Piano Recital

So, what’s so great about recitals, you may ask?

Well, first of all, a piano recital is a great way for students to showcase what they have accomplished musically. Learning an instrument is tough! Becoming skilled on an instrument takes much dedication, hard work, and often goes un-rewarded. When a student has the opportunity to walk on stage to show off what he or she has learned, the sense of pride and accomplishment the musician feels is unmatched. Seeing the smiling faces and hearing the applause from loved ones and complete strangers reignites the passion and determination it takes to become a skilled musician.

Piano recitals also play a big role in building a musician’s confidence in performing. It is so disappointing to a musician to put so much work into learning an instrument, yet be unable to share that skill with others simply because he or she is too afraid to perform for others. Starlight Music Lessons’ recitals provide a safe and supportive environment to help build a musician’s confidence in performing as he learns his instrument. She doesn’t have to worry about people laughing at her mistakes or judging her nervousness. We all understand that performing is difficult, and becoming a great performer takes practice, just like anything else. So Starlight students can feel confident to walk up on stage and do their best. Once they realize how great  it feels to perform and see the fruit of their labors, they will have more confidence in their own performing abilities. Even if a student does not aspire to be a professional musician, participating in recitals helps the student develop the confidence required to simply share music with others in small ways: playing for relatives at a reunion, singing for residents at a nursing home, bringing a smile to someone’s face by sharing a beautiful musical piece.

Piano recitals are rewarding for parents. You have spent good money on your child’s lessons. Nothing beats watching your pride and joy walk up on stage and perform. It is such a great moment when you are able to see the fruit of your own labor: paying for lessons, encouraging your child to practice, making time for the lessons. When you see your young musician on stage nailing a piece, the value of what you have been providing for your child is suddenly clear.

Along those same lines, recitals also become benchmarks for measuring the student’s progress. As a parent listening to the lessons week by week, it is easy to miss the subtle progress being made. But when you compare videos and songs from recitals, you will be amazed by the noticeable improvement in your child’s abilities from one recital to the next!

And finally, a piano recital is such a blessing to teachers. Your teacher puts so much effort and care into molding your child into a skilled musician. When we, as teachers, are able to see our students pull off those songs we and the students have been working so hard on, as teachers, our hearts swell with pride for our students! We love them dearly, and it means the world to see our students become skilled musicians.

Recitals have even more benefits, but we’ll stop there for now. We sincerely hope you will make time for a piano recital this year!

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Overcoming Performance Anxiety

Performance anxiety is a natural response to having to get up in front of others to showcase a skill. If you have a child preparing to perform? Are YOU nervous for your child? We’re going to share some tips with you regarding overcoming performance anxiety.

 

Before we get into tips for your child, lets talk about you for a moment. As your child prepares for a music recital, if you are experiencing performance anxiety on your child’s behalf, that’s perfectly normal, but what you decide to do with that anxiety can have an impact on how your child is able to handle his/her own nervousness. If you are stressed about your child performing, try to relax, at least in front of your child. Your stress is contagious, and if your child is already nervous, your stress will make it worse for him. She will pick up on your anxious cues and become anxious herself, even if she wasn’t really that nervous to begin with. And just remember: playing in a recital is a wonderful growth opportunity for your child, and even if he/she does make a mistake it’s not the end of the world. So try to enjoy the process.

 

Okay, so how can your child deal with his performance anxiety? Well, the first thing is to recognize that feeling nervous is not a bad thing! Most performers (even professional) get jitters before they go on stage. These jitters are from adrenalin rushing through our bodies. Musicians need to learn how to harness this adrenalin and use it to their advantage to power their performance with confidence, passion, and power. This adrenalin is a signal to the brain that it needs to “turn on” and work with excellence.

Here are a few tips to gain control over performance anxiety:

  1. Think positively. Don’t focus on what you might do wrong. Set goals for yourself, and repeat these goals to yourself. For example the student can say to himself, “I am going to play wonderfully.” Or “I will be calm and confident and give a fantastic performance.”
    • Don’t focus on negatives or timid thinking such as, “I hope I don’t mess up.” Or “I won’t forget my songs.” Make sure the thoughts stay positive, focusing on what you WILL do as opposed to what you WON’T do or HOPE you will or won’t do.
  2. Breathe! When we are scared we start breathing quickly. Focusing on taking deep breaths and slowing down the breathing will effectively help relax the body and mind.
  3. Rehearse. Obviously we all know practicing the songs is very important, but also important is actually rehearsing. Make sure to run through the performance routine many times in the weeks leading up to the recital. If the student goes through the motions enough times it will become second nature to her. Stress often comes from the fear of the unknown, or unanswered questions. As I was developing my music abilities, much of my stress before performances came from not knowing how things would play out. When do I bow? When will I walk on stage? Will I be in the audience or backstage, etc. I knew the music very well, but not being confident in all the other little things can shake a person’s confidence. So, rehearse many times so you don’t have to worry about the little extras. Click here to read Starlight’s Recital Preparation Tips.
  4. Visualize. Imagine (with a positive attitude) what it will be like to walk on stage. Imagine yourself playing the song perfectly. Visualize how pleased the audience will be. Hear the applause in your head. Smile! See yourself stand up and take a bow. Imagine the satisfaction and victory you will feel by working so hard and performing well.  
  5. On the day of the recital, relax. Get a good night’s sleep the day before, eat nutritiously, and relax. Try to allow extra time to get ready so you’re not rushing around. If the performer is stressed about other things, that will carry over into their feelings about performing.
    • Note on nutrition: parents, be mindful of the food you’re feeding your children on the day of the recital. It might sound fun to make a special breakfast or lunch loaded with white flour and sugar, but be mindful that sugar, white flour, caffeine, etc. will make the child feel more anxious leading up to the performance. It will truly help them if you feed them proteins, vegetables, and good fats.

Well, there you have it, hopefully some of these tips will help your child harness the adrenalin rush that comes from getting up on stage instead of experiencing performance anxiety. At the end of the day, focus as much as possible on making the performance fun and enjoyable!

It’s Your Turn to Shine! Music Lessons for Adults

You know, we don’t only offer music lessons for kids; we also offer music lessons for adults. Many adults take music lessons, and so can you! If you have children taking music lessons, you already have a teacher coming to your home, so why not go ahead and take lessons yourself?

Music teachers repeatedly hear people reminiscing about their musical experiences:

    “I always wanted to play an instrument when I was a child, and I never got to.”

    “My parents made me take piano lessons when I was a kid, but I never practiced so they let me quit. Now I really regret that.”

    “I’d love to have a grand piano in my house, but I don’t know how to play.”

    “I used to play the clarinet in high school and I really loved it.”

 

Do you find yourself wishing you could express yourself through music? Maybe you would like to be able to enjoy playing music as a family. How about giving back to the community musically? Playing at nursing homes, joining the church worship team… Or maybe you would simply love to be able to sit down and play something beautiful for yourself. Did you once know how to play but have let your skills fall by the wayside in the busyness of life? You don’t have to let musical skill simply be a dream or a thing of the past! You can learn as an adult!

 

As a matter of fact, learning music might even be easier for you now that you are older!

 

If you would like to learn more about some of the benefits of learning an instrument as an adult, as well as some of the pitfalls to avoid, you can read more here. If you would simply like to talk to someone about possibly starting music lessons for adults, click here to contact Starlight Music Lessons.

 

We would be so thrilled to help you do something for yourself. Maybe it’s time for you to take a risk! If you’ve been toying with the idea of learning an instrument, give it a shot! We would love to work with you to help your dream become a reality! Give music lessons for adults a shot!

How to Motivate a Kid to Practice Piano

It’s amazing what a difference having goals to work toward can make, no matter what the area of life. You set goals for yourself, right? Business goals, fitness goals, spiritual, financial, family goals, etc. Music education is no different. Goals are so valuable in keeping music students motivated and excited about their education. Do you or your child have musical goals to work toward? Here are some ideas that might help motivate your kid to practice piano:

  • Participate in Starlight’s recitals!
  • Schedule family recitals for your child throughout the year. Invite grandparents, cousins, uncles and aunts, and family friends. Have your child put on a mini-performance.
  • Set a goal date in which your child successfully completes his book. (This one’s a larger goal, you might want to break it up into smaller goals for accomplishing specific songs in a certain amount of time.) You can speak with your child’s teacher to figure out what reasonable goals might look like.
  • For every 30 minutes of practice the child gets 30 minutes of tv/video game/computer time.
  • If the child practices for the agreed upon time each week they get special time with mom or dad. (Making cookies, go on a special walk, play a board game, etc.)
  • Here’s an idea that can help students visually see their effort: Place two jars on the piano, one with beads (or rocks, pennies, marbles, etc.) and one is empty. Every day the student practices he/she can move one bead from the full jar to the empty one. Once the jar is full the child gets a special prize. This may or may not cost money, depending on your family goals. Maybe your child can get a special toy or movie when the jar is full. Maybe you can have a special family day out. Maybe the reward can be a lazy Saturday: movies and games all day long!

Be creative, and don’t be afraid to get your child involved in the brainstorming process! Encourage their piano practice to be a fun activity that they look forward to every day!

But DON’T

  • Use their piano practice as a punishment. This will create a negative association with music, and they will likely lose interest in learning music altogether.
  • Don’t ridicule or make fun of mistakes your child makes. Learning an instrument is challenging, and they WILL make mistakes! Regularly! If they feel shame or embarrassment for those mistakes they will lose heart.
  • Don’t force your child to perform in front of family and friends if they don’t want to.
  • Don’t apologize to others about your child’s weak/flawed performance. They are doing their best, and they will grow the best in a supportive and nurturing environment. Children who fear ridicule or shame will often just give up.

You can do it! Music lessons are invaluable, so don’t give up. Take some of these ideas in order to motivate your kid to practice piano.

 

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!

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.