but this depends upon the student’s attention span. I have seen them start younger and succeed, but this also has a lot to do with the parent’s involvement. If parents stay active in the lessons, as with any schooling the students, the students do better. Hindrances mostly include outside influences, purchasing inferior instruments, instruments too hard to play, and oddly enough, video games." - Scott

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Question 2

What are the characteristics of a student who would be most successful with a private music lesson program?

"Practice is extremely important to progress as well as an open mind and willingness to try new things." - Wendi

"A successful student needs to have a minimum of five half-hour undistracted practice sessions each week as well as a sincere desire to learn his/her instrument." - Dave

"Someone who enjoys playing and wants to learn" - Anonymous

"A successful musician is one who puts his/her practice time in his/her everyday schedule. The person must love music to the fullest because they will have to sacrifice to be good." - Jose

"Practice, open mind, and desire" - Miguel

"Interest in music, desire to create music, commitment to making music" - Susanne

"Students who are most successful with private music lessons are persistent, dedicated to practice, and willing to focus and follow directions. They also enjoy playing and have a desire to continue lessons." - Nicole

"A student that really wants to have fun with it, but takes it seriously, as always, a good deal of practice. One that also takes a great deal of personal pride in his or her own accomplishments." - Scott

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Question 3

What kind of involvement is required from the student's parents and family?

"Commitment to attendance" and "encouragement to practice" - Wendi

"Encouragement and support are the most things a family can give to their studying son or daughter. Ask the student to show you what he/she learned in his/her lesson and be respectful of their accomplishments." - Dave

"Parents need to make sure children are present at lessons each week. Student should be willing to spend time practicing each day." - Anonymous

"From the students: Practice, energy, and enthusiasm. From the parents: Support for both student and teacher. From the family: Show up in recitals." - Jose

"Students should want to play and not be forced by parents. Parents should encourage their children and stay on them; however, they should not force the students but give them space for self-learning and discovery." - Anonymous

"LOTS. The families should show a lot of encouragement and support and they should make sure the student practices; however, don't force the issue. Exceeding pressure may cause the student put up a guard." - Miguel

"Parent involvement is critical to student's musical achievements and success. Encouragement helps to increase student's interest in music." - Susanne

"The student's parents should be involved simply by encouraging the child, listening to him/her play, and praising him/her for his/her work. They should also stay in contact with the teacher to keep track of their child's progress and to make sure their child is practicing properly." - Nicole

"Let the student enjoy it, take them to see live music, expose them to a lot of different styles of music. But encourage them to learn songs they are familiar with ( movies, radio, etc..), and balance that with a great ability to sight read music and a good theory background." - Scott

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Question 4

If a child is not learning from the lessons, what may be the problems?

"Practicing is usually the main reason a student doesn't progress. Sometimes it may be the teacher/student relationship. Sometimes trying a new teacher gives a new outlook on music. Also, it may be that the student is simply not willing to learn." - Wendi

"The most common problem is that the student didn't realize before starting lessons that he or she would need to devote so much time and energy to learning the basics. Other problems could be just a bad personality chemistry between the student and the instructor, or sometimes the problem could be that the student's parents watch them too closely and turn practicing into a chore. Remember it has to be fun too." - Dave

"Missing too many lessons and not practicing" - Anonymous

"The student may not be practicing. Maybe the student is not getting any supportfrom parents. Perhaps the student doesn't love music enough to sacrifice for practice time." - Jose

"Lack of practice or communication between teacher and student" - Miguel

"Possible problems are lack of interest, lack of reviewing material during the week, or lack of time to devote (the student is involved in too many other activities )." - Susanne

"Most of the time if a child is not learning it is due to a lack of practice or failure to follow the teacher's instructions. However, it is helpful to speak to your child's teacher in such situations so they can modify their teaching methods to better motivate your child and to help him/her understand what he/she is learning." - Nicole

"Distractions like video games, NOT PRACTICING, but mostly not having fun with the instrument. Guitars that are too hard to play are the single worst cause or students not wanting to play. It hurts too much to do so. If a teacher is showing them things they aren’t interested in, like songs they recognize, they won’t want to play. I like to get them playing a song THEY have heard of within the first few lessons. That gets their excitement and self esteem up, and it takes off from there." - Scott

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Question 5

From your personal point of view, what are the benefits of music education?

"Practice teaches discipline." - Wendi

"Music students tend to learn about responsibility, discipline, and personal achievement." - Dave

"Happy life! Music fills the soul with joy and will affect the individual eve more if he/she is playing or making the music." - Jose

"You always have a second opinion and someone to guide you." - Miguel

"Discipline. Music teaches the student how to teach himself ANY subject, stimulates the mind, and helps to develop thought patterns. - Susanne

"Music education is an excellent way to develop a student's talent and increase his/her self-esteem. As a student becomes more advanced he/she will have increase opportunities to perform and have fun with what he/she has learning." - Nicole

"I like it from an artistic point of view. Being creative always helps anyone involved, also working within the confines of a group of other musicians. Nothing will ever beat playing music." - Scott

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