Teenagers Need Music Lessons

Teenagers Need Music Lessons

Teenagers need music lessons? Yes! And here’s why… I don’t have to tell you that middle school is a rough time of life. And high school can be, too. We are the most insecure, awkward, sensitive, and probably smelly in those delightful early teenage years. Some parents tell me they are concerned about adding private music lessons to their teenager’s schedule because they don’t want to overwhelm them. But I’ll tell you what – private music lessons are EXACTLY what any hormonal, angst-ridden, confused kid needs. Here are a few reasons why teenagers need music lessons. Parents are lame. Ok, we all know parents are not lame. In fact, we know everything, but your teenager doesn’t always accept that fact. A music teacher can have an immensely positive impact on your teen’s life. You see, this person is an adult (who is not their parent) helping to support and love your child. Music teachers can say things that parents can’t. They are cheerleaders that teens can count on for encouragement. Music teachers don’t have the hot buttons that you and your child do. So they can have one of the deepest relationships your child has with an adult. Teenagers need music lessons because of the meaningful connection with a non-family adult. Feelings are confusing. Teenagers are bubbling full of extreme emotions that are going up and down all day. Music is an incredible way to express that spectrum of feelings in a healthy and productive way. I remember sitting down to the piano and playing through my Chopin book daily as a teenager. I still sit down with Chopin on rainy and frustrating days to help me feel better! Teenagers need music to help process...

Why should you take summer music lessons?

It’s almost summer! Hooray! The weather is getting warmer, kids are wearing flip flops, school is almost out and families are gearing up for vacation season. Here’s a big question – Have you thought about summer music lessons? Parents know that kids forget approximately 97% of all learning in the three months or so they are out of school. Here is a chart to demonstrate:   Those adorable children only use math to calculate how much money the require from your pocket to get a cone from the ice cream man. They only use psychology to talk you into allowing one more sleepover. They only use reading and writing skills to write their name on your car with chalk. But we music teachers would like to engage their growing minds throughout the entire year. Here’s why we think summer music lessons are important:   Avoid Frustration After kids work a whole school year to achieve wonderful results and have a thrilling performance at spring recitals, they often forget everything over the summer. It can take months to recover from a summer backslide and students can become frustrated and “lose interest” in an activity that they used to really enjoy. Summer music lessons will give kids a happy, rewarding feeling when they get back to school in the fall.   Retain Muscle Memory Musicians are athletes. We need to retain muscle memory in our bodies to be able to play our instruments. Do you think professional football players take the summer off? No way! They’re training harder than ever to get ahead during the summer months. Students in band and orchestra can learn...
How to Help Your Child Practice Music: Key #1

How to Help Your Child Practice Music: Key #1

Everyday around the world, parents are nagging kids to practice music, and kids are fighting back, dragging their feet and thinking wistfully about the activities they would rather be doing. I have a secret. It doesn’t have to be that way. Practicing doesn’t have to cause aggravation, conflict and pain in your family. In fact, practicing can be a time that kids actually enjoy and that can improve your relationship with your kids. **GASP** “Tell me more, crazy lady!” you say? It would be my pleasure.   The first key to successful music practice I taught piano lessons to a family with three girls ranging from 6 to 10 years old, each with completely different personalities. They decided that they would participate in our studio’s 100-Day Practice Challenge. Students have to practice their instrument for the length of their lesson (i.e. 30 minutes) for 100 days in a row with no exceptions. This meant that the mom was committing to supervising the girls for an hour and a half for 100 days in a row. When I asked her how it was going after the first few weeks, this is what she said: “In the beginning it was hard, and they complained and fought me about practicing. But, now it’s just something we do. They know to expect it and they’ve stopped arguing. All of them willingly go to the piano bench, and I need to help them sometimes, but I am thrilled at how much they are progressing. I didn’t know they could play so well!” Did you notice what she did that was so successful? She was consistent....
Performing Matters–Here are 4 Reasons Why!

Performing Matters–Here are 4 Reasons Why!

As we get close to recital season, you may be wondering why performing matters at all. Some parents are afraid their kids might crumble under the pressure, some adult students are wondering why they got themselves into this, and most students are just plain excited. So what’s it all about, anyway? Regularly performing the music we learn is extremely valuable, for musical reasons and for personal growth. Here’s why performing matters. 1. Performing matters because students learn life skills. Students who perform regularly have the opportunity to practice performing under pressure. As adults, we are often called upon to perform a skill under pressure. The more we practice, the better we get. The skill of performing music can be applied to job interviews, presentations, test taking, or public speaking. We don’t teach students how to ignore pressure or pretend they’re not nervous. We teach them to be familiar with that feeling, focus and push through for a successful outcome. In short, we practice being courageous! “But what if my child really messes up?!” Guess what? Mistakes during performances are not failures. The skill of making a mistake and recovering from it is invaluable to leading a successful life. We all have to learn to move on from mistakes and refocus. In fact, it takes as much skill to recover from an error during a performance as it does to play it perfectly. Obviously, no one wants to make mistakes, but life is full of imperfection. The sooner we learn how to get past that, the more mature people we can be. If you or your child make a mistake during...
I Admit It… I’m a Lazy Violinist!

I Admit It… I’m a Lazy Violinist!

“Try to be a lazy violinist!” Yesterday I told my student Adam that what he really needs to play his piece well is to be a lazy violinist. His eyes bugged out and he definitely could not believe what I just said. Yep, he needs to be more “lazy.” So here’s a big secret that nobody knows: Musicians are jocks. We’re all athletes who are working out very specific parts of our muscles everyday. The stigma of the nerdy musician who is as pale as a vampire because she never sees the sun, wearing glasses while squinting at small music notes, and whose backside is shaped like the practice chair may have some legitimacy… But we’re actually pretty amazing athletes. I dare you to challenge me to a thumb war! Injured Violinist When I was in college I practiced violin for six to eight hours a day, which is pretty standard for string and piano majors. By my junior year I developed severe tendonitis and carpal tunnel syndrome in both of my hands due to overuse and bad technique. I literally couldn’t hold a fork for a while, or even turn a door handle. The doctors told me I couldn’t play violin again. They said that I should just quit and do something else with my life. Well, tell that to someone who is in their junior year of college, only has one legitimate skill and 3/4 of their music credits done, and watch them dissolve into a puddle of despair. I stopped playing for about nine months and slowly worked myself back up to practicing as much as I could. Not eight hours...
Practice is hard! But the reward is great!

Practice is hard! But the reward is great!

As we’re in the midst of the school year, you may be finding that practice time is getting to be more of a challenge. “Why does it have to be so hard to get my kid to practice?” you might ask. I’m a new parent, so I’m definitely no expert. But one thing I’ve learned from being in charge of a baby is that generally, humans don’t like to work hard unless they have to. This is most clear when Clara is doing “tummy time.” She is supposed to spend a certain number of minutes per day on her tummy so she can build muscles and eventually learn how to crawl. Unfortunately, Clara does NOT like tummy time. She would be the first to tell you that practice is hard! Well, she would if she could talk… Clara’s View–“Practice is hard!” She starts off pretty happy…    Then she moves to concern… Which turns to anger… And finally, defeat. Then Extremely Mean Mom flips her over and all is right with the world. Parent’s View–“Practice is hard!” What Clara doesn’t know yet, is that once she gets stronger, she’ll be able to sit up and play, empty all the cupboards, and chase the cat, which is going to be worth it! I’m guessing that you all have seen or experienced this little microcosm in your own house when you’re trying to get your kids to practice regularly. It’s not always fun as a parent, but we try to do what’s best for our kids. By the way, if you are an adult student, you may not actually be crying by the...