The Importance of Effective Piano Practice

Is practicing a chore at your home? Developing consistent and effective piano practice habits is often the biggest struggle for those learning the instrument. Sometimes you just need a little help. If practicing is a struggle in your home, you could definitely benefit from our Practice Pals program. This program allows you or your child to have a Practice Leader actually practice with you three times each week! This is a great opportunity for beginning students as well as for those who have been playing for years.

Practice Pals can help teach a student how to practice the piano by walking with the student through his/her piano practice assignments throughout the week in a fun, engaging way. This will help lay a solid foundation for long-term musical success. It is crucial for a student to not only practice, but practice in such a way to make that time effective. If a student doesn’t know how to practice, much time will be wasted. Many students get discouraged due to ineffective practicing habits, leading to quitting private lessons. We have spoken with many adults who have had that experience themselves, only to regret their decision to quit music lessons.

 

We want to help! Practicing doesn’t have to be a chore! Give Practice Pals a try and see the amazing difference in your child’s progress! Don’t let your kid be the one who grows weary of the process and quits, only to regret that decision for the rest of their lives. Contact us today to get started with Practice Pals!

Advertisements

Musical Growing Pains: Should You Let Your Kid Quit Piano Lessons?

Do you ever struggle to motivate your child to work hard in their musical development? What’s that? Oh! You all do? Ok, good. For a second there I thought maybe I was alone. If your child is not enjoying music lessons right now should you let your kid quit piano lessons?

The truth is, EVERY student has gone through AT LEAST one difficult point in their musical journey. Most musicians go through MANY difficult points in their quest to be a skilled musician.

 

When your child experiences physical growing pains do you freak out and think, “Oh no! Something must be wrong! We need to stop their growth immediately!” No, you patiently wait it out while attempting to alleviate the pain. Growth is good, but pain is a natural side-effect of that growth.

 

Musical growth is no different! If your kid wants to quit piano lessons, hold off and think long and hard about this. I know those growing pains are not fun, but just like physical growing pains, unfortunately it is simply a part of the process that we parents must endure and do our best to help our kids work through the pain.

 

One of the hardest things we teachers have to witness is when students with great potential give up when the going gets rough and decides to quit piano lessons because it’s not fun right now. Every growing musician begins lessons with a honeymoon stage. The student is excited to learn, eagerly anticipates the next lesson, and usually completes all practice assignments without much, if any, struggle. Unfortunately this period can send an incorrect message to all involved: The parents feel they don’t have much responsibility or impact on their child’s musical journey. The teacher decides he has acquired the world’s perfect student who will always be excited about lessons and complete all practice assignments. And possibly worst of all, the student thinks music lessons should always be this easy.

 

There is nothing wrong with this honeymoon stage. Enjoy it! Bask in it’s greatness! Just understand that it will likely end. (I think a small number of students always maintain their excitement for learning instruments and remain dedicated to practicing. If this is your child, CONGRATULATIONS!!! This is very rare. Appreciate it!!!) For the rest of us, being prepared for what comes after the honeymoon is crucial.

 

When the honeymoon is over most students continue for a time, however if you do not have a reasonable expectation for what it takes to learn an instrument, this is when the time-clock starts. You know the clock I’m talking about? … “If Johnny doesn’t start practicing again we will quit piano lessons.” “Susie just isn’t excited about piano lessons anymore, maybe we should think about discontinuing.” You know… something like that.

 

See, here’s the thing. Learning an instrument requires discipline. Discipline isn’t something that any one of us naturally has. It is a life skill and character trait that can only be learned and acquired through experience. It is a skill/trait that our children will benefit from their entire lives in every area of their lives. If we allow our children to quit piano lessons when the going gets rough, we are denying them the opportunity to learn discipline, and actually *teaching* the habit of quitting. The point is, it’s not always going to be easy! But the end results are INVALUABLE! (Check out some of our tips for helping your kid practice here.)

 

Please believe me when I say this. Very few adults who are able to play an instrument or are trained singers regret that their parents made them stay in music lessons when they wanted to give up. In contrast, MOST adults who had the opportunity to take private lessons but were allowed to quit piano lessons when it got too hard have HUGE regrets! Sometimes we parents have to make our kids do things that are good for them, even if they don’t realize it or appreciate it. (Vegetables, anyone?)

 

The challenge with music is that it usually takes years of hard work before a student can play an instrument well. Once a certain skill level is reached, however, music becomes SUCH a gift! As an adult, music can be a wonderful therapeutic outlet. How about blessing others through community events, playing or singing at a nursing home, church, or for family gatherings? Every event is made more beautiful and enjoyable with a bit of live music.

 

Just remember: all things (worthwhile) are difficult before they are easy.

 

Keep trekking along!!! Your kids will thank you one day for the incredible gift of music! If you are new to lessons, enjoy the honeymoon phase and relish in the fact that you know what to expect in advance. If your child is one of the few who never resists practicing, do a happy dance and share the good news with us!

Benefits of Having a Music Tutor

We live in an age where unlimited information is at our fingertips. With YouTube videos, articles, and blogs galore, has the need for a music tutor disappeared? If you are considering learning an instrument, read on to discover why having a music tutor is still important.

We all know that a music tutor is a person who teaches others how to play a musical instrument. What we all may not recognize is that music tutors serve other important purposes besides simply relaying musical information.

Music tutors help the learner follow an instructional path that is known to be efficient and produce the desired results. A person can search the internet all day long for instructions and learn different tidbits here and there, but if the music education comes out of order, much confusion and educational gaps are to be expected. The trained music tutor knows how to provide important information in a structured, easy-to-understand way that involves presenting concepts in meaningful order. Think of it like this: A fence-builder can’t go out and simply begin hammering boards together. The professional fence-builder knows to first dig the post-holes, then set the posts, and then attach the cross-bars, and so on. An amateur may go out there into the backyard and put a fence together, but it will not be as stable or beautiful as if it had been created by a professional. It is likewise with music education. One can piece a music education together, but it will take much more time, there will be gaps in the “musical fence,” and the final product won’t be as stable or beautiful as if the education had been achieved through a trained professional.

The trained music tutor knows how to ensure the student’s education does not have any gaps. Music tutors know how to ongoingly assess a student’s progress and teach on subjects that are needed to progress. Many self-taught musicians figure out how to get it done, but the final product is often not as pleasurable or effective due to the fact that many steps have been unknowingly missed in the learning process. Here are some examples of how a person can learn to play on their own, contrasted with what music tutors are able to bring:

 

A self-taught musician might learn individual chords to play a song or songs.

Vs.

The music tutor will teach his students how chords are structured so the student is not limited by memorizing specific chords.

A self-taught musician will learn how to play a song by ear.

Vs.

The music tutor will teach her student theory so playing by ear becomes an easier and quicker (therefore more enjoyable) process.

A self-taught music student will hammer out a song, without giving thought to proper or most-efficient fingering. This may lead to awkward hand positions and in worst cases long-term damage such as carpal tunnel or tendinitis.

Vs.

Music tutors teach students how to achieve best fingering practices when playing their instruments. This will result smoother music, improved speed or skill, and injury-prevention.

And we could list many more examples…

Music tutors become accountability partners. It is always encouraged for people seeking to succeed at challenging endeavors to have accountability partners. The music tutor will be this to his students from the start, encouraging them to achieve their best and reach their goals. We all set goals of accomplishing things, but when life gets busy, often we fall off the horse or give up altogether. When you know you have that music lesson coming up and your teacher will know whether you practiced, that provides often much-needed motivation for you to get on your instrument and practice!

Your music tutor provides a friend/cheerleader during your musical journey. Learning an instrument is tough work! It is possible to learn an instrument on your own, but the journey is so much more enjoyable when you have a caring partner working with you to achieve your goals!

Starlight Music Lessons offers many music tutors throughout the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex. If you have been considering learning an instrument, contact us today! Our music tutors come to you so you can still learn in the comfort of your own home. Contact us today to set up a trial lesson with one of our many excellent music tutors.

 

Learn How to Play Piano

Why is it helpful and beneficial for any aspiring musician to learn how to play the piano?

kidFor the beginner, the piano is a perfect instrument for so many reasons. For one, the piano is one of the easiest instruments to quickly gain success. Piano students do not need to focus on breath support as is the case with wind instruments. Guitar students need advanced dexterity and must push past the pain and develop callouses on their fingers in order to play comfortably. Not so with the piano. String students must struggle for weeks or months to train their ears to coordinate with their fingers. In contrast, the piano has specific keys. A student doesn’t need a trained ear to learn to hit the right notes to play music. And unlike drummers, those learning the piano learn so much more than simply rhythm.

A student who wishes to learn to play the piano is able to face the piano keys while learning to play. Many instruments require the fingers to be down, facing the audience,  which is more difficult to master. A well-trained pianist will be able to play without looking at the keys, but the beginner is able to gain more immediate success by being able to see the keys they need to play.

Visually the piano is laid out in such a way to make musical concepts and theory straight-forward and much easier to understand. Many musical concepts such as scales, chords, half and whole steps, are very abstract and difficult to explain on many instruments. Concepts such as these are easy to demonstrate and for the beginner to visualize on a piano.

For these reasons those who desire to join most high school and university music programs will be required to first learn how to play the piano before they are able to continue with other musical instruments. In addition to what has been previously mentioned, playing the piano involves the use of both the treble clef and the base clef. Those who wish to compose music will find great benefit in being able to create music on the piano so they can hear all the parts together instead of waiting for each individual instrument to come together in order to hear their musical creation.

We are not saying that playing the piano is a superior skill to playing other instruments, it simply lays a wonderful foundation to enhance any musician’s skills. First learning how to play the piano enable a smooth and easy transition to any instrument. For this reason, if you are looking to ignite a life-long love of music, learning to play the piano is a fantastic place to start.

Starlight Music Lessons has wonderfully skilled and engaging teachers throughout the DFW metroplex. If you or your child would like to learn how to play the piano, our teachers would love to help you get started. We offer in-home piano lessons, as well as lessons on almost any instrument. Our teachers come to you! Click here to enroll in music lessons today! If you have questions and would like to speak with one of our office staff (who are also private music teachers) feel free to contact us.

Tips for Starting Beginner Piano Lessons

Have you finally decided to start beginner piano lessons or enroll your child in beginner piano lessons? Good for you! It is important to understand that not all piano teachers are created equal, so take care to find a teacher that is well-suited to your family. While teachers and curriculum used vary, a few things remain important, no matter the teacher or location of the lessons. As you are considering where to go for beginner piano lessons, keep the following in mind:

1.  Beginner piano lessons will typically be held once per week.

Some may wonder if this is enough time for a student to properly learn an instrument. A lesson once a week is a fantastic spacing for beginner piano lessons, as the student will need the time between the lessons in order to practice and master the skills introduced at the weekly lesson.

2.  Typically how long are weekly lessons?

You can expect your beginner piano lessons to last anywhere from 30-60 minutes each week depending on the student’s age as well as the teacher’s preference. 30 minutes per week is usually the perfect lesson time for a young beginner piano student. As the student gets older and more skilled, it is often a good idea to increase the weekly lesson length to 45-60 minutes. When considering teachers for beginner piano lessons, keep in mind that longer lesson times does not necessarily equal higher-quality teaching, and vice versa. Some teachers are able to teach more in 30 minutes than another teacher can in 60 minutes.

3. Keep in mind that the teacher is a professional.

Piano teachers are skilled professionals who have often spent a lifetime honing their skills. The majority of piano teachers started taking music lessons around the same time they started elementary school. Did you know that most piano teachers have more education on their craft than lawyers and doctors? Music is one of the few fields in higher education in which its pursuers are required to already possess extensive knowledge and skills before even stepping foot onto a college campus for that music degree. Please offer your music teachers due respect for their background and experience, understanding that they have almost a lifetime of knowledge to share.

4. Professional music teachers will have policies and procedures clearly outlined.

These policies will include what to expect regarding lesson cancellations, make-up lessons, tuition payment, etc. Beware of working with teachers or studios who do not have clearly outlined policies. If policies are not clearly stated, you may find yourself violating a policy you didn’t even know existed, only to lose money or lesson time. Starlight Music Lessons shares our policies when you enroll, and our policies are clearly explained on our website.

5. Your teacher will assign practicing to be done throughout the week.

This is the only way to make consistent progress musically, especially when the student begins working on more difficult pieces. Practicing assignments may range between 10-60 minutes per day, depending on the student’s age and skill level. If you or your child is struggling with practicing, you should seriously consider trying out our Practice Pals program! This can be a major game-changer for those with practice woes. Practice Pals is also a fantastic way for beginner piano students to develop a good foundation for learning to practicing well throughout his/her musical journey. Practice Pals actually makes practicing a fun experience!

6. No matter where you decide to take lessons (at home or in a studio) you will need a piano or keyboard in order to practice in between lessons.

 

Practice Pals

Hi Parents and Students!
We have some VERY exciting news. We are re-launching our beloved Practice Pals program with a new amazing twist. This program will be an unbelievable resource for our students, and we are offering it FREE for current Starlight customers!

Each current customer will have the opportunity to have up to three 15-minute practice sessions with a Practice Leader per week (excluding studio vacation weeks). The practice sessions are done online to maximize convenience for you!

Here’s the amazing part: These practice sessions will be on-demand(first come, first served), meaning you can schedule the sessions:

  • when you need them
  • at a time that works well for you.

We will provide a link you will use to schedule your session between 3:00-8:00 pm M-F, and some limited weekend hours. You’ll schedule each session individually, so you can book out a consistent time a few weeks in advance, or simply schedule a session when you need help.

We know practicing can be the most difficult part about becoming skilled at an instrument. As a matter of fact, lack of practice is the number one reason students quit music lessons. We teachers hate to see great talent wasted (as well as the parents’ time and money gone!) when someone decides that consistent practicing is too challenging to accomplish.

But practicing doesn’t have to be stressful for parents or students! Practicing doesn’t have to involve tears or fighting. Practicing doesn’t have to be a drain on your energy and time!  It’s Time To Have:

Fun practicing (yes, practicing can be fun!)
Efficient Practicing (make more progress in less time!)
Practicing without a fight (yes, you can enjoy stress-free practicing!)

The Practice Pals program is designed to supplement in-person lessons, not replace in-person lessons. Your in-person teacher will still introduce new concepts, teach technique and skills, select the curriculum, and do all the things a teacher usually does. Your Practice Pals Leader will follow the teacher’s practicing assignments and guide the student through the assignments in a fun and energetic way. Working with a Practice Pals Leader will:

  • Make your practice sessions more efficient so you can practice fewer days and/or progress faster.
  • Make your practice sessions fun: meaning no more fights about practicing!

Our Practice Pals leader is super friendly, encouraging, and trained in many different instruments. Her job isn’t to teach new material — that’s the job of your in-home teacher. The Practice Pals Leader is there to provide help when you are struggling with something, encourage you through your sessions, and it gives you someone to practice with — a cure for those who dislike practicing in solitude.

We are expecting to begin providing this unbelievable perk within a couple of weeks. We are so excited!

Stay tuned for the launch!

Testimonial Tuesday: Tessie

“Hi! This is Tessie…  I am still here loving my lessons.  In fact, I was kind of sad for about one minute the other day thinking, “Gee, I wish I would have done this 10 years ago.”  But then I cheered up when I realized that 10 years ago I probably wouldn’t have been able to have Martha for a teacher, so then I was happy again.  It’s great when it hits you that most things work out for the best! 10 years from now I will be AMAZING!! Thanks to Martha, I am definitely on my way to amazing.
My husband is so impressed with my progress that he bought me an awesome antique grand piano for Christmas (and plus, he’s a really nice husband who always gets me the BEST Christmas presents, boy was I surprised! It’s not easy hiding a grand piano, either).  I am a lucky girl. It is so beautiful, let me tell you.”
Wow! What a testimony! This is why we do what we do! Learning to play an instrument is truly a gift! If you would like to sign your child up for piano lessons or would like to learn an instrument yourself, click here to contact us today to get started! We have amazing teachers all over the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex just waiting to introduce you to the amazing gift of music!