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 #3

  Now we know that good music practice comes from being consistent and valuing the incredible power of music practice. Last in our series is… Music practice key #3 You need to come to practicing with the mentality of being a co-learner, not a policeman. We want them to use their natural curiosity about the world to their benefit. We want to nourish their ability to make discoveries and ask questions. Sit with them in a calm and quiet attitude and help them to become self-propelled learners. When they make a discovery or breakthrough, they’re naturally motivated to continue—without threats, bribes or coercion! And you need to celebrate every accomplishment! Give hugs, high fives, high praise when they overcome a hard spot in their music, or perfect a beautiful melodic phrase. Brag about them in front of other adults – not just about their ability to play, but about their drive to work hard and how they persevered through a challenge. Use your teacher as a resource to break up their assignments into small, achievable goals for you to work on for the week and guide your child lovingly and gently toward taking more and more personal responsibility for their practice time. Then sit back and watch your precious children grow and thrive through challenges, self-correct and gain confidence in everything they do the rest of their lives. Watch yourself become a better parent and a better person as you set an example for them. Can we afford not to approach practice music this way? Want to learn more about practice techniques that will help your family? Get more...

How to Help Your Child Practice: Key #2

We learned last week that consistency is the first key to making practice time easier and more effective at your house. Now let’s go a step farther! The second key to successful music practice You, as a parent, need to understand exactly what practicing is, and its value for your child, or you won’t value it yourself. You’ll compromise practice days and slip into the habit of barking at your child to get out their violin and practice, or threaten to quit lessons if they don’t shape up. Music practice time is PRICELESS for your child’s personal growth. They’re not just learning an instrument, they are shaping their problem-solving skills, focus, self-discipline and regulation, time management, math skills, verbal skills, foreign languages, fine and gross motor skills, intellect, ability to accept constructive criticism, delayed gratification, performing under pressure, and emotional expression. Is there any other activity you can think of that addresses all those areas of personal development? Besides that, they’re learning to play an instrument they can enjoy through their entire life.  Stay tuned for Key #3 next week! Want to learn more about practice techniques that will help your family? Get more out of music lessons and end the fighting at home! Mattix Music Studio is offering a parents-only workshop about how you can revolutionize music practice at your house and help your children (of all ages) develop the incredible life skills they need to thrive. Ask questions and get specific ideas for your family. Click on the event below for registration and more information. Information will be presented by studio owners Dan and Katie Mattix, with...
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...
Music Together | Mattix Music Studio

Music Together | Mattix Music Studio

Music Together— We are very excited to offer early childhood music classes at Mattix Music Studio in Sycamore and Western Springs. Music Together training graduates! Ashley, Christine, founder Lily Levinowitz, and Katie Katie, Christine, and Ashley have all gone through training and are registered Music Together teachers. What is Music Together? Music Together is a music program for infants to age five and their families. Children get to experience musical, personal and scholastic growth while bonding with their caregivers. Who could ask for more? The classes are taught by highly trained, highly qualified individuals who are not only outstanding musicians, but also very caring people. Their highest priority is your childrens’ enjoyment of music and to encourage their personal growth. Music Together classes are also extremely fun for children, grown-ups, and teachers alike! Why Music Together? There are lots of different programs out there, so why did we choose Music Together? Music Together is an extraordinary program. The music is award-winning and the curriculum is based on 25 years of intensive research on neurological, musical and familial growth for children and their caregivers. Also, the music is very rich and diverse. Each class offers original pieces, folk songs from around the world, different modes and meters, and even elements of contemporary music that we adults might not be familiar with. And you may be surprised to hear it, but, unlike some other programs, even adults don’t get tired of listening to the music! It’s so much fun and so varied, with award-winning recordings of original pieces and arrangements, you won’t get sick of it! Families who sign up receive: two CDs (soon to be...
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...
Why Do We Memorize Music?

Why Do We Memorize Music?

Memorize music…?! Have you heard any murmurings at home about how students have to memorize music for their recital? Do your kids wonder why they’re put through this herculean effort? Well, those are good questions! Let’s look to Niccolo, Franz, and Clara for some answers!   A Romantic Goal–To Memorize Music You see, the practice of memorizing music for performance began during the Romantic Era (1820-1900). This was when Niccolò Paganini, Franz Liszt, and Clara Schumann were giving concerts around Europe. Before 1820, performers usually used sheet music in concerts and recitals. They weren’t expected to memorize music. This was mainly due to the fact that these performers had little time beforehand to prepare. New music was written and performed so quickly that memorizing it all in a short amount of time wasn’t realistic or expected. Instead, audiences were looking for the “next big thing”. The idea of reusing music was not a popular one. But beginning in the Romantic Era, music was written more slowly. Composers began writing “art for art’s sake” instead of for a strict deadline imposed by an aristocratic audience.   Paganini   Listen to Paganini’s music Nicolo Paganini (1782-1840) was one of the greatest violinists of all time. He spent most of his adult life on tour performing his own compositions. His ingenuity and skill developed the way the violin was played. His music pushed the boundaries of what was thought possible on violin. And he was among the first to memorize music for his performances.     Liszt   Listen to Franz Liszt’s music Franz Liszt (1811-1886) was quite the lady’s man and rock star in his day. He was one of the greatest pianists in history and also quite...