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!


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.


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.


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.


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.


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!

Summer Ensemble Lessons

Besides being a fabulously fun summer activity, ensemble lessons offer an exciting growth opportunity for music students!

This summer Starlight Music Lessons is offering Ensemble Lessons!
We invite you to consider giving ensemble lessons a try! It will be a fun and valuable summer activity. This will be a summer these students will not forget!

For any musician, learning to attend to both his/her own part as well as parts played by others is an invaluable skill. Musicians benefit tremendously by learning and honing this skill. Being able to play an instrument is one thing, but knowing how to translate that knowledge into the ability to play with others is something teachers rarely have time to cover during the weekly lesson.

Click here to fill out a quick form to register for ensemble lessons.

Musically, all students GREATLY benefit from ensemble lessons!
But ensemble lessons can also PERSONALLY benefit some students in particular:

  • Kids who are social and like team activities.
  • Those who are looking for fun musical extra-curriculars for the summer.
  • Students hoping to make noticeable forward progress during the summer.
  • Those who might consider a career in music.
  • Children who are interested in making music with their family or friends.
  • A student who seems to be losing motivation with music lessons.
    • By adding the group aspect to music lessons, students will often work harder because they’re part of a “team.” Ensemble lessons are fantastic for renewing that passion!

These are the general details:
Two or more students will have ensemble lessons together, either on the same instrument or different complimentary instruments. Options will be limited by teacher availability and schedule, so if you are interested, sign up NOW so you can save a spot with the teacher before their schedule fills up! (We do not charge any registration fees.)

  • One family will be host (lessons happen at host’s house).
  • Ensemble Lessons are not a substitute for regular lesson instruction. In order to participate in ensemble lessons, the student must be taking regular weekly lessons or our summer lesson packages so he/she can work on their ensemble pieces individually with the teacher.
  • Summer Ensemble Students will purchase a package of 4 ensemble lessons to be used during the months of June through August.
    • If you want more than 4 lessons you can purchase two packages or more.
  • Ensemble Packages cost $90 per student for a 4-lesson package. Each lesson is 30-minutes long.
    • You may have to purchase sheet music for the piece your ensemble is going to work on (if it is not readily available for free online), which generally costs $10 or less per person.
  • A minimum of 2 students is needed to form an ensemble (two piano students, piano and guitar, guitar and drums, piano and voice, piano and a wind instrument … the combinations are endless!).
    • Starlight will make the ensemble matches based on students’ location and availability.

If you are interested in ensemble lessons, click here to fill out a quick form, and we will pair you with another ensemble student. Once you are paired we will schedule the lesson time, then collect payment.

Click here to enroll in private music lessons with Starlight Music lessons.

Why Participate in a Music Competition?

Competitions aren’t for everyone, but for those who are interested, participating in musical competitions can be a wonderfully exciting experience!

Here are some of the benefits of participating in a music competition:

1. The ability to see tangible results of hard work. 

     Music students put a lot of effort into improving on their instrument. Most of the time this effort remains in the practice room or at the piano. A music competition provides an opportunity for the student to take this hard work and translate it into a knockout performance. The satisfaction that comes from seeing their hard work pay off teaches the student to value hard work.

2. Improved skills in setting goals and meeting deadlines
Clearly, these skills are necessary to all parts of life. Participating in a music competition can provide a more enjoyable means to learning these skills.

3. Learning to handle pressure. 
The ability to handle pressure is a crucial life skill. Everyone must eventually learn how operate under pressure: racing heart, sweaty palms, and the nerves that come from all eyes being on me. The best way to improve this skill is to practice in a safe environment. Starlight competitions provide a safe, gentle environment to help students learn this important skill. Judges will provide constructive feedback, including praises as well as things that can be improved. And those who make mistakes will not be shamed.

4. Learning to accept criticism. 
As previously mentioned, Starlight’s judges will provide constructive feedback. This will include commendations for well-executed techniques. However, our judges will also provide input regarding areas that can use improvement. Being teachable and receiving criticism gracefully is a valuable life skill. Again, the best way to improve this skill is to practice. Allowing your child to face criticism in a safe and positive environment the best way to encourage growth in this area.

5. A positive experience that reflects well on the child’s work ethic, determination, and skills. (This will look good on a child’s applications/resumes.)
Schools, employers, and others will look favorably upon the experience of participating in music competitions. Those in leadership roles who will evaluate your child’s competency and character recognize the sort of determination, work ethic, and commitment it takes to prepare for competitions. This sort of thing looks great on applications of all sorts!

6.  Learning to cope with disappointing results.
Contrary to recitals where everyone “wins,” in competitions the number of winners must be limited. Obviously, all the students work hard to be THE winner, however, some will be disappointed by the results. This is something that must be learned how to handle well. At Starlight competitions there are no “losers.” Everyone will be presented with a participation certificate and is praised for their hard work. Much will be gained even if a student doesn’t win the overall competition. But learning how to cope with unfavorable results will help the child become a more mature, well-adjusted individual who can learn how to find joy throughout all of life’s ups and downs.

All of this being said, competitions aren’t for everyone. Some people thrive and flourish in a competitive environment, while competition can cause others to whither.

For those who will be participating in a competition, remember, work hard, prepare well, and do your best. And be proud of your performance, whether or not the outcome is what you hoped for. Simply committing to compete and doing the preparation necessary is a great accomplishment in itself! That is definitely something to be proud of!

Planning for Success: Music Lessons

We are so thrilled you have chosen to make music lessons a priority in your child’s life. We regularly talk to adults regarding music lessons, and those who can’t play always tell one of two stories:

 “I didn’t take music lessons as a kid, but now that I’m an adult I SO wish I had.”

“I took music lessons as a kid, but when I didn’t want to practice anymore my parents let me quit. I really regret that. I can’t play an instrument today and am so disappointed that I didn’t keep up the music lessons when I was a kid.”

And then there are the adults who know how to play and reap so much enjoyment from playing their instrument. These adults are forever grateful to their parents for providing this opportunity for their kids. You are THAT parent! On behalf of your child, THANK YOU! Thank you for caring so much about your child and investing in an education that will bless them for the rest of their lives!

Remember: It is normal for kids to go through slumps where they’re not “in the mood” to practice or take lessons. If you make them continue through these slumps and work with their teacher to create a strategy to work through the slump, your child will be incredibly grateful in the long run! Click here to read more about musical growing pains.

As you are working on figuring out your fall schedule, don’t forget to work in music practice. It may sound like just one more thing to worry about, but creating a plan for practice will make music lessons more productive, worthwhile, and enjoyable.

Don’t underestimate short spurts of practice. 5 minutes here 10 minutes there can really add up to increased progress.

Have a structured practice schedule.  Set aside a few minutes most days of the week for practice.  You might have great intentions of having your child practice whenever you think to remind him/her, but unless you plan for those few minutes of practice each day, it will likely get unnecessarily overlooked in the hustle of the week. Click here to read more about setting musical goals.

Even the busiest of families usually have 10 to 15 minutes a day they can designate as practice time. But unless you actually set aside time that you and your child both understand is practice time, the good intentions will often wash out the door in light of your busy schedule. Your challenge is to figure out when is the best opportunity to practice. But you can do it!

Here are some ideas:

  • Right before bed.
  • First thing in the morning.
  • During meal prep.
  • Right after mealtime.
  • During commercials.
  • First thing after school.
  • During homework time.

This is not an exhaustive list; just a few ideas. I would like to focus in on the last idea. Music is so valuable to anyone! Give it the same level of importance in your home as school. Piano practice doesn’t take very much time each day, and if you include it in homework time, it will be much easier to make sure it gets done.Success in learning a musical instrument is most dependent upon consistency. A student doesn’t have to play for hours each day to be great. It only takes a few minutes each day to make considerable progress. The consistency is what’s key.

Music practice can be used as a break between activities, or a means to earn rights such as:

  • Screen Time
    • Can be an equal swap: You get as much screen time as you practice each day. 30 minutes of practice = 30 minutes of screen time.
    • Can be a set practice time to earn screen time in general.
      • Personal note: In my home, my children can’t have screen time unless they have completed necessary activities such as chores, schoolwork, and yes, music practice.
  • Playing with Friends
    • It only takes 15 minutes to earn an afternoon of fun with friends!
  • Sports
    • Perhaps you expect your child to keep his grades up to participate in sports, but do you require that he practice regularly?
  • You may include practice in your child’s allowance requirements.
  • Staying up 15 min later. (You could say, “If you practice 15 min, you get to stay up 15 min later.”)

Here are a couple of practice charts you might be interested in printing for your child:
Monthly Practice Chart
Weekly Practice Chart

  • Practical Application:
    • Place the practice chart in a sheet protector and mark practice with a dry erase marker. Show your teacher, erase, and start again!
    • Pin the practice chart on a wall so child and parents see progress daily.

Here is something else you can print if you would like:
Extra-Curricular Activity Planners

  • Included is 3 different planner pages to choose from.
  • 1 page that can be folded into a booklet to carry in a pocket or purse
  • School week planner

Are you having trouble making practicing fun in  your home? That’s what our Practice Pals Program is for! Seriously, if you haven’t tried this out yet, this can truly be a game changer for music lessons! Contact us today to get started with Practice Pals!

Click on the image above to learn more about Practice Pals.

Have a wonderful day, and remember: make that practice plan!