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Friday, 27 September 2013 18:12

I signed my child up for private lessons . . . now what?

Your child’s orchestra or band teacher recommended private lessons. You did your research, came for a tryout lesson, and found a good match for your child with an enthusiastic and experienced teacher. What next?

First of all – congratulations! You just helped not only your own child, but your child’s orchestra or band teacher, and the other beginning musicians in the class. Our local school music teachers, whose outstanding programs do a wonderful job of introducing students to their instruments, encourage private lessons right from the start. They know that hands on, one-to-one help from a good private teacher will make your child a more confident and better-prepared student, and thereby help raise the standard for everyone in the class.

Here’s how you can help your budding instrumentalist get the most value from his or her private lessons right from the get-go:

    • Set up a good practice space. Your young musician needs good lighting, room to move as the instrument requires, a stable music stand, and ideally a mirror to check hand and body positions (a picture is worth a thousand words – especially when it’s a picture of yourself). And of course, the space should be free of any electronic distractions – including a loud TV or stereo in the next room.
    • Help your child figure out an evening routine that factors in time for practice. You learn to play an instrument by doing it, and doing it often. Planning ahead makes it much more likely that regular practice will happen. Shorter daily or near-daily sessions are the way to go; last-minute cramming doesn’t work, especially when you’re trying to build muscle memory.
    • Make sure your child checks the private lesson notebook and the school music website (or check yourself along with a younger child) before practicing, so that time is used effectively and required material covered before the next lesson or class.
    • Ask your child to share some of his new pieces with you – and applaud his efforts, even if they’re a little squeaky. Getting a sound out of a new-to-you instrument is not easy, and beginning musicians need lots of encouragement!
    • Ask your child to teach you one or two of the techniques covered in class, or mentioned in the notebook – especially if you yourself can barely figure out how to hold the instrument! Teaching the material to someone else is a terrific way for your child to reinforce what she’s learned at her lesson, but that’s not all. When she sees you struggling with something that she’s already getting better at herself, she’ll feel empowered and successful, and encouraged to do more.

Some of these points will be covered in more detail in future blog posts. Meanwhile, call and ask us if you have any questions!

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