This page may help parents and children understand what learning an instrument is about.

At the bottom of this page are printable PDF documents we have gathered that we believe will steer students on the right path to positive results, but before you read them, please read on.

Music Teacher's, not only those at The Learning Lounge, believe it is essential that the parents of young students become actively involved in all aspects of their child's musical experience from day one. Even a parent who "hasn't got a musical bone in their body". Parents are the key to success and are undoubtedly the greatest teachers of all.

Sometimes a child's results might not be up to a parents or child's expectations. It might be that sometimes our expectations are unrealistic. Most people are totally unaware of what learning an instrument involves. Playing an instrument is an extremely difficult skill to acquire and maintain.

Whether it be physically, academically, artistically or spiritually, we often don't reach our goals due to many things. Lack of exercise, will power, commitment, organisation, initiative, talent, etc are often blamed, but more often than not, we fail because we haven't realized how dedicated and devoted we need to be to achieve good results.

Practicing is the absorption, mastery and maintenance of skills.

Every Teacher has their own books, systems, methods and ideas when it comes to teaching and practicing, and your child's specific requirements (if any) should be discussed with the teacher in the first term. This might include them being in the school band, doing HSC music, wanting to do music grades and exams, needing structure by working from a book or just wanting to have fun.

The Teacher's roll is to see that the skills necessary are developing properly and practice has been done CORRECTLY and regularly from lesson to lesson. Without a parent's supervision at home this is almost always not the case. Taking time to see your child develops the correct methods required for their instrument is essential if they are not to fail. YOU the parent must get involved. YOU must build confidence and explain to them that improvement will follow in time. Remember - Lessons are an investment of TIME and MONEY. To get a positive return on the investment a student must PRACTICE!

"He/She loves their lessons but just wont practice"

Kids love to sit and watch a teacher play an instrument. Unfortunately, some kids think that sitting in the "Magic Chair" in the Teacher's room will make them play better instantly. Most students use their time ineffectively by "noodling". They have given up practicing the harder parts and are not pushing themselves. Some believe that 1o minutes every couple of days will see results. Many kids think that one large chunk of practice is better than small regular times every day. Not so! Two small sessions a day will give far better results. There is no fatigue, no temptation to stop and less chance of interruptions. The brain is more likely to remember what it did 6 hours ago than what it did 7 days ago. What ever the reason a student needs focus, support and realistic goals to attain a good level of Singing and Musicianship.

Young students (5 - 8 year olds) are more about fun than hard work. Learning an instrument, especially guitar, requires very precise motor skills, listening skills and understanding of the new language that is "Music". These skills are similar to learning to speak, read or write. Expect your child's musical development to be at a similar pace as speaking, reading and writing. The early years are essentially a foundation for building the skills needed to learn how to practice and play. Neither you nor your child should expect too much to soon. They just need to be encouraged and be aware that regular correct practice is essential.

In most cases if you give a child (especially young children) the option to practice or not, they usually opt for not. Real practice in most cases can sometimes be a tedious and boring chore but it is a necessity. If a child receives a parent's attention and guidance setting up a workable practice schedule and keep their child focused it will lead to constructive practice time. Ask your child exactly what they are working on. The best time to ask is straight after their lesson. If you ask them on a regular basis they will often pay more attention in class knowing the questions are coming. Try to understand it yourself. Even better try learning their instrument yourself. Feel free to sign up for a Term's lessons.

If students have a realistic expectation that the first 6 to 12 months are the hardest because skills and routine need to develop then they are more likely to stick with it. Establishing a routine of lessons and practice might require a sacrifice, but more often it just means handling "Spare Time" more efficiently. Less TV, computer or Play station time etc.

A good idea to motivate kids is to set up regular "Performances" in the comfort of the family environment. Have a "Concert" every term. This gives them a goal to work towards. Maybe offer a small reward for their efforts. A child that has an incentive will more likely cooperate and prepare for a performance than if they are told they will lose some favourite thing if they don't practice.

The Learning Lounge does not agree in the idea of compulsory performance at concerts . We do have a performance day organized every year where Teachers perform and ask their students to play if they so desire, either with their teacher, a backing track or with a friend. It's a great afternoon.

A recommendation for ideas about practicing is to splurge on an excellent book called Practiceopedia. A link to their site is - http://www.practiceopedia.com

"I don't want to play anymore"

Learning to play an instrument is not necessarily fun, but playing an instrument is. Some times kids quit because they are not passionate about music or they don't like the teacher or they thought it was easy and found it to be the opposite. Maybe their friends think it's uncool or their teacher seems frustrated and disappointed that they don't put in any effort. It could be the honeymoon period has expired and real effort is needed and the teacher wants results. It could be their parents are making them attend. It could be they were only dabbling. What ever the reason parents need to keep an ear or eye open and bring up any concerns they may have with the teacher earlier rather than later. Try and sit in on a lesson and see how they are relating to the teacher. If you want to talk to the teacher but they are always rushing to the next lesson then please leave a message with reception and they will have the teacher call you. Teachers are ALWAYS approachable when it comes to music.

Every child should be exposed to ALL styles of music. Eventually with time and other forces like siblings, peer group pressure and the media, they will start to develop a taste for a certain type of music, sometimes to the horror of the parent. At an early age you should play all styles of music and see what "clicks". Expose them to music where other instruments feature, not just their instrument.

Remember - Parents are the key to success and are undoubtedly the greatest teachers of all.

I really hope this article helps answer any questions about learning an instrument. If you have ANY questions or concerns about your lessons or progress during your time with The Learning Lounge then do not hesitate to call me.

Vanessa Gordon

Downloadable "Practice " Articles

What is Practicing ? and print (PDF Format)

Why Practice ? and print (PDF Format)

When to Practice ! and print (PDF Format)

How Much Practice ! and print (PDF Format)

Practice Without Your Instrument ! and print (PDF Format)

Getting Out of a Playing Rut ! and print (PDF Format)

Seven Steps For Positive Practice Habits and print (PDF Format)

A Guide To Great Home Music Practice and print (PDF Format)

10 Easy Ways To Become A Better Guitar Player and print (PDF Format)

How to practice drums effectively and print (PDF Format)

Please check out our "Downloads" page for some games and other software and articles to help with theory and Singing and Musicianship and other areas of interest

Practice does not make perfect - Perfect Practice makes Perfect

 

"Maestro - I would give up my life to play like that"

"Madam, I DID!"

 

"It's what you learn AFTER you know it all that counts"

 

"There is nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself "
Johann Sebastian Bach

 

"The music teacher came every week, to bridge the awful gap between Dorothy and Chopin " Unknown

"Don't play the notes. Play the meaning of the notes"

Pablo Casals

 

"I don't know anything about music. In my line you don't have to." Elvis Presley

 

"I don't like country music, but I don't mean to denigrate those who do. And for the people who like country music, denigrate means 'put down'." Bob Newhart

A note left for a pianist from his wife:
Gone Chopin, (have Liszt), Bach in a Minuet.

 

If you drop an accordion, a set of bagpipes and a viola off a 20-story building, which one lands first?
Who cares?

Son: Mother, I want to grow up and be a rock-n-roll musician.
Mother: Now son, you have to pick one or the other. You can't do both.

There were two people walking down the street. One was a musician. The other didn't have any money either.

 

What's the least-used sentence in the English language?
"Isn't that the banjo player's Porsche?

"What's the best thing to play on a guitar?

Solitaire.

Q: What's the difference between a guitar player and a large pizza?
A: A large pizza can feed a family of four.

Q: What did the drummer get on his IQ test?
A: Saliva.

 

Q: What is another term for trombone?
A: A wind-driven, manually operated pitch approximator.

 

Q: What has 3 legs and an idiot on top of it?
A: A drum stool.

 

Q: How is a drum kit and a Hoover alike?
A: They both have a dirt bag behind them.

page last updated Dec 3rd 2007