Music Teachers National Association
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Monthly Archives: May 2011

Why Music Lessons Are Important For Kids


Music lessons allow children to be creative and explore new parts of their mind.? Music is an art form, and much like drawing and painting, it can be used as a way for children to express themselves and gain self-confidence.? Music lessons are shown to stimulate the brain on many levels and enhance children?s learning abilities.

Music is an academic. Learning to read music helps children in school because they are developing the skills necessary to recognize patterns and enhance reading comprehension.? A study done by E. Glenn Schellenberg of the University of Toronto at Mississauga found that 6-year olds that learned to play piano scored an average of 2.6 points higher on IQ tests than those who did not learn to play an instrument (many other studies have been done on children and music and show similar results).? Playing the piano helped these children to learn to think three-dimensionally which helps in problem solving and mathematics.

Many parents encourage their children to draw and be creative, and music lessons are another outlet for children to channel their creativity.? Along with creativity and self-expression, learning to play an instrument can help with a child?s confidence level.? There are many different instruments out there and odds are your child will excel with one of them.? Playing an instrument well will greatly improve your child?s confidence level.? Kids and adults alike love to rise to a new challenge and overcome it and learning to play an instrument well may be the challenge that your child needs.

Learning to play an instrument improves hand-eye coordination and other motor skills necessary for everyday life.? Music lessons also force kids to concentrate, which is another skill they will use all the time.

Although your child may never become a concert pianist or a rockstar, they will carry their knowledge of an instrument and music with them for life.? Most of our grandparents may not be able to throw a football across the yard, but they can still sing and play the piano.? Music is a gift that will stay will your child forever and eventually they will thank you for giving it to them.

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Choosing the Right Instrument


Music lessons are great for kids for a number of reasons, but before choosing an instrument there are a few things to consider.

The size of the instrument can be a deciding factor depending on where your child needs this instrument.? If your child is going to be taking band classes at school, then a larger instrument, like a baritone sax, may not be the right choice.? Also consider if your home has room for a piano or drum set, as these can take up quite a bit of space.

If your child is unsure of what instrument they want to play, then you can ask them a few questions to figure out what instrument would be right for them.? If they dislike classical music then lessons in guitar or drums may be more for them.? Love jazz music?? Then you might consider trumpet or saxophone lessons.? Many famous musicians will say that they decided to play that particular instrument because their idol (Louis Armstrong, Jimi Hendrix etc.) played it.? Mimicking an idol can be a good way to begin playing an instrument.

Cost is another big issue to consider before choosing an instrument.? If you have an old piano in your living room, then piano lessons might be a good place to start before investing in a new instrument.? Some instruments also cost less than others, such as, trumpet or clarinet.

The piano is by far the most popular instrument that young students learn to play.? That is because the piano is a great way to begin learning about music; the basic theories and practices of music are easily seen on a piano or keyboard.? Piano students can become familiar with the chords and harmonic structure in a way that is not easily attainable with other instruments.? If you?re not sure what instrument to start your child on, the piano is a good choice.? In fact, many school band instructors prefer students that have a background in piano.

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Keep Kids Interested in Music Lessons


Most kids at one point or another are going to want to quit taking music lessons.? Kids get distracted easily and will want to quit if they?re not seeing quick results.? A lot of parents will allow their child to quit because they think playing an instrument should be their children?s choice.? It?s great to give kids a choice, but inevitably years later, the kids are going to wish their parents had made them stick with lessons.? How many kids out there also say they want to drop out of school or eat cereal for every meal of the day?? Parents often don?t allow those things to happen and odds are the kids are thankful later when they graduate and have healthy eating habits.? The same thing applies with music lessons.? Force your kids to keep it up, maybe at least for a year, and see if they change their mind.? The quitting phase will usually pass and the child will be glad they stuck with it.

Start them young and on the piano. Starting kids young, on the piano, is a good way to get them interested in music.? It?s easy for kids to pick up other instruments (especially string instruments) if they already know how to play the piano.? Children as young as four can start taking piano lessons and learning the basics of music.

Branch out. Find other children in the area that play the same instrument as your child.? Children love doing things in groups and will be more excited about practicing.? Practicing an instrument is the only way to improve, and the better a child becomes at playing an instrument, the more likely they are to stick with it.

Take advantage of summer vacation. School vacations are a great time to enroll your children in a summer music program that offers more than just typical lessons.? It?s essential to keep with the private music lessons to be sure your child is getting the one-on-one help that they need, but a class where they can interact with other students and learn more than just the basics of music is a great way to change things up and keep children interested.? Most schools offer summer school programs and there should be some type of music program they can enroll in.

Stay involved! Staying interested in your child?s musical evolution is a great way to show them you care.? Children love when they are good at something and it helps when parents praise them and are genuinely interested in their lives.? Ask your child how music lessons are going: if they?re struggling with anything, what they like most, if they learned any new songs etc.? Talking about music and praising your child?s hard work will make them want to excel and continue learning.

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Why Take Vocal Lessons


Have you thought about taking vocal lessons but can?t seem to warrant learning something as easy as singing.? Your voice is an instrument just like a piano or violin; you need to learn to play it well.? Everyone?s been that person in a bar, all your friends are singing karaoke, and sure, most of them are not good, but you?re still nervous because you don?t think you have a good voice.? Vocal lessons can teach you how to hit those high notes and sing in tune.? Vocal lessons don?t see the same popularity as piano lessons because many people think a great singing voice is something you?re born with, and that may be true, if you?re Christina Aguilera.? However, if you?re an average person, some vocal lessons might be needed to fine tune you?re instrument.

Listening Actually listening to the music and learning to mimic it is something most people need to be taught.? It can be difficult to hit the high notes Mariah Carey hits on the radio, but that?s because you need to practice and learn how to hit those notes.? Correct breathing techniques are essential to singing on key and holding notes.? Those techniques are something a vocal instructor can teach.

Vibrato I?m sure everyone has heard of this, but may not know what it is.? Vibrato is a technique that consists of a pulsating change of pitch (regular or rapid) and it is used in singing as well as other instruments.? All voices possess the ability to produce a vibrato; however, most people need to be taught.

Improve Self-Confidence Back to the karaoke scenario.? At least once in your life you?re going to be in a situation where you have to get on stage and sing in front of a group of people.? Wouldn?t it be great to get up there and not be afraid of what?s going to come out of your mouth?? Many people are self-conscious about their singing voice and vocal lessons can help.

Self Expression Singing is a great to way to express how you?re feeling.? You can belt out a song filled with sorrow, joy, anger etc. and instantly feel better.? TV shows like Glee show the characters expressing themselves through song rather than dialogue because sometimes songs can express how you?re feeling better than your words can.

Posture One of the most important aspects of great singing is posture!? Your lungs can fill with air if you?re slouching and you look more confident standing tall.? Singing encourages body awareness and the ability to recognize poor posture.? Poor posture is not only a bad for your singing voice, it?s bad for your back and body.? Learning to correctly stand to sing well promotes good posture in everyday life.

Vocal lessons are designed to help students perfect their own singing voices, not change them.? Everyone has a distinct sound to their voice, whether they recognize it or not.? Your voice doesn?t have to be as memorable as Elvis Presley?s because it?s still distinct.? How many times do you answer the phone and instantly know who you?re talking to because you recognize that voice saying ?Hello??? Everyone has a distinct sound to their voice and vocal lessons aren?t going to change that, they?ll just perfect it.

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Switching Instruments


Worried that less than a year ago you shelled out big bucks on an instrument for your child and now they want to switch to a different instrument?? Children can be fickle with their decisions, but instrument switching doesn?t have to be a bad thing.? Many musicians started out playing one instrument, but later discovered a passion for a completely different instrument.

Make sure your child is certain they want to switch instruments before going out and buying a completely new instrument.? Children change their minds easily and their reason for switching may not be their own, maybe one of their friends is learning to play the oboe so now your child wants to switch from guitar lessons to oboe lessons.? See if you can rent the instrument that your child wants to switch to and let them get a feel for it before you allow them to completely switch.? Your child may think the oboe looks cooler than the guitar, but once they?re actually holding it they may realize they don?t like it.

Many parents begin their children with piano lessons because it is an easy instrument to begin learning and switch from later in life.? The piano teaches basic music skills that will make it easier to switch to a different instrument.? If you?re worried your child might be an instrument switcher, then start them on piano lessons and let them decide later if they would like to continue with piano lessons or take up an entirely new instrument.

Making up for lost time can be a concern with many parents when their child expresses interest in switching instruments.? When children first learn to play an instrument, they may not care as much about practicing or learning to play the instrument.? If they express interest in switching to a different instrument, they usually want to learn to play it, so they will be much more apt to practice and actually learn to play this new instrument.? Much like learning multiple languages, the lessons from the first instrument serve as instruction for the new one.

At one point or another, your child is going to want to quit music lessons.? This may actually be a good time to suggest instrument switching.? If you started your child on the guitar because the guitar is one of your passions, maybe you should see if there?s another instrument out there that your child would be more interested in playing.

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Music Lessons for Adults


A common myth about playing a musical instrument is that you have to start playing when you?re young.? This is actually far from the truth.? Adults are just as capable of learning to play an instrument as children are.? Here are some common reasons why adults are wary of taking music lessons:

No Time to Practice Finding time to take lessons or practice an instrument can be a problem for both adults and children, but you probably have more time to practice than you think.? After work while dinner is in the oven or your kids are doing homework, you can probably squeeze in a little bit of practice time.? You don?t have to set aside a solid hour of practice time per day, just play when you have a few spare minutes.? As long as you?re getting in the practice, it doesn?t matter if you?re playing straight for an hour or 15 minutes here and there.

No Experience It?s never too late.? Many people find an interest in learning to play an instrument later in life; it?s a great hobby to pick up.? It?s no more difficult for an adult to learn to play an instrument than it is for a child.? The reason people think it?s easier for children is because children don?t have the responsibilities that adults have.? Children are able to focus solely on music for an hour of lessons, while an adult?s mind may stray to other tasks they have to complete that night.? The main thing adults need to focus on is concentrating on learning the instrument and practicing.? Other than that, there is no scientific evidence that children are more capable of learning to play an instrument.

Learning to play an instrument can be a great escape for an adult where they can let go of all their worries and only focus on the music.? Many adults have always wanted to take music lessons and now might be the right time to actually do it.

Determination While kids usually have to be persuaded to attend music lessons and practice their instrument, adults are motivated and want to learn.? If an adult is taking music lessons then it is because they have a passion and want to learn to play this instrument.? This makes music lessons more enjoyable for the student and the teacher.? Adults also have a much higher attention span than children which makes it easier for them to practice for long periods of time.

Understanding Adults can learn complex concepts and understand technical definitions better than children can which makes it easier to learn.? Understanding how music works and music theory is an interesting part of music that shows another side to music that children might not be able to grasp yet.? Adults are often more interested in the background of music than children are as well.? Understanding music concepts is essential to learning and this is one area that adults can learn much easier than children.

Reading Some children start music lessons as early as 4 years old, before they are even able to read, which makes it hard to use basic teaching methods.? Adults can already read letters and numbers, so teachers are able to dive right in with reading music and teaching how to play the instrument.

Bonding If your child is already learning to play an instrument, then practicing together can be a great way to spend some time together.? Even if you?re learning to play different instruments, you can still take time to show each other something new that you?ve learned (and hey it?s practice too).

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What Age to Begin Music Lessons


There is no specific age that all children have the capability to begin music lessons. All children develop at different rates and it?s important to be sure your child is ready to begin music lessons before forcing them to enroll. There are a few things to consider before beginning your child in music lessons: natural music ability, academics and maturity.

Natural Music Ability: Some children are born with a natural music ability that will allow them to learn an instrument easier than other children. Does your child love singing along with music on the radio and can he/she actually use the correct pitches? Does your child tap their spoon on the table at dinner time to a rhythm? If so, then your child might be ready for music lessons at an earlier age. Children with natural music ability will typically be ready for music lessons as early as age 4 or 5.

Academics: Academics are a large part of being able to learn an instrument. When learning to play the piano, a child will need to be able to know parts of the alphabet backwards and forwards in order to make sense of the music. If your child cannot read yet, then they will require more help practicing at home since teachers often write down homework assignments for the child to do before the next lesson. Math skills are just as important as reading skills when it comes to music as well. Music is divided into sections called measures, and each of those measures has the same number of beats. Students need to be able to make sure each measure has the correct number of beats by adding and subtracting.

Maturity: Maturity is important in music lessons because it takes time and patience to learn an instrument. If your child doesn?t have patience or understand that learning takes time, then they are more likely going to want to quit lessons or not practice their instrument. If your child lacks patience than it is unwise to enroll them in private music lessons because it makes things much harder on the teacher. It takes time to learn an instrument and if the teacher has to constantly force your child to focus and pay attention to the lessons then learning the instrument will take much longer. Your child needs to be able to handle criticism as well before enrolling in music lessons. If your child can?t handle someone telling them their strengths and weaknesses then they will not be able to excel in music lessons.
These qualities are merely guidelines for understanding when your child is ready for music lessons. A child can learn music perfectly well without knowing how to read or having a natural talent, but it will make things more difficult. Parents and teachers will have to work much harder at music lessons to help a child learn an instrument if they are lacking any of the above skills.

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