100 ways to be the perfect piano parents

25 Tips for Supporting Your Young Musician [Infographic]

100 ways to be the perfect piano parents

Parents, wondering how to best show your support as your child starts music lessons? Read on for a round-up of the best tips from piano teacher Rhonda B., plus a few other prominent piano bloggers…


So you’ve enrolled your child in piano lessons. End of story, right? No. Learning this challenging instrument — or any instrument, at that — will require a long-term commitment of at least a few years. It takes teamwork to make it happen.

My student Mallory’s mother, Christy, understands this. A couple of months ago, she asked for a consultation during lesson time, and explained her concerns that her 13-year-old daughter seemed to be losing interest in lessons. The three of us agreed to concentrate on making practice times consistent and holding Mallory more accountable. Mom, student, and teacher cooperated toward a mutual goal.

Since the consultation, Mallory’s practicing has improved 100%. This helps her to enjoy lessons and to progress more quickly. She recently nailed her assignment piece, a rendition of “Maple Leaf Rag.” Sweet success! And it happened because a concerned mom walked the extra mile to lend a hand to her struggling daughter.

Kids need their parents’ assistance, encouragement, understanding, and occasional firmness to help them master their music assignments and progress. This is especially true of young beginners — ages 5 to 7 — but also for students of all ages. Mom and Dad can help even if their knowledge of music is practically zero.

You, too, can achieve the status of a perfect piano parent. Here are 25 suggestions for helping kids learn piano and showing your support.

Piano Parents Tips: Show Your Support in Lessons

Is your child nervous about taking lessons? That’s normal! Ensure a smooth start with these tips…

Start at the right time. Consider if your child is really ready for piano lessons. Although some teachers will take students at very early ages, there are general guidelines for the best age to start piano lessons.

Don’t choose a teacher they don’t relate to. If your child doesn’t like his or her music teacher, this may reflect negatively on the experience. If your child is complaining about their teacher, ask them to share what they don’t like about them. Listen without trying to convince them differently. (via The Child Whisperer)

Stay in close touch with teachers. Keep your instructors informed of what’s happening at home. They can adjust their expectations, change the music, revise the lesson format, switch to better times or days, and more.

See if you can get involved. Check with your teacher to see if he or she suggests sitting in on the lessons — this works for some kids, but not for all.

Consider taking piano lessons at the same time. Be a terrific role model by practicing what you preach, and show your children that you are as human as they are when it comes to making mistakes. Bonus: Playing duets together can be a great way to bond!

Piano Parents Tips: Show Your Support at Home

Helping kids learn piano begins with a supportive home environment! Here are some tips…

Ask questions about what your child is working on. Listen to some of the assigned composers’ music on YouTube together. My student Aiden’s mom helped him find a ragtime version of “Everything Is Awesome”… which got her son really excited about the song.

Make sure your child has the right resources & books. Talk to your child’s teacher and ask about getting a theory book to accompany the lesson book. There’s a good chance that your teacher will suggest one to begin with. If not, ask for one. (via KeytarHQ)

Encourage other family members to applaud your child’s efforts. Positive attention is a great motivator. (via FamilyEducation)

Listen to music at home and in the car. It really doesn’t matter what you listen to – rock, country, classical, pop, or indie – what matters is that you let your kids see you bebopping along to it. Encourage singing and dancing as much as possible!

Head off burn-out. Kids may need to push through a tough stage, but at other times, a reward can help. For my student Matthew’s outstanding lesson last week, for example, his mother treated him to Dunkin’ Donuts.

Realize that it’s a process. There usually isn’t fast progress, but if students consistently practice, they will see wonderful results over time. This really is a case where slow and steady wins the race. (via Laura, Laura’s Music Studio)

Be especially supportive when they have a bad day. Music lessons are hard and get harder every week. While your child may be picking up their lessons at a fast pace, they won’t always. There will come days when your child has a tough time learning something and gets frustrated. Explain everyone has a tough day or two from time to time and to be patient. Help them through it. (via Piano Wizard Academy)

If there’s a growing attitude problem, try to identify the heart of the issue.
Does Kaitlyn really hate the piano, or is she frustrated because she can’t seem to master the B section of “Musette”? What’s the real issue?

Be wary of unrealistic expectations. People often vastly underestimate how difficult music can be. It’s best to have as few expectations as possible, and take every development as a gift when it comes. (via The Wise Serpent)

Don’t ‘help’ in ways the teacher hasn’t asked you to. For example, don’t write the names of the notes in the music for your child. (via Elissa Milne – from her article 15 Things You Need to Know About Supporting Your Child Learning to Play the Piano)

Encourage your kids to compose their own songs! Being creative in this way is not only fun, it instills deeper music intelligence, fosters general life skills, and increase self-confidence.

Piano Parents Tips: Handling Practice Time

Not sure how to motivate your child to practice? Here’s what you need to know…

Set up the right environment for practice. Make sure your kids are practicing in a comfortable place, with all the supplies they need. Here’s a great resource from AMP (the National Association of Music Parents).

Establish a practice routine. Explain that practicing is non-negotiable… like completing math homework or eating vegetables or tackling chores. Make it doable by insisting on regular practice times when students are rested and alert.

Consider using the phrase “playing time” rather than “practice time.” (via FamilyEducation)

Establish daily musical goals. For example, instead of saying that 30 minutes of practice is enough regardless of what is achieved, you might say, “Today the goal of practicing is to play the first eight measures of your piece without any mistakes.” (via PBS Parents)

Game-ify your child’s practice, such as with the ideas in this article from NPR.

Piano Parents Tips: Show Your Support at Recitals

Piano recitals are the perfect opportunity for your child to show off what he or she has learned! Increase your child’s confidence with these tips…

Take advantage of performances. Nothing motivates student practicing like preparing to play publicly, whether it’s a formal studio recital, sharing a piece in music class at school, or jamming with the church’s youth band.

Encourage the whole family to attend! Fill the crowd with friendly faces to fend off nerves and make your child feel especially excited about performing.

Prepare your child for mistakes before the recital. Tell a funny story about a time when you flubbed something or suffered a pratfall. Make light in advance of any looming catastrophe. Make it clear that a mistake is “no big deal.” (via The Happy Piano Professor)

Verbalize your support. All students wonder sometimes: is all their practicing worthwhile? Does anybody care about it? Are they sounding better than they did a year ago? A thoughtful, positive comment from a parent can help them persevere.

20+ Tips for Parents How to Support Your Young Musician

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Learning to play a musical instrument, especially one as difficult as piano, requires teamwork. Students learn and practice. Instructors teach, guide, and gently prod toward excellence. Moms and dads enforce practicing, support the instruction, and stay attuned to their children’s struggles and victories. Together they form a win/win/win team, thanks in part to the perfect piano parent’s involvement.

Want more tips? Check out Anthony Mazzocchi’s book, The Music Parents’ Guide: A Survival Kit for the New Music Parent.

Teachers and parents, what other tips would you recommend for helping kids learn piano? Let us know in the comments!


Rhonda Barfield has taught piano for 20+ years in two piano schools and now at her home studio. She has a B.A. in Music Education from Culver-Stockton College, and studied post-graduate piano with instructors at Truman State University. Rhonda operates Listening House Studios in St. Charles, Missouri with her son and business partner Eric. Book lessons here!

Photo by Michael Cisneros

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40+ Fun (and Easy!) Music Crafts & Activities for Kids

40+ Fun (and Easy!) Music Crafts & Activities for Kids

40+ Fun (and Easy!) Music Crafts & Activities for Kids

Looking for easy crafts for kids? If your child loves music, you’ve come to the right place. Below, we’ve complied a list of our favorite music activities and easy, DIY musical crafts your family will love to create.

You’ll find a link to the original post with instructions, as well as the level of difficultly, ranging from music activities your preschooler can do to more advanced, adults-only projects to decorate your home. Enjoy!

Musical Crafts for Kids

These crafts are perfect for kids, from DIY music-makers to fun decorations!

1. Recycled Outdoor Music Station via My Nearest and Dearest
Recycle cans and mason jars for fun outdoor play!
Level: Moderate

2. Homemade Kids Drums via A School of Fish
Let the kids make and decorate their own drums for a marching band.
Level: Very Easy

3. Fancy Shaker Eggs via Mama Smiles
Plastic eggs filled with various items create noisemakers for little hands.
Level: Very Easy

4. Cardboard Guitar via Makedo
Channel your favorite rockstar with this DIY guitar!
Level: Moderate

5. PVC Pipe Xylophone via Frugal Fun for Boys
This large-scaled xylophone requires some space, but is a super fun instrument to play around with!
Level: Skilled

musical crafts - pvc instrument

6. Cardboard Castanets via Whimsy Love
Cardboard and buttons make a child-sized castanet.
Level: Easy

7. Tin Can Howler via Housing a Forest
All you need is a string and a tin can for this fun howler.
Level: Easy

8. Easy Trumpet Craft via Preschool Crafts for Kids
Practice your best marching band steps with this easy DIY trumpet!
Level: Easy

9. African Drums via DLTK Crafts for Kids
Practice rhythm with these easy to make and fun to design African drums.
Level: Easy

10. DIY Masquerade Mask via Circle City Creations
Stretch your artistic side with these decorated masks.
Level: Skilled

musical crafts - masquerade mask

11. Rainbow Xylophone via And Next Comes L
Wood, window casings, and paint create a giant rainbow xylophone.
Level: Skilled

12. Do Re Mi Bottle via Life with Moore Babies
Discover different pitches with this colored water craft.
Level: Easy

13. Painted Stick Instrument via Twodaloo
Natural materials and craft supplies combine to make a unique instrument from ancient times.
Level: Easy

14. Rain Stick via Frogs Snails and Puppy Dog Tails
A mailing tube combined with a few other items create the sound of rain.
Level: Moderate

15. Shaker Toys via The Educators’ Spin On It
Use a variety of containers and ingredients to explore different sounds.
Level: Easy

musical crafts - music shakers

16. Homemade Kazoo via Buggy and Buddy
Common kitchen items come together to create a DIY kazoo.
Level: Easy

17. Corn Shakers via Sow Sprout Play
This is a great project for sensory play and teaching rhythm.
Level: Easy

18. Popsicle Stick and Paper Plate Kalimba via Kodaly and Orff Music Teacher’s blog
This is a fun, unique instrument your kids have probably never heard before.
Level: Easy

19. Pin Strummers via Pi’ikea Street
Use bobby pins to create boings, pops, and other sounds!
Level: Easy

20. Homemade Trumpet via All Done Monkey
All you need is cardboard tubes, poster board, and decorating materials for this easy craft.
Level: Easy

musical crafts - DIY trumpet

21. Jingle Bells via Chasing Cheerios
Tiny bells and a cardboard tube create a fun shake stick – perfect for around the holidays!
Level: Easy

22. Homemade French Horn via Savvy Homemade
Everyday items come together to make a fun French horn.
Level: Easy

23. Noisemaker via Ganz World
Easy-to-make noisemakers perfect for New Years.
Level: Easy

24. Wind Pipe Instrument via Laughing Kids Learn
This is a simple wind pipe that children can make in just a few minutes.
Level: Easy

25. Paper Plate Tambourine via SheKnows
Simple items make fun tambourines!
Level: Easy

musical crafts - paper plate tambourine

26. Homemade Harmonica via Mess for Less
Popsicle sticks, paper, and rubber bands create a DIY harmonica.
Level: Easy

27. Homemade Wind Chimes via Hands On As We Grow
Tin can that are decorated then assembled into custom wind chimes.
Level: Moderate

Crafts for Music-Loving Families

Want to spruce up your home with some more advanced crafts and DIY projects? Here are our favorite Pinterest-worthy ideas: 

1. Sheet Music Candles via Can’t Stop Making Things
Learn how to make Pottery Barn lookalike candles with sheet music.
Level: Moderate

2. Guitar Shelf via Budget Girl
Make unique shelves for trinkets from an old or broken guitar.
Level: Skilled

3. Custom Envelopes via (Never) Homemaker
Create your own crafty envelopes from sheet music.
Level: Easy

4. Broken Record Ombre Wall Art via Tattooed Martha
Turn old vinyl records into amazing décor your guests will love!
Level: Moderate

musical crafts - broken record wall art

5. Vinyl Record Bookends via Treetrunkwise
Keep your bookshelf organized with these DIY bookends made from old records.
Level: Easy

6. Vintage Record Dessert Stand via Bubby & Bean
Showcase your cupcakes or desserts with this adorable stand.
Level: Easy

7. Music Box Ornament via Craft Snob, guest post from SaltTree
Surprise! This cool glitter ornament is actually a wind-up musical box!
Level: Moderate

8. Sheet Music Coffee Table via A Diamond In the Stuff
Spruce up your coffee table with sheet music!
Level: Easy

9. PVC Flute via the Widget Forge
Break out your toolbox and create your very own DIY flute.
Level: Skilled

10. Sheet Music Coasters via An Oregon Cottage
Use old sheet music to create unique drink coasters!
Level: Moderate

musical crafts - sheet music coasters

11. Record Album Cover Box Tutorial via Zombies Wearing Helmets
Stash items and keep your space organized with this retro-looking storage box made from old record covers.
Level: Moderate

12. Sheet Music Dresser via Miss Mustard Seed
Learn how to decoupage a dresser with sheet music here.
Level: Easy

13. Sheet Music Gift Bags via Eclectically Vintage
Make gift bags from sheet music for a special gift!
Level: Moderate

14. DIY Vinyl Record Table via The Flourishing Abode
Save money by making your own accent table made out of old vinyl records.
Level: Easy

musical crafts - record side table

15. Sheet Music Monograms via The Country Chic Cottage
Yet another sheet music craft idea to spruce up any room.
Level: Easy

16. Paper Roses via Capitol Romance
Transform sheet music into paper roses with a vintage look.
Level: Moderate

17. Lined Jewelry Box via Crafting a Green World
Spruce up an old jewelry box by lining it with sheet music.
Level: Easy

18. Sheet Music Shoe via Tales of a Trophy Wife
Cover your shoes in sheet music for a unique look.
Level: Easy

19. Sheet Music Star Decorations via Sweet Something Designs
These make great decorations for the holidays!
Level: Easy

musical crafts - sheet music ornament

20. Music Themed Door Wreath via Reloved Rubbish
Use old sheet music to make a stunning wreath.
Level: Moderate

21. Mosaic Bird Bath made from CDs via Me and My DIY
Repurpose old CDs to give your bird bath a cool mosaic look!
Level: Moderate

22. DIY Candle Holder via Lots of DIY
Grab some old CDs and marbles to make stunning candle holders.
Level: Easy

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Take a Break, Moms! Quick and Easy Ways to Pamper Yourself

Take a Break, Moms! Quick & Easy Ways to Pamper Yourself

Take a Break, Moms! Quick and Easy Ways to Pamper Yourself

Let’s face it. If you’re a mom, you live a busy life. Keeping up with family or professional commitments can be exhausting, and many moms feel like they have little time to spend on themselves.

However, sneaking in the chance to treat yourself during your daily routine is both easy and important to do, because it can have a strong impact on your overall happiness and health. Check out these fun little ways to pamper yourself, whether you have five minutes to spare or 20.


With five minutes to spare…


If you’re a coffee or tea drinker, change up your usual beverage. Making it a habit to stop by the coffee shop day after day can be a serious drain on your budget. Pamper yourself at home and save those few hundred dollars (we’re serious, Money Saving Mom did the math), and make your own concoction before leaving the house.

Put it into practice: Test out Mother Would Know’s handy “Coffee on the Cheap” recipe.


Looking through family photos is a proven secret to happiness! A 2006 study showed that participants who spent time viewing their favorite photos felt their spirits lift by 11%, whereas those “who tried to eat, listen, watch, or drink their way to happiness” reported only a marginal increase in their mood. So, crack open those old yearbooks, or sift through your Facebook photos from last year’s vacation. You’ll be happier once you do!

Put it into practice: Check out Lisa Moorefield’s list of 12 useful iPad or iPhone apps to touch up your digital photos.

Pamper Yourself - Banners (1)

Regularly incorporating fruits and vegetables into your diet is a great way to keep yourself healthy and happy. In fact, a recent study shows that focus groups that regularly ate their fruits and veggies reported a higher level of happiness.

Put it into practice: Not everyone has time to make a big salad before they head out for the day, and grabbing something on the go can be expensive. So if you’re curious about how to pamper yourself on a budget, try making a nutritious, filling smoothie you can sip on during your commute. Little Family Adventure compiled a great list of five easy green smoothie recipes you can make at home. The HappyGal also has some fun ideas for yummy recipes with raspberries.


With 10 minutes to spare…


Find a craft you enjoy that you can take on the go. Not only do handmade crafts make great gifts for loved ones, crafty habits have positive health effects, too! For example, knitting can actually improve your long-term health by helping to prevent arthritis and tendinitis. If knitting isn’t your thing, search around for another type of craft that suits your fancy.

Put it into practice: If you’re a beginner knitter, LoveKnitting has some great suggestions for quick and simple projects that can help get you on your way!


According to YES! Magazine, a study by psychologist Sonja Lyubomirsky proved that “participants who took time to ‘savor’ ordinary events that they normally hurried through” were generally happier. So, be sure to take a moment out of your day to truly enjoy your surroundings and the little moments that make up your day.

Put it into practice: To add this habit to your daily life, check out Claire Charters’s blog Simple Luxe Living. She has a lot of great e-courses that are fun and easy to follow along.


We all know that a good chat with friends or family members can have a positive impact on our day. The Mayo Clinic reports that maintaining a strong social support system is a crucial way to build self-confidence and get through times of stress. Even a quick phone call or coffee run with a loved one is as beneficial as formal or lengthy meetings.

Put it into practice: For more ideas on how to keep up with your family, check out this Huffington Post article, which walks you through how to keep up long-distance friendships.


Pamper yourself by adding a bit of lavender to your life! Lavender has many healing and calming effects, including its ability to soothe skin, ease sleep, and ward off stress.

Put it into practice: Add a few drops of lavender essential oil to your temples to derail a headache. When you have extra time at home, get sore muscle relief by adding it to a bath.


With 20 minutes to spare…


When you’re in the middle of a crazy day, it can be tough to squeeze in the time to make yourself a priority. But remembering to look after yourself is important, and according to Psychology Today, even simple acts of personal care can boost your mood and self-esteem.

Put it into practice: Nothing says “pamper me” quite like a fresh coat of polish! For a quick, inexpensive way to treat yourself well, experiment with a new manicure technique!


Even during the busiest moments of your day, it’s always a good idea to take some time to repeat a quote or mantra to yourself. Sometimes, taking a deep breath and repeating an inspirational line several times over can be the key to having a more enjoyable, productive day.

Put it into practice: Check out HighExistence’s “15 Mind-Expanding Mantras” to find a source of inspiration.


Pampering yourself takes many forms, and lifting weights isn’t just about improving your physical strength. A regular weightlifting exercise routine can help your emotional health, too. Keep a couple of five pound weights at home and in the office to get in a few reps during moments of downtime.

Put it into practice: You can also use your own body as weights, says celebrity fitness trainer Brett Hoebel. He put together a video and slideshow of step-by-step instructions for exercise routines you can do in between your daily commitments.


Bonus! When you have an hour to spare…

Having an extra hour in your schedule can be rare, but when you do, take advantage of the free time! Here are some pampering ideas to try when you have at least an hour to spare during your day…


Keep yourself healthy with some yoga poses…even while on the go! Yoga has many incredible health benefits, from improving your posture to helping you get a better night’s rest.

Put it into practice: If you’re new to yoga, check out Skinny Mom’s guide to beginner yoga poses.


Participating in a book club is a great way to motivate and pamper yourself to take time out of your day to read a book and relax. Even if you’re on the go, get the audio version and listen to it in your car. Here are some popular book suggestions that you can recommend to your own club.

Put it into practice: Check out to find book-clubbers near you!


Taking lessons isn’t just for kids. If you regularly have an extra hour available during your week, why not fill that time by learning a new skill? For example, learning the piano – or any other instrument for that matter – has many unexpected benefits, including learning how to handle stress and face constructive criticism from others. So, whether you want to play the guitar, cook French cuisine, or brush up on Japanese, go ahead and take that leap!

Put it into practice: Pamper yourself at home by taking lessons online! With smartphone or tablet in hand, taking lessons is as easy as logging on to your preferred video platform to meet with your teacher.


Feeling inspired? We hope so! Remember that pampering yourself isn’t a guilty pleasure, it’s a necessary one. Even during your family’s busy schedule, finding the time to spend some attention on yourself is an important way to keep healthy, happy, and motivated. It will help you continue to be the superhero that you are.

So, remember:

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Back to School Post

14 Hilarious Signs Your Family is Ready to Go Back to School

Summer is known as the season for sunbathing, extended vacations, and lounging at the pool. If you’re a parent, it also means that you’ll probably have some extra time to spend with your kids while they’re home for summer break.

However, as much as you and your family have enjoyed your summertime activities, there are certain signs that both you and your kids are officially ready for summer to end and school to start up again…

1. You’ve already cashed in on some of those back-to-school sales coupons.

2. And your kids have started to wear their cute back-to-school outfits.

3. They couldn’t contain their excitement when they got into the same class as their best friend.

4. …or their disappointment when they didn’t.

5. You’re still having a hard time remembering the names of their friends who spent many summer afternoons at your house.

6. …who may or may not have broken one of your favorite pieces from Pottery Barn.

7. Your kids are getting a little bit restless when back-to-school shopping.

8. And you’re tired of watching reruns of their favorite TV shows.

9. Even your family pet is looking to find some peace and quiet from the hectic summer activities.

10. You’ve planned out all of their lunches for the first two months of school.

11. And you’ve already practiced your morning routine so that your kids will never be late.

12. You daydream about having some more time to yourself when your kids go back to school.

13. …so you can get back into your “usual” routine.

14. But although you know your kids will rock this school year…

15. As soon as you drop them off on their first day back, you’re ready to start summer all over again.

So there you have it. If you and your family have started to experience some of these things, then you know that you are all ready for back-to-school season with some new adventures to come.

Kids grow up fast, and the moments spent together as a family — shopping for school supplies and picking out cute back-to-school outfits — can seem to go by in a blur. Enjoy every minute of it!

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3 Summer Activities And How They Help Your Child Grow (Piano)

3 (Fun!) Summer Activities That Help Your Child Grow [Infographic]

fun summer activities for kids

Summer is here! With school out and the temperatures rising, no doubt your kids are excited to play. But beyond the summer camps, sleepovers, bike rides, and water balloon fights, stealthy parents know how to encourage activities that can actually help kids grow and learn!

Don’t worry — that doesn’t mean workbooks or summer homework. We’ve got three fun summer activities in mind that kids will be excited to participate in, and ones that will build confidence at the same time.

  • First up? Music lessons! If your son or daughter loves to sing along to songs when you turn on the radio, music lessons are a natural fit. And there are so many different lesson types to consider, from piano to guitar to saxophone.
  • For the more introverted or bookworm types, learning a language — like Spanish or French — might be a great choice. Of course, your child won’t become fluent over the course of one summer… but it can be a fun introduction to new cultures! Plus, it’s easy to find fun games and apps that support language learning.
  • Finally, if your child can’t stop moving, sports like soccer and softball are a great way to keep him or her busy. They’ll never know they’re actually improving their teamwork and goal-setting skills!

Here’s a recap of all the surprising stats you need to know about these fun summer activities for kids.

3 Fun Summer Activities That Help Your Child Grow [Infographic]

Whether your child is athletic, musically inclined, or interested in learning another language, summer is the perfect time to enroll them in classes and nurture a new hobby. And knowing your son or daughter is also growing and learning, you can sit back and relax this summer — just as the season was intended for.

Ready to get started? Search for fun summer activities, classes, and lessons near you!

Photos by Philippe PutDark Dwarf, and l. c.


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5 Excellent Goals for Kids’ Music Lessons | A Guide for Parents & Teachers


As teachers, what should you keep in mind as you create music lesson plans for kids? And as parents, how should we be encouraging our children as they’re taking lessons? Here, Brooklyn, NY teacher Julie P. shares her ideas…


Music lessons are a great opportunity for any child, no matter what their musical goals are. In fact, goals for music lessons don’t have to be entirely musical. Most children who take music lessons will not grow up to be professional musicians, so it’s great to focus on some of the big picture skills when investing time and money into lessons. When it comes to music lesson plans for kids, here are five great goals for parents and teachers alike to keep in mind:

1. Enjoy Playing and Making Music

This most important goal for any child’s music lessons is for the child to have fun. Yes, there is a fair amount of hard work that goes into creating music lesson plans for kids, but if the student isn’t enjoying the process, then he or she probably won’t continue to play music for very long. Every student is different and not all students will enjoy the same music or teaching styles. Parents, if your child isn’t having fun learning to play music, consider approaching your teacher about it to come up with some ways to engage your child better. This might include the student composing his or her own songs, performing duets with other students, or learning a pop song.

2. Improve Listening Skills

Learning how to play an instrument is a long and challenging process that requires the ability to take directions and follow them accurately. In music there are many rules and parameters governing the skills being acquired, all of which will be new to the student. Teachers help students acquire the necessary skills using appropriate music lesson plans, including exercises and practice techniques that help the student approach the new skills from multiple angles. This is a great opportunity to hone listening skills, as the students will need to listen carefully to the teacher’s directions and examples in order to progress.

3. Develop Perseverance

Kids who take music lessons have an opportunity to develop perseverance. Not only are kids challenged to maintain a consistent practice schedule, but they will also come across skills that are difficult for them to grasp. Children who learn how to keep working on those skills even when it gets difficult will carry those perseverance skills into all other areas of life.

4. Develop Confidence

Studying music is a great way for kids to increase their confidence. Kids are often proud of the new musical skills they develop, especially when they’ve worked hard for a certain skill. They learn that the key to developing confidence is careful and thorough preparation. There are many performance opportunities available, from band and orchestra concerts to recitals and community concerts, such as at nursing homes or places of worship. Kids also have weekly opportunities at lessons to perform for their teacher in a low-stress environment. Some kids who study music are hesitant to perform in front of people, but there are many group performance opportunities than can bolster their confidence, even if they choose to not perform a solo.

5. Develop an Appreciation for Music

Music will continue to be a part of kids’ lives as they grow up, even if they don’t continue with music lessons. If they learn to appreciate different kinds of music they will end up as a supportive member of the musical community. Many adults who took music lessons when they were young find great enjoyment in going to concerts of all genres (classical, folk, rock, blues, etc.). Often I will hear them say that they appreciate the work the musicians put into their craft, having experienced when they were young the kind of hard work it took to learn an instrument. Kids who develop this appreciation through music lessons will open up many doors for enjoying music in the future.

There are many benefits to music lessons, and many different goals to pursue. These are five great goals for kids’ music lessons that will benefit children for the rest of their lives. If you’d like your child to start taking music lessons, find a TakeLessons teacher near you here!

JuliePJulie P. teaches flute, clarinet, music theory, and saxophone lessons in Brooklyn, NY. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Music Education from Ithaca College and her Masters in Music Performance from New Jersey City University. Learn more about Julie here!



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6 Things You Can Do to Support Your Young Composer | Tips for Parents


Do you catch your son or daughter making up songs during the day? Learn how to encourage your little one in this guest post from New York, New York teacher Natalie L...


Imagine if students were taught to read and speak but not write. What if they were taught literature and the alphabet, but never applied this knowledge to formulate original thoughts? As ludicrous as this seems, it is common practice in most music programs where students are instructed in reading, listening, and playing music but not in composing music.

However, composition can be taught to children.

Most young children are creative and musical by nature, which is evident in their love of nursery rhymes, sing-a-longs, musical toys, and vivid make-believe worlds. In addition, composition:

  • Instills deeper music intelligence beyond simply listening to music or playing an instrument.
  • Fosters general life skills, such as problem-solving and decision-making. This includes thinking in and about sound, exploring sounds, and generating, testing, and selecting ideas.
  • Imparts self-esteem. Composing music that students can then listen to, download to their cell phone, and play for their friends is a unique and powerful experience.

Want to help? As a parent, here are six things you can do to support your young composer:

1. Expose them to a lot of music
Providing children with a musical environment at home is very important, as they will most likely start to compose by mimicking the music they hear around them. Play the radio in the car, let them watch cartoons with music, sing children’s songs with them, take them to a musical now and then, and have some Mozart playing in the background while you’re cooking. They will absorb it all.

2. Introduce them to a musical instrument
Composing music is a lot easier when you have an instrument to compose on. The most common instrument for composition is piano, because you can play melody and accompaniment at the same time. Guitar is another popular option.

Playing an instrument also helps children learn musical theory and note-reading, which will ultimately make them better musicians and more confident composers. Even getting a small keyboard and letting them play around on it can be very helpful in encouraging musical exploration.

3. Focus on telling a story
Composing can be very abstract. To make things a little more concrete, focus on telling a story with music.

Ask them what sounds remind them of specific emotions and images. For example, holding down the pedal on the piano will have a “dreamy” effect, while playing staccato notes on very high keys might sounds like a little bird. Going down by half steps might be someone walking down the stairs.

Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf is a wonderful example of personifying music, so I would suggest listening to this piece together as a start.

4. Don’t censor them
When your child first sets out to write music, don’t worry about her being the next Mozart. The piece she writes might be completely non-sensical, with no clear structure or hook — and starting out that way is fine. Her first drawings were probably messy blobs, but you still proudly displayed them on the refrigerator. Think of early compositions in the same way.

5. Create a tangible representation of the composition
There is nothing as powerful to students as having a tangible representation of their work. Because musical notation is a relatively advanced skill, don’t worry about having them write their music down yet.

You could record their piece on a CD and display it with the rest of your CD collection. Or they could draw a picture of their piece if it tells a story or make an abstract finger painting. And don’t forget to give it a title! This is one of the most fun parts for them and makes them feel the piece is real.

6. Consider private composition lessons
Once your child shows interest and aptitude for composing music, enrolling him in private composition lessons will help him grow. A teacher trained in music composition can give young composers direction, instruct them on harmony and form, get them to think more abstractly, encourage them, and help them find their unique musical voice. Middle school or even late elementary is not too young to start, depending on their own motivation and interest.

On a personal note, I began making up songs at age four, began piano lessons at age six, and was formally composing music by age nine. I was lucky enough to have a private piano teacher who encouraged me and never made me feel I was too young for composition. No one ever told me I couldn’t do it, so I assumed I could – and I did, eventually earning my Master’s in Music Composition.

Composition isn’t just for prodigies – it’s a form of artistic expression that every child is capable of doing. And who knows? With the right encouragement and guidance, they might surprise you.

NatalieLNatalie L. teaches singing, piano, songwriting, and more in New York, New York. She has a Master of Music in music theory and composition from New York University, a Bachelor of Music in musical theater from the Catholic University of America, and a certificate in vocal performance from the Peabody Prepratory. Learn more about Natalie here! 


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How Can I Support My English Language Learner Child?


Parents, you play a huge role in helping your child learn in between private tutoring sessions. Here are some ideas to help your English-learner work on their skills, from North Hollywood, CA tutor Brittany G


When I first got my teaching credential, I was in suburban Connecticut. The majority of students in the classroom where I did my observations and student teaching were native English speakers, with a handful who spoke another language as well. When I moved to California, the most noticeable difference was the number of non-native English speakers in the classroom. This inspired me to get my Master’s of Education in TESOL, Literacy, and Culture from the University of San Diego. Through this program, I was given the opportunity to conduct an action research project investigating best practices for supporting Kindergarten English Language Learners in the mainstream classroom. These findings can be generalized to help parents and tutors uncover methods for supporting their English language learner children outside of the classroom as well in phonics and phonemic awareness.

Some Background on English Language Learners

Between 1980 and 2009, the number of children in the United States aged 5-17 who spoke a language other than English at home skyrocketed from 4.7 to 11.2 million, the equivalent of a jump from 10 to 21 percent of the population, according to the U.S. Department of Education. The California Department of Education website states that English learners make up 23.2 percent of the total enrollment in California public schools in 2010-11. Nearly 37.4 percent of the state’s public school enrollment speaks a language other than English at home, and the majority of these ELLs are enrolled in Kindergarten through sixth grade (California Department of Education [CDE], 2012).

Tools You Can Use

  1. AlphaFriends is an adorable program by Houghton Mifflin that introduces each letter with a corresponding song to highlight the letter-sound correspondence. If your child is having trouble matching letters to sounds, take some time during the week to introduce an AlphaFriend and practice singing the song. One teacher’s compilation is available here.
  2. Alphabet Bingo is a fun way to practice letter-sound correspondance. You can call out a letter, name the AlphaFriend, or choose another word starting with the same letter, and your child has to find and mark the picture on their Bingo card. Over time, you can increase the difficulty by having your child look for middle or end sounds, for instance, “Find the middle sound in the word ‘cat.’” Your child should break apart the word into /c//a//t/ and search for the letter “A.” Here’s a link to some printable Bingo cards.
  3. Let them write! Ask your child to write down their favorite food. Instead of being focused on the proper spelling, work with them to figure out what sounds they want to make and what letter best represents it. For example, I’ve asked students to write out “Ice Cream,” and the process looks something like this:

Teacher: What sounds do you hear first?
Student: I
Teacher: Okay, so what letter is that?
(Student writes “I”)
Teacher: What sound do you hear next?
Student: Ssss
Teacher: Great, lets write the /s/ sound.
(Student write “s”)
Teacher: Next up is /k/.
Student: That sounds like K…

When all is said and done, you might have Iskrem. This is a perfect opportunity to talk about how the letter “c” can make the sounds /s/ and /k/! Create a comfortable environment where your child feels comfortable to take risks and knows that even if they make a mistake, it’s better to try than not. Get your child talking and you will see amazing things!

Identifying letters and sounds are crucial skills for kindergarten and first grade students. Without these building blocks, it is very difficult to move forward into more advance reading and spelling skills. By setting aside 10-20 minutes a day to provide extra support, parents and tutors can help low-level English Language Learners (ELLs) catch up with their peers. It is so important to get involved early and help your child stay on track.

I hope some of my ideas can come in handy, and would highly recommend that you experiment on your own to see what other methods might work for your child.

BrittanyGBrittany G. tutors in a variety of subjects in North Hollywood, CA, as well as through online lessons. She graduated from the University of Hartford in 2011 with a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education, and has also received a Connecticut Teaching Certification for Elementary K-6 and a Certificate of Clearance to teach in California. Learn more about Brittany here!


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Tips for Parents: 4 Ways to Help Your Child in Music

saxophone lesson

Not sure how to encourage your child in between his or her music lessons? Show your support with the following strategies from Nashville teacher Dave L.:

So your child has begged you for music lessons, chosen an instrument, and is about to begin this new and exciting journey in music… what now? You’ve just paid a bunch of money for an instrument, instruction books, accessories… you’re considering the time and money it’s all going to take in order for them to do this… what ELSE can you as their parent or guardian possibly do for your child to help them succeed in their musical journey that the teacher CANNOT provide? This article will give you a checklist of options. The main assumption is only that your child is important to you (obviously!) and you already provide them with a living space some or all of the time. The final assumption is that we as the teacher/parent team want your child to be successful their endeavors.

So what’s first?

1. Help your child create a special music area. This could be an extra room or their own room. Include items such as a music stand, metronome, perhaps an instrument stand, a place to keep their instruction books, and also an audio source such as an iPod or CD player. This space should be a place where they can play uninterrupted away from outside distractions like their cell phone, pets, friends, and siblings. It should also be an area that is kept clean (by the student) – once kids see the value in maintaining this type of area as their own, they’ll take pride in ownership, which will spill over into their learning.

2. Understand that interest = practice, and not necessarily the other way around. You obviously want your child to practice as much as his or her teacher does. But neither the teacher nor you as the parent can truly force the student to do this while also expecting them to find enjoyment in playing music. The student must develop an intrinsic motivation to do this. Help your child create a practice schedule that fits with their daily activities – if they’re a beginner, 15 minutes a day is a great start. While they’re practicing, peek in once or twice as more of a “fan” or audience member. Show interest and ask open-ended questions about what they’re doing, like “Wow, that sounded really cool – how are you making that sound?” or “Can you show ME how to hold the instrument?”  – then all of a sudden the student gets to “play teacher” for a minute and show you what they’re learning, which only strengthens the learning process for them.

3. Help your child create a fun music library that incorporates the instrument they’re playing. Ask your child’s teacher for recommendations if you aren’t sure. Also, bringing them to live concert events that feature a soloist or group playing the instrument of study is a great way to motivate your child. This may also be a nice way to introduce them to music that is exciting to you, as well!

4. Encourage discovery. Allow your child to make his or her own discoveries in music as often as possible. This encourages independence, confidence, and motivation. So many times I see parents come down hard on their kids for not practicing, or smothering the child with criticism, many times with all good intentions (impress the teacher, progress faster, etc.). But it’s my opinion that this approach isn’t best. We want to help them reach their OWN goals. The discovery in this case may be that music just isn’t what interests them – which is OK! Other students will discover a brand new love for life through music and along the way continue to learn about the world, themselves, and humanity. I believe it’s our job as educators and parents to help our youth find exactly what they’re looking for. Music is just one of MANY vehicles we can use.

Thanks for reading!

DavidJDave L. teaches clarinet, flute, music performance, music theory, piano, and saxophone lessons in Nashville, TN. Dave holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Music Education from The University of Central Florida, and is currently the touring keyboardist/saxophonist for Platinum-selling band Sister Hazel. Previously he toured with artists such as 80s pop icon Tiffany and Grammy-nominated vocalist John Berry. Learn more about Dave here!


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Moms Vs. Dads: See Who Dances Better

Since time immemorial, human beings have been embarrassed by the way their parents dance. Then, we grow up and become embarrassing parents ourselves. It’s all part of the circle of life.

For our Moms versus Dads ultimate dance-off, who better to demonstrate the fine art of parental booty-shaking than Jimmy Fallon? His “Evolution of Dance” videos are completely on point and sure to make you laugh!

Ladies first! Take it away, Moms!

Don’t take that laying down, Dads! Show us what you’ve got!

With moves like “the slippery snake” and “driving the station wagon,” this one is too close for us to call. What do you think? Who dances better? Tell us in the comments below!


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