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Why are music lessons so expensive

Super Easy Ways to Save up for Music Lessons [Infographic]

Why are music lessons so expensive

One common question asked by many aspiring musicians (and oftentimes, their parents) is: “Why are music lessons so expensive?”

There are a few main factors that contribute to the cost of music lessons. In this blog post, we’ll uncover what those factors are and then share 10 clever solutions that make saving up for music lessons easier than you think.

Why are Music Lessons so Expensive?

The average cost of private, in-home music lessons is $31.50 for a 30-minute lesson, according to this nationwide study by TakeLessons.

The average cost of online music lessons is a little more affordable, at $25 per 30-minute lesson. That comes out to $100 a month if you take one lesson per week.

While these rates might seem high at first glance, they make more sense when you take the following factors into consideration.

  • Music teachers are often self employed and don’t have the benefits of a salaried position
  • Many teachers factor in the time and expenses it takes to travel to your home for lessons
  • Music teachers take extra time to prep for each individual student prior to a lesson
  • Some teachers pay for their own studio and additional instruments for students
  • Teachers who are just starting out don’t have enough students to fill up a 9-5 work shift
  • If you live in a bigger city, the cost of lessons will be higher because there is more competition in the market

Now you know some of the reasons why music lessons are expensive. If the dream of becoming a better musician still seems distant because of your financial situation, keep reading for some easy ways to save up!

10 Easy Ways to Save Up for Music Lessons

Save $150 a month brewing at home

Are you an avid coffee drinker? If you find yourself making daily trips to your local cafe, one excellent way to save five dollars a day is to try brewing your coffee at home instead.

Consider it an opportunity to try out some new roasts, and a small sacrifice to have to make on your way to musical success. After just one month, you’ll be able to afford six online music lessons (at $25 per 30-minute lesson).  

Save $300 a month packing a lunch

The cost of eating out adds up quickly. Did you know that waking up just a little bit earlier than normal to prepare a lunch can save you hundreds every month? Or, an even easier option is to make some extra food for dinner the night before your work day!

At $10 a day in savings, you’ll have saved up the equivalent of 12 online music lessons by the end of the month.

Save hundreds on your commute

Driving your own car to work can cost you hundreds of extra dollars per month. Instead, try carpooling with coworkers, or if you live close to the office, try bike riding.

Another great idea that will also save you money on parking is to use public transportation, such as a bus or train. Any one of these options will save you hundreds in gas money per month, which you can gladly put toward music lessons instead.

Save $100 a month cutting cable

Many people who have cable find that they don’t actually use it enough to warrant the high monthly cost. If that sounds like you, consider cancelling cable and spending more of your free time on your hobbies.  

With $100 in monthly savings, you’ll be able to afford weekly music lessons after cancelling a cable subscription.     

Save $50 a month skipping the gym

No, we’re not giving you an excuse to stop exercising. Staying in shape is extremely important to your overall health. But instead of spending money on a gym membership, try going for a run or riding a bike at your local park instead.

With all the workout routines available on the internet, it’s easy to get in shape in the comfort of your own home, too! An average $50 monthly gym membership fee equates to two music lessons per month.

Save hundreds more with a rewards card

If you have a credit card that allows you to accrue rewards points with every purchase you make, why not redeem those points as cash and apply them to music lessons?

Rack up the points by using your credit card to pay for groceries, gas, and bills. Many credit cards don’t have a limit to how many points you can accrue or an expiration date on your points.

SEE ALSO: Private Lessons Don’t Need to be Expensive – Here’s How to Save

Save $100 a month staying sober

For some aspiring musicians, this saving strategy might seem like a lot to ask. But just like eating out, the cost of alcoholic beverages can add up very quickly.

Drinking a bottle of wine each week for example, can end up costing you around $100 a month. If you simply cross wine off of your shopping list, you’d be able to afford weekly online music lessons.

Save $50 a month doing your nails

For the ladies, getting a monthly manicure and pedicure will cost you a minimum of $50 a month. Do your own nails instead, or go au naturel, and you’ll be able to afford two additional online music lessons every month.

If you’re learning an instrument like guitar or violin, having short nails will help you hold down the strings much easier anyway!

Bundle up to save even more!

See if you can join a family plan if you currently just have a single line. Reevaluating your cell phone plan is an easy way to save money on your monthly bills.

If joining a plan with relatives isn’t an option, consider getting a group of friends together on the same plan instead. Splitting the cost of a plan with unlimited data is much more affordable than paying for it all on your own.

Pass on name brands

Every grocery store has its own line of products, and they’re usually cheaper than the big name brands we all recognize. A lot of times the ingredients in these products are exactly the same.

Skip name brand items at the grocery store to save up more money every week for music lessons. You can also apply this tip to shopping for clothes – every little bit helps.

Save the infographic below as a visual reminder and watch your savings add up!

 

Why are music lessons so expensive

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With the right tips and tricks, anyone can afford music lessons. Yes, music lessons can be expensive. But don’t let money stand in the way of you reaching your goals and dreams. If you put your mind to it, anything is possible!

Want one more way to make music lessons even more affordable? Start out with online group classes, as opposed to private lessons.

At just $19.95 a month for new students, TakeLessons Live offers group classes in many instruments and skills, from ukulele to music theory. Plus, you’ll get a whole month’s worth of classes for free when you sign up. Try it today!

 

13 Super Effective Ways to Motivate Your Child to Practice Music

MO - 13 Super Effective Ways to Motivate Your Child to Practice Music

So your son or daughter has just started music lessons. You’ve found a kind, knowledgeable teacher, set up a practice space, and bought an instrument.

But here’s the kicker: No matter how excited your child is initially, there comes a point in time when your son or daughter simply doesn’t feel like practicing.

To help you avoid endless fights and keep you from pulling your hair out, we’ve put together this collection of strategies from music teachers, bloggers, and child psychologists to help you motivate your child to practice.


Treat Music Like a Different Subject

Think back to when you were in school. You had your academic classes and your after-school activities. You knew your daily routine: Math, English, Science, etc. Then after school: piles of endless homework!

With so many different subjects, it’s no wonder adding time to practice music can seem like a burden to a kid. That’s where you come in — you can help shift your child’s mindset!

What’s the bottom line? It’s up to you to help your child see music in a different light!

Rather than treating music like any other subject, create a distinction so your child sees music as something he or she wants to do. The best way to shift your child’s mindset is to let him or her play an instrument they’re actually interested in.

“If you want your child to be motivated to play an instrument, music needs to be different than other educational subjects,” says Bobby K. from Guitar Chalk. “Your child shouldn’t see music as a forced discipline, like Math or Geography. This ultimately comes down to choosing the right instrument, which is going to be the one the child is excited about and wants to play on his or her own.

“For me, that was the guitar, which had me practicing (voluntarily) three to four hours a day at 11 years old. That couldn’t have happened with piano because piano wasn’t “my” instrument. It was just another subject. But guitar was different in that it felt like play, not school work. Getting your child into a similar situation, where their instrument doesn’t feel like just another school subject, is absolutely critical. If it’s not happening, that might be a signal that it’s time to switch instruments.”

This also means you may need to be flexible. While it can be expensive to allow a child to start and stop several different activities, try to work with him or her to find one he or she enjoys and is intrinsically motivated to practice.

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Put Your Child in Control

It’s no secret that when we’re told to do something, we don’t always want to do it. During the course of a day, there are several different people (parents, teachers, older siblings, coaches) telling kids what to do. Add music to that list and it’s no wonder motivation seems to dwindle!

Combat this problem by putting your child in control. Let him or her determine the practice schedule, that way they’re more likely to stick to it.

“Kids hear adults tell them what to do all the time; to catch their attention, let them plan their own practice schedule,”  says Nicole Weiss, LCSW Psychotherapist and Coach. “Start with the end in mind. Basically, you want to get your child to make the decision that he or she needs to practice so that he or she can play the way he or she wants to play. After the decision is made, the parent can help the child research and figure out how often a good musician practices. The child then sets a schedule based on the reality that, to be good, one must practice.”

Not only will this allow your child to feel a sense of control, it will also help him or her to learn the value of practice.

“The child makes the schedule, then the parent reinforces it,” Weiss says. “I’m sure many parents reading this would say…’yeah but will they do that day to day?’ That’s where you come in — but you have more weight in your reminder. It was the child’s desire to make the goal. Additionally, the reward should be for accomplishing little goals. For example: ‘practice every night this week and we can download that song you want.’ Reward the work.”

More: Motivate Your Child to Practice With a Reward System


Help Your Child Understand the Gift of Music

Show your child that playing a musical instrument is a special privilege and an opportunity that isn’t necessarily available to everyone. Teach your child to appreciate music and all it has to offer. Help them discover that music can enhance their life.

“I believe that we’re here in this world to do great things with the gift of our lives, and we’re here to serve others,” says Heather F. from Music for Young Violinists. “Learning to play [the violin] helps us in both of these areas — we’re drawn up into a level of greatness through the discipline required to study this art form, and in this process, we cultivate a gift that we can share with others.”

This also includes helping your child develop a love for music. Take them to concerts or shows, play music at home, and help them discover what they like.

Many adults wish they had stuck with a hobby or endeavor they started as a child, like playing a musical instrument. While this can be a difficult concept for young kids to grasp, teaching them to appreciate music can help them understand why practice is important.

According to this article from MusicTeachersHelper on motivating students to practice, “…I can’t count how many times I’ve heard adults say to me, ‘I quit taking piano when I was young and it was such a mistake. I wish I could go back and take lessons again.’ Parents can help children know the value that musical talent brings to society.”


Don’t Make Practice an Obligation

This one may seem a bit counterintuitive, right? After all, you’ve invested the money in an instrument and lessons, and you want your child to make the most of it. Plus, if your son or daughter wants to be good, he or she needs to practice!

The key here is to not make practice seem like an obligation, as compared to other fun activities. For example, if your son or daughter loves to play video games or play outside, don’t allow him or her to do this until after completing practice.

Using a fun activity as a reward will create the mindset that practice is the obligation that stands in the way of the fun activity, and this could create resentment or dread for practice.

As Why We Teach Piano suggests, “Don’t set an arbitrary amount of practice time, without specific goals, and then reward them with playtime or video games afterwards. This just reinforces the notion that playing piano is not fun and video games are fun.”


Plan Performances

When it comes to any sport, hobby, or endeavor, it’s important to keep your eye on the prize. The same thing applies when it comes to your child learning an instrument; your son or daughter has to have a goal in sight, otherwise, he or she may question the need to practice.

“If you want to keep students engaged and excited about their music education, make sure they’re performing consistently throughout the year,” says Anthony M. founder and author of The Music Parents’ Guide. “There are other profound effects on more scheduled performances for all school programs, as well. We, as parents and teachers, need to foster a growing curiosity and even an excitement about music in our children’s lives. Consistent performances are the best way to do this and continue to motivate our children.”

It gets better:

Not only do performances help to increase excitement, they also work to hold children accountable. Ask any music teacher — even the most unmotivated student will be more likely to practice if it means avoiding embarrassment at a recital!


Let Your Child Choose

Just because you loved playing piano as a kid doesn’t mean your child will love playing just as much. Your child may have other interests, and it’s important to allow him or her to explore different endeavors.

“First of all, I think it’s critical that the child choose the instrument they’re going to learn,” says Matt T. from Unlock the Guitar. “I’m a guitarist, and I’d love nothing more than my son to be interested in learning guitar, but he’s undeniably drawn to the piano. Plus, if an instrument is thrust upon them, practicing it will also be thrust upon them. Letting the child choose the instrument turns this on its head, and into your favor, even if they didn’t choose the instrument you would have liked them to play.”


Be Their Cheerleader

Let your child know you’re his or her biggest fan, especially early on when your child may feel frustrated or discouraged.

Eighty-eight notes school of music suggests listening to your child at home as often as you can and making encouraging remarks about their progress. Also, make sure to ask them how their lessons went.

Take a genuine interest in your child’s musical journey. Your son or daughter will be excited to play for you and show off new skills!


Help Them Engage With Music

Your child is more likely to practice music if he or she feels connected to the process. Help your son or daughter develop an interest and curiosity for music.

To help your child stay engaged, become a part of the process. Whatever you can do to get involved is likely to increase their interest and motivation.

“Motivating your child by reward or punishment will stop working very quickly; instead, help your child get curious about music and develop an inner desire to engage with music,” says Jonas G., the founder of flowkey.”Let your child play around with different instruments. Listen to music and sing together. Your child will naturally want to imitate you, so a big motivation for children to practice is seeing their parents engage with music themselves.”


Create Challenges

Rather than telling your child to practice, help him or her set specific goals and challenges. This will help them progress faster because they’ll work on accomplishing specific tasks or mastering particular skills. This idea can be applied to any instrument.

Practiceopedia author and practice expert, Philip J., has a completely different take: “Don’t ask your kids to ‘practice’ — they won’t know what to do. Instead, give them bite-sized, clear challenges to complete: (1) Work out a fingering for measures 24-35 (2) Gradually speed up section B to 85bpm. (3) Be able to play the left hand of the coda from memory.”

Having trouble coming up with the right challenge? Check out Phillip’s website, thebootcampedition.com, for a huge collection.


Celebrate ALL Accomplishments

Learning to play an instrument is a long journey full of peaks, valleys, and plateaus. While you’ll definitely be proud when you watch your child perform, it’s important to celebrate the little victories along the way.

While verbal praise is important, you may also want to create another way to celebrate achievements; familyshare recommends keeping a journal of your child’s accomplishments. When you put it in writing, you’re less likely to forget. If journaling isn’t your thing, you can keep a white board on the fridge, or make a chart that you can display in the house!

Celebrating the little victories will help your child keep a positive attitude when they’re struggling or having difficulty tackling a new concept or song.


Let Them Play Music They Like

While there are always certain signature songs and classics for various instruments, your child will lose interest if he or she doesn’t like the music they’re playing.

Work with your child’s teacher to make sure your child is playing some music they truly enjoy.

According to the Academy of Music and Dance, “As children get to be around 10 years old, sometimes younger, they start to develop preferences for musical style, largely influenced by radio, TV, and whatever they’re most exposed to at home. They will also typically gravitate to whatever their friends are listening to, especially for boys at around age 13 and girls around age 11.”

Use this as a motivational strategy; allow your son or daughter to play at least one familiar song as part of their weekly routine.


Make Practice Fun

This should come as no surprise — no one wants to practice when it’s boring! Incorporate fun games, activities, and challenges, and your child will look forward to practice!

According to PianoDiscoveries, “appropriate goals and positive reinforcement will make practicing fun and rewarding. Very few children are self-motivated in their practice. Most need incentives and reminders to keep them focused and moving forward.”

Ask your child’s music teacher for some creative ways to make practice more fun!


Find the Right Teacher

This brings us to our last strategy and one of the most important: find the right teacher! Although practice is done outside of lessons, if your child connects with his or her teacher, they’re much more likely to practice on their own time.

According to Music Central,”…finding the right teacher will make or break the whole experience. Don’t be afraid to try a new teacher if your child isn’t connecting. The best teachers are usually the ones who not only teach, but know how to be a good friend and mentor to your child.”

Find a teacher who understands your child’s learning style, and a person who’s able to teach concepts in a way that keeps your child interested. When your son or daughter likes his or her teacher, they’ll be more willing to take direction and practice consistently.

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Which of these strategies have been successful for you? Do you have other methods that you use to motivate your child? Let us know in the comments below!

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

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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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Music is a Universal Language: The Truth About Learning It

Music is a universal language

You’ve likely heard the saying “Music is a universal language.” If that’s the case, then how should we be teaching it? How can you effectively learn the language? Read on as Aurora, CO teacher Zach S. explores the idea… 

I recently was able to go to a master class taught by Victor Wooten, and he brought up something that is not talked about nearly as much as it should be in music. Music is a language. Now what does that mean? It means that music has rules (music theory) just as languages do (grammar), and that music can be used to communicate with others.

I will go more in depth into those two aspects of music as a language, but if you read one thing from this post, this should be it: You do not learn a language by studying grammar all day, you learn a language by talking and by listening. The same approach should be taken to music – learn to talk (play) but also learn how to listen.

Communicating with Music
I love music theory. I have studied it for seven years and it is my favorite class in college right now. With that being said, there are a lot of problems with the way music is being taught. When handed an instrument the first thing I am told to do is learn to play scales. Why? There is nothing musical about scales. I am not able to communicate with a scale, just as I am not able to communicate by saying the ABCs.

The first thing we teach a child when they are learning how to speak is a word, but in music the first thing we teach a student is a scale. Why not teach the student how to communicate? Why not teach them how to express themselves first and then teach them how it works second? What I do with students in their first lesson is have them play. I don’t care what, I don’t care how, I just want to see what they have to say. Then I play back, and by the end of our lesson we are able to communicate and my student has learned how to say something with his instrument. That is why they came to me in the first place, to learn how to talk with their instrument. Why not teach the student that first?

Learning How Communicating With Music Works
Now this is where music theory comes in. After a little bit of communicating with music, we start to learn why it works. Just as toddlers start to learn grammar in grade school. It is not the FIRST thing that is taught, but it is still taught. One can communicate without any knowledge of grammar, but the ideas one can get across are simple. As one learns more grammar they are able to get more and more complex ideas across to the listener.

This is why one should learn scales – not to be able to play through them at rapid fire, but to be able to use the scale to get a more complex idea across. Let’s take my main instrument, for example, which is bass guitar. I can hang out on the root of a chord and I will sound good. I then can add in some different rhythms to give it my own little flair. That is with one note, but if I learn the scale that goes with the chord, then six more notes open up. I am able to get a more complex idea across just because I have studied the grammar behind music. This is why music theory is important to allow musicians to better express themselves.

Conclusion
Music is a universal language. Everyone feels something from music, so that should be the first thing taught to students – how to communicate using your instrument, how to be in a band, and how to contribute to the sound. That should be the first thing taught by a teacher. Then it is the teacher’s responsibility to open up the vocabulary of the student, to allow the student to be able to say more, and say something complex. Music is taught backwards currently; we teach students the grammar and then hope they stay with it long enough to the point were they are allowed to say something. Let’s teach student how to say something first, then worry about the grammar behind music.

Thank you for reading!

Zach S.Zach S. teaches music theory and bass guitar in Aurora, CO. He is currently a Music Major at CU Denver, and has played bass guitar and studied music theory for seven years. Learn more about Zach here!

 

 

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Composing Life Lessons from Music

The benefits of music are well-documented when it comes to instilling skills and confidence in young children – here, TakeLessons instructor Bryan B. explains how music can translate into career success for adults as well!

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Recently, I went on a two week trip to sunny Northridge, California, where I got to work with amazing artists and teachers to help develop my craft. What is my craft you say? Singing – more specifically, opera singing.

The program I took part in, OperaWorks, provided me with much more insight than I initially expected. Living in an age of doubt, I immediately felt like it might not have been worth my money. But after two weeks I was pleased to see that there were noticeable changes not only in my music, but also in my life.

Let’s take a closer look at how my training in music affected my life and my world:

Opera-ism #1: I am AWESOME. This was a technique I learned to help prepare myself for an audition. By giving myself a pep talk before walking through the door, I am able to walk in with confidence.

So how does this apply to my life? Well, aside from teaching, I have a normal day-to-day job in sales. And as part of that job, I have to provide people with a service or product. This can be really nerve-wracking because I hate sales people myself. I recently went to buy a car and the worst part about the whole experience was the salesman. I already knew I was going to buy a car, I had already researched the car that I wanted and he just seemed to get in the way. Because of experiences like these, I try to steer myself away from being a “pushy” sales guy.

When I applied my “I am AWESOME!” pep talk to my day-to-day job, I found that it was a lot easier for me to sell to people without being pushy or being pushed over. I was able to confidently talk about products, build relationships with my clients and actively listen and respond to their concerns. Essentially, being AWESOME allowed me to be myself when I was on the phone, and let my personality shine. What I learned from this is products don’t sell – people do.

Opera-ism #2: Music is not what’s written on the page, it is what the performers make of it. The intention of the composer was not that the performer sing the song exactly how it was written, in a robotic fashion, but to add expression and interpretation to it.

This came to light for me when I sang an operatic aria (Love Sounds the Alarm from Acis and Galatea), which is a love song.  Rather than expressing lovey-dovey emotions, this aria became a “war speech” in OperaWorks. I was inspiring a nation to defend itself against its enemies. The whole meaning of the song changed, but it was really effective.

The real life experience happened in learning my “pitch.”  You can always hear the sales pitch coming when you’re on the phone with a salesman.  Well, I realized it’s not about the words, it’s about the meaning. Upon returning, having already memorized the pitch, I started to implement the meaning of the words, and tie them back to the desires of my customers.

What I’ve learned as a performer has more than affected my life – it has changed me. I went into OperaWorks as an insecure performer and came out a confident man. The results speak for themselves. My performance at work has improved, and my personal life is much happier and free. This just goes to show that things shouldn’t be taken at face value. What you learn in school might actually apply to real life. Who knew?

 

Bryan B.

TakeLessons Instructor

Teaching Tips: Creating Unique Curriculum for Your Music Students

 

Are you challenged with the task of finding interesting curriculum to keep your students motivated during their lessons?  TakeLessons guitar teacher Lisa T., who is based in the Chicago area, has some teaching tips for those who want to create an engaging and fun lesson experience for their students.

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If you’re looking for a unique approach to teaching your students and you don’t want to use store-bought materials, you always have the option of creating your own curriculum. The advantage of creating your own curriculum is having the freedom to enhance or modify what you are teaching as you go along. Once created, the curriculum can be used over and over again, tweaking where needed.

So how can you develop a good curriculum? The first thing you should do is define your objectives for your student. Once your objectives are clear, you can start thinking about how you will get there. Measuring your success through defined goals such as tests, practice charts and student feedback is also important.

When defining your objectives, ask yourself the following questions:

–What will the student accomplish during this lesson?
–To what specific level (i.e. 80% accuracy) will the student be able to perform a given task?
–How will the student show that they understood and learned the goals of your lesson?
–Are there any specific modifications that need to be made in order for your student to be successful?
–What tools (both formal and informal) can be used to assess the student’s progress?  These can include practice charts, motivational charts, skill builders and recitals.

These are just a few suggestions for successful lesson planning. Start with a clearly defined goal and track your progress along the way to ensure you achieve the desired results for both yourself and your student. Good luck!

Lisa T.

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Are You a Good Music Teacher, or a Great Music Teacher?
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The Payoff in Perseverance (Or, What I Learned from Mick Jagger)

You can’t always get what you want…but if you try sometimes, you just might find you get what you need.”
The Rolling Stones

Leave it up to music to reveal life’s sometimes hard, yet poignant truths.

To be honest, perseverance is painful. Trying is tiring, and discipline is difficult. When working towards a goal (i.e. getting something we want), instant gratification and instant results are typically as non-existent as Mick Jagger‘s 28” waist.

Take life in the TakeLessons office for example. Just today, one of our new Student Support counselors was sharing his disappointment with me that he wasn’t able to keep a new student on. The student quit a day after her first lesson.

Our Support Counselor, a fellow musician, reminded the student that mastering any instrument takes time and dedication. He invested his sincere time and efforts in this exchange and wanted to see this student continue…but she didn’t. You can’t always get what you want….

The student’s end goal was to be a pop star. Initially, she was really excited for her first lesson. She was quickly disappointed that after a one hour voice lesson, she couldn’t sing like Taylor Swift. After realizing the dedication involved in vocal training and recognizing what an uphill climb it was, she opted out. This story is not told to discount the student, it simply illustrates how hard it can be to persevere. Who hasn’t been discouraged by process? Goals are daunting! But if you try sometimes….

Our company just turned 5 years old, and while I wasn’t here from the beginning, I can certainly tell you that we didn’t get where we are today overnight. TakeLessons was founded with a goal. A BIG goal:  to inspire the next generation of musicians, to pay teachers, and to eventually pay ourselves. Everyone who is in leadership positions now started out small – even our CEO made sales calls at one point! Our small team of 5 persevered, and kept the end goal in sight. Now we are a team of 60 plus employees who work with hundreds of instructors who teach thousands of students! We have outgrown our current office space and continue to grow.

We also continue to be inspired by our teachers and students every day. Bottom line, everyone at TakeLessons and every one of our teachers and students has had hard days, bad days and thin days where we just didn’t get what we wanted. However, we have persevered. We have students who have put in that extra hour of practice, or teachers who travel 20 extra miles to teach a lesson, and who eventually see results! We are proud of how far we have come and look forward to where we are headed.

Now how is that for getting what you need? I think Mick Jagger would be impressed. At the very least, some of us in the office have really good dance moves, but I don’t think anyone has as small a waist.

Crystal Clem
Student Support Counselor

TakeLessons and Music 4 Miracles Team Up to Help Children with Cancer

Recently, our student counselor Kathleen V. had the opportunity to speak with Kristi Huddleston, the founder and president of the non-profit organization Music 4 Miracles. Based in Florida, this inspiring organization is powered by Kristi’s passion to raise awareness and financial support for families of children diagnosed with cancer. The funds raised help provide education through the gift of music lessons.

Kristi’s journey began when she came into contact with a 9 year old battling cancer, and her heart was immediately inspired to do everything in her power to help that child’s family. Since then, Kristi has helped over 15 families and brought smiles to each of their faces through the gift of music. A musician and songwriter herself, Kristi wrote the song “Already an Angel,” which was inspired by the children she helps on a daily basis and brings about a message of hope through tumultuous times. The song can be purchased through the Music 4 Miracles website, and all proceeds are used toward helping more families and bringing music to children’s lives.

TakeLessons is happy to be able to help set up piano lessons for Bella, one of the Music 4 Miracles children, with our rock star teacher Karen J.  This coming July, we will also help set up another Music 4 Miracles child named Shiloh with in-home guitar lessons! Our thanks goes out to Kristi and the sponsors who make in-home music lessons possible for these children, while also offering hope and the gift of music education that can last a lifetime. To learn more about Music 4 Miracles and how you can become a sponsor, please visit www.music4miracles.org.

The Loog Guitar Revolution: Guitar Lessons for Kids Will Never be the Same

loog_slider01As a music educator and performer, I’m always interested in learning about new products and tools that can help students succeed.  When I discovered the Loog Guitar, a 3-string interchangeable guitar designed with children in mind, I immediately took notice.

I was excited to find out more about the Loog because I took guitar lessons when I was 8 years old, and it proved to be easier said than done. The guitar was added to the list of instruments that were uncomfortable for my tiny hands (which I thought would grow eventually, but never did – to this day, I still struggle to reach the octave on the piano!).

I became discouraged and quit after about 6 months, and eventually took up the ukulele many years later – which has been much easier for me to maneuver but even now, the ¾ size guitar is problematic for me.

Many of our TakeLessons instructors prefer not to teach guitar to young children for this very reason.  Now, with the Loog Guitar in the picture, instead of teachers having to focus on finding alternate fingerings and keeping a frustrated student focused on the difficult task of mastering an adult-sized instrument, they can focus on teaching the child to make music!  And isn’t that really what it’s all about?

I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to interview Rafael Atijas, the creator of the Loog Guitar, who provided insight into how his concept came about and what the benefits will be for children who want to learn the guitar.

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When did you realize that there was a need for a guitar made especially for kids?

I saw my 6 year old niece trying to make music with one of those $30 guitars when I thought “There has to be a better way.” It was then that I realized that kids’ guitars are usually just cheap, scaled-downed replicas of classical guitars.  They are not really designed with kids’ needs, comfort or even safety in mind.

Where does your knowledge of guitars come from?

I studied guitar and was in different bands during high school and college (as was almost every other kid I knew). I was very much into rock music and at some point I just fell in love with guitars – especially vintage electric guitars.

What age group do you feel would benefit the most from the Loog Guitar?

Time will tell, but I think kids ages 6 to 9 will be the ones that will get the most out of the Loog Guitar, since this is the guitar that allows them to build chords without the need to form complicated shapes with their little hands.

Where did you get the idea to call it the “Loog?”

It is my subtle but very meaningful homage to Andrew Loog Oldham, the first manager and producer of The Rolling Stones. I always found him to be a fascinating character (I’m a rock nerd, as you can see) and back when I had a band, I had a chance to meet him and he was super kind to us.

What types of learning materials are you planning on coming out with to assist with the learning process?

We plan to include a manual on how to play with three strings, and we will also offer video tutorials on our website.

What does this product mean for kids who have an interest in learning guitar?

Kids will have a friendlier instrument that will stimulate them to make music and get creative with it. What I like about the Loog Guitar is that it works whether you already know how to play guitar or not. And that’s what I hope it means to kids who have an interest in learning guitar: a fun and easy way to play music.

Anything else you wish to add?

I am truly humbled by the response the Loog Guitar project got on Kickstarter (the website that helped raise the money to launch the product), and one of the things I like the most is that so many people from the education field have reached out to me and had very positive things to say about the Loog Guitar. I know TakeLessons.com reaches a lot of music teachers, so I want to use this opportunity to extend my thanks to all of them.

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There you have it, folks.  I’m personally thrilled that there is now a product out there that will make learning guitar simpler for young children.  For teachers, what have you experienced in teaching guitar to young children? Parents and students, what are some of the challenges that you’ve faced learning guitar yourself or watching your child learn guitar?  I’d love to hear your feedback, so please leave comments below if you feel so inclined!  Now if only I could travel back in time and learn to play guitar on the Loog, maybe I would have stuck with it! To learn more, visit www.loogguitar.com or check out the Loog Guitar in action below:

The Loog Guitar in Action from Loog Guitars on Vimeo.

monetheadshot

Monet Payne is the Community Manager for TakeLessons.com. She is dedicated to providing the latest on music education and technology to those who seek it. By night, Monet is a professional singing actress, starring in musicals, operas, and everything in between. Monet has her Bachelors in Music, with a concentration in Vocal Performance, and enjoys teaching voice, involving herself as Vocal Director in several productions. She proudly co-founded a non-profit organization for Voice Education and her next venture will be to start her own theater production company.

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Lessons With Jimi: Tips for Teaching a Piano Student with Alzheimer’s

windy and jimiThe following story comes from piano teacher Windy C. in St. Petersburg, Florida. Last fall, Windy began the challenging journey of teaching piano lessons to a student with Alzheimer’s.  Below she shares some helpful tips she’s learned as a result of working with her student, Jimi. Thank you for sharing such an inspiring story, Windy!

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Last fall I began teaching a 90-year-old woman who has moderate stage Alzheimerʼs. Knowing this in advance, I thought I was up for the challenge; however, things changed when we sat down at the piano for our first lesson and she looked around the room with a confused look on her face and said, “Iʼm sorry, I have no idea what Iʼm doing here.”

I can honestly say I might have had some second thoughts at that point. I looked at her and calmly replied, “Well, Iʼm Windy and youʼre here to play the piano with me. So letʼs have some fun!” But in my head I was mildly freaking out and thinking “Oh my goodness, what the heck have I gotten myself into? How am I going to do this? I never learned how to teach someone with no short-term memory in college!”

I came home after that lesson and scoured the internet and college text books for tips on teaching music to people with dementia, but I came up with nothing. What I am about to share is what I have learned through my experience with Ms. Jimi. I am not a doctor, nor am I an expert on how the brain functions, but I strongly feel that what I am about to share can help anyone working with people who struggle with early to moderate stage dementia or Alzheimerʼs.

Over the past year, Ms. Jimi and I have built a wonderful relationship and I look forward to her lessons more than all my others because I never know what to expect.  All the orthodox ways of lesson planning, goal setting, and progressing go out the window and our 30 minutes together are more like a session of music therapy. Here are five practical things that I have learned from teaching Ms. Jimi:

1. Give The Student The Opportunity To Reach Small Goals

Early on, I realized that Jimi was not going to progress as a typical student would. She could not remember from week to week what we had played the lesson before, so it was obvious that our lessons together needed to be taught in the moment, as an exercise time for her brain.  For 30 minutes, Jimi and I play through pieces that she enjoys and that challenge her, but do not frustrate her.

Ms. Jimi can play simple songs with both hands in C position, G position, and middle C position. We have about six songs in each position that we cycle through. Occasionally, I will add a new one. Usually I will help her through the song the first time. Then we will play it again, and she almost always improves the second time. I’ve noticed when Jimi can play through an entire song by herself, she feels very accomplished. However, she never remembers from week to week what we played during the previous lesson.

2. Use Teaching Aids

As I said, Ms. Jimi is 90, so her eyes struggle at times. Large note music, with the letter written inside the note head, help her immensely. Sometimes I put stickers on the keys to label them just like I might do for a child when he or she is first learning a position. Having the keys labeled is one less thing she has to figure out, which allows her to play through the piece more fluently and enjoy the melody.  I have also found that staying in the same position for an entire lesson helps her to feel more successful. Switching positions between songs causes her to become confused, which then leads to frustration.

3. Know When To Take Breaks

Jimi loves chocolate. If I sense that she is having a rough day and not enjoying the music, we eat a chocolate together.   Sometimes I pull out books that I’ve brought along and ask her if I can play a song for her. She loves “Claire de Lune” and each time I play it, she reacts as if itʼs the first time I have played it for her. “Oh Wow! I love that song!” she will say, often teary-eyed.

4. Know When To Keep Quiet

There are times when Ms. Jimi says “Donʼt touch my fingers this time!” or “Now let me do it and you donʼt talk!” I love her wit, her will, and her determination. And I have definitely learned that it doesnʼt have to be perfect, but she needs to do it on her own. Sometimes I just need to sit back and let her play; if she stumbles, I try to let her figure it out unless Iʼm asked for help.

5. Be Flexible, Creative and Make it Fun

Iʼm always looking for ways to improve Jimi’s experience at piano lessons. Even though I know I could teach Jimi the same exact lesson every single week and she would probably never know – I WOULD KNOW. I mean, good grief, if I live to be 90, I hope that someone makes sure Iʼm still having fun!

One time her grown son came to town and brought her to her lesson. We worked on a simple waltz. She played it for him. Then I asked her if she wanted me to play it so that she could dance with her son. They floated around the room and it was a special moment. On another occasion, I showed her a YouTube video about a 100-year-old woman who was a Holocaust survivor and still loved to play the piano every day. Jimi loved it!

Each music student has different needs. No two students are the same, and that’s what makes our job as music teachers exciting and ever-evolving! My challenge for other teachers is to take the time to experiment and think outside the box to help enrich the lives of their students, not only musically, but also emotionally and spiritually. Music reaches deep into the soul and can bring so much joy into the lives of others!

Enjoy the Journey,

Windy C.

Windy Cobourne

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