Regardless of what instrument your son or daughter is playing or wants to play, it is important to understand that music tuition is a very big subject. If you are to get your money’s worth from your hard earned dollars to pay for their music tuition, here are some tips to help ensure they get the most out of their lessons and give them the best opportunity to get maximum enjoyment out of their music making.
1.Make sure you are choosing a good teacher. Ideally the teacher you choose would have a solid professional history of performing as well as an enjoyment of teaching. They should also have some kind of formal qualification such as a Bachelor of Music or Bachelor of Music Education. At the very least they should have completed their Diploma in Music and have a performing history. It is not as important that they have a long teaching history because often the best teachers are the ones who have mastered their chosen instrument and practiced their craft over many years. It can be likened to the elite sportsman who had a good career and has gone onto coach after their playing career finished.
2. Choose one on one lessons over a group learning environment. Music involves more of the learning faculties than other subjects due to the physical act of training the fine motor skills, the intellectual aspects of learning how to read music (just like learning another language), the aural training for the ears and the emotional intelligence to commit to regular practice sessions and the ability to make the most of constructive feedback. Although many teachers will teach in groups, it is often at the cost of the education of the students and more for the profit of the teacher, or a cost saving measure for the school. If you really want to ensure your child has the best chance of success in terms of committing to their chosen instrument and developing their skill which can have the added benefit of enhanced self esteem, it is best to choose one on one lessons.
3. Be your child’s main fan and take an interest in what they are learning. The main factor as to whether your child will continue on with music lessons has as much to do with your involvement as it does with the person who is teaching them.
4. Use technology to your advantage. There are many ‘how to’ videos posted on YouTube when it comes to learning a musical instrument. Although these are not a substitute for a one on one lesson in person, they can still be a great resource when your child gets stuck on a problem with the instrument and it is still 4 days away from the next lesson with the teacher. Ideally the teacher would be using technology to shoot follow up video lessons for each lesson taken if they are teaching from a tuition book, which ideally, they would be as it provides structure.
5. Make sure your child is keeping a practice diary where they write down how many minutes they practiced for and what they worked on in each practice session. This is great feedback for the teacher as well as accountability for the student, and will help develop the student much more quickly than having unfocused practice sessions. Initially it could be as little as 15 mins per day, but 15 mins per day is far better than an hour and a half the day before a lesson.
6. Know that learning an instrument is not all fun and games. Although the foundation of learning an instrument should be about enjoyment, discipline and focus are needed to get the most enjoyment out of it to minimise frustrations which can easily end up in quitting the instrument leading to a loss of self esteem before the student has given themselves a chance to achieve a few milestones towards mastering the instrument.
7. Encourage your child to listen to lots of top quality recording artists who play their chosen instrument to help them get a real feel for the kind of sound they should be striving for in the long term. The teacher will have suggestions on who to listen to. It is not important whether or not the student ever achieve this sound or not, but it will go a long way to help them make the most out of their potential. This will also have the added benefit of developing their aural perception and help them develop nuances and expression in their playing as their skill grows.
Learning an instrument can be a great platform for developing many other skills in life such as perseverance, discipline, social skills when making music with others, and it is also well known that kids who learn an instrument are generally found to be higher academic achievers, and who wouldn’t want that for their child?