Your Survival Guide to Music Lessons
Are you interested in music lessons but are unsure where to begin? Many aren’t sure what to look for in a teacher, what gear they should have, or what to expect from the lessons. Should they be fun or strict? Can you use your great grandfather’s old guitar or should you invest in a new one? If these sound like the questions you’ve been thinking about for you or your child, this survival guide to music lessons can help.
Who Are We?
The Music Factory was founded in 2006 and is based in California. We’re run by successful drummer Danny Thompson who has extensive experience in the music business and who has traveled worldwide with his band. We teach around 350 private lessons per week and have over 20 qualified and passionate music teachers on our books. We teach students who are brand new to music as well as those who want to refine their existing skills.
Our music lessons can be fun, entertaining, structured, informative and progressive. There are some key things to consider about the learning process before taking up music as a hobby. Over time we have worked with a wide variety of music students, and have learned what it takes to get the most out of music lessons. Here is a collection what to do (and what NOT to do) to survive and thrive in your music lessons.
Find the Right Teacher- What Makes a Good Teacher?
For starters, choosing the right teacher can make or break the success of the lessons. This can be a multi-faceted task, so here are a few things to look for in your search.
A teacher needs to be engaging and have a personality that is compatible with the student’s to help keep the student interested in the subject. You may remember a teacher you had in school who worked you hard but made the process stimulating and exciting at the same time. It’s important that a music teacher loves what they do, and that their enthusiasm is transferable to you. This isn’t to say they’re not serious. Some of the most passionate teachers are deadly serious about their craft, but they have a way of talking about it and demonstrating it that mesmerizes and inspires the student. Most importantly, a student and teacher should get along and have an air of mutual respect and investment in the subject.
Structured plan and curriculum
Whatever topic you’re learning, whether it be at school, university or later on in life, it’s essential that there’s a clear structure and pathway that will be followed by the teacher and student. While in the past many music teachers have treated the lesson like a ‘jamming session’, The Music Factory has discovered that following a program is much more advantageous for the student. This involves knowing how to get from A to Z and breaking the lessons down into smaller achievable goals. This gives students a sense of direction and reward.
Great follow up and testing
Part of following a structured lesson plan involves introducing testing and follow-up methods. This assists in keeping the student on track, and it also gives them something to do in between lessons. For example, a student might benefit from tests, quizzes and certain online software which helps students access their music education from home. This can include PDFs of sheet music or YouTube videos for reference. Practice makes perfect and can determine the success or failure of a music student. Home-based software and a practice schedule not only improves the skill of the student but grants accountability and responsibility. A good music teacher will know the importance of this and will have home practice as a key part of their program.
Takes it seriously
A music teacher should love their craft and should be able to find the ‘fun’ in an exercise, but should also take the session seriously. They should approach a student like they’re one day going to be a pro, and encourage and support the journey. The real “fun” is had when a student understands their instrument and can begin to play and own their skill.
Set Yourself Up to Win
The next main point which is important to understand before starting music lessons is that there are some things you can do to better prepare yourself to do well. This involves looking at the gear you will use to learn music.
No matter what instrument you start with, it should be a good quality starter instrument to suit your individual needs. It doesn’t have to be extremely expensive, but should have a good reputation and be a noted professional brand. As it is an instrument, it needs to be properly tuned up, and certain adjustments may need to be made to ensure you are able to play it to its full capacity. While it may be tempting to have your kid play your fathers old acoustic guitar, they will be much more likely to succeed with a newer instrument that is professionally tuned. Just like when a child starts a sport and needs to invest in certain pieces of gear, the same goes for music lessons. It will be much more enjoyable for them to learn on an instrument that is making the right sounds when it should be.
There’s plenty of accessories to think about also. Don’t forget the stand, foot stall, pick, tuner, instrument stand and case – all of which will assist in getting the most out of music practice at home. Finally, an environment to practice in is paramount to long term success. This should be a spacious and undisturbed area with good light, plug sockets if necessary and minimal interruption. If good quality instruments, accessories and space are provided, then the student is far more likely to enjoy the process and stick with it.
How to Be a Good Student
We’ve talked about the teacher and the gear, now it’s time to talk about the third factor to music lessons being a success; the student. Yes, there are things that you or your child need to do as the student in order to make the lessons a success.
In order to successfully learn an instrument and get the most out of the lessons, a student needs to attend lessons consistently. This ensures that progress is made, that new skills aren’t forgotten and that confidence is built. Good attendance is essential in moving the lessons forward and demonstrates to the teacher that the student is serious. An inconsistent student is not as likely to perform well or remain motivated.
The more a student puts into something, whether it be sports, academia or music, the more they will get out of it. Practice makes a huge difference and is the catalyst to move lessons forward. The recommended number of times a beginning student should practice is 3 times per week, for a minimum of 15 minutes, although they can practice every night if they’re enjoying it and will get all the more out of it. A student who does not practice will find their progress is much slower and this can be a demotivating factor. As the student progresses, the needed practice time will increase.
For Kids- Involved Parents
Parents who have a child who is learning an instrument will do their child a big favor by taking an active interest in the process. Parents should ask questions, speak to the teacher, try to familiarize themselves with the music homework, and support practice at home. They should also attend recitals and events with their child and make it clear that they uphold a genuine enthusiasm for their child’s music. There’s a clear correlation between kids who drop out of their music lessons and parents who take very little interest. For a young student to remain motivated, confident, and self-assured of their talent, the parent should share in the positive experience.
Participates in Recitals and Events
Although it is not an essential requirement, students should be actively encouraged to put their new found skills into practice in a way that showcases them. They can do this by attending events and recitals. This gives them an opportunity to show off their learning, feel good about what they have achieved, and show parents or friends just how far they’ve come. Also, students who attend these events are more likely to progress at a rapid pace than those who don’t. It’s an opportunity to refine those key techniques while still having fun. Teachers will always place emphasis on the joy of playing with others, and this really is a big part of the purpose of learning music in the first place.
Stick With It
Learning music isn’t just a temporary achievement, it’s a skill that, once cultivated, sticks with a person for a lifetime. The fun and entertainment that is achieved alongside it is irreplaceable. Therefore it’s so important to keep going with it. There may be times in life when motivation levels fluctuate and external influences such as exams or schedules get in the way, but the bottom line is that if a student remains committed, they will make progress. “I’m glad my parents let me quit when I was younger” said no grown child ever.
Survive and Thrive in Music Lessons
Learning how to play an instrument is a rewarding and pleasurable experience that also refines many skills such as sight-reading and music theory. It is something that you can take with you throughout life and which can be a beneficial hobby for the mind, soul, and for those around you. In summary, in order for a student to enjoy the learning experience, many considerations must be made such as the teacher they choose, equipment purchased, practice schedule, and attendance of recitals and events. If you are a parent, then your enthusiasm and support will work wonders for keeping a budding musician engaged and able to get the most out of their lessons.
With the knowledge of these tips in mind, which have been realized through hundreds and hundreds of lessons, you are already a step ahead in the process of surviving and thriving in music lessons. If you would like to learn more about starting lessons at The Music Factory, you can head over to our website to learn more about our teachers and lessons, give us a call, or come on by and see for yourself in person.