Helpful tips and funny thoughts from a musician's mind

Tag: advice

FAQs about Renting an Instrument

FAQs about Renting an Instrument

Renting an instrument for the first time? Here’s what you need to know!   If the idea of renting an instrument stresses you out, take a deep breath! When you have the right help, renting is actually an easy process and comes with LOTS of […]

Back to school checklist for music students

Back to school checklist for music students

As your son or daughter heads back to school band, orchestra, or choir, here are a few tips to help pave the way for success! 1. PRACTICE AT HOME.  The best way to prep for the work you do in class is…you guessed it…practicing on […]

Private Lessons vs. Group Lessons: Which are Better?

Private Lessons vs. Group Lessons: Which are Better?

Every now and then, someone asks us whether their child should be in group lessons or private lessons — but believe it or not, the two are really designed to work together. Allow me to explain!

Group lessons and private lessons, as separate entities, both have a LOT to offer. In private lessons, your child gets one-on-one help that is impossible to duplicate in a full classroom. Since a lot of group music is arranged orchestrally, a student in private lessons will also have more exposure to the gorgeous solo pieces written for their instrument.

Group lessons have their perks, too — they tend to be more high-energy and social, which is a huge deal in terms of personal development. They can teach students the importance of listening to the musicians around them, following a conductor, and how to hear different parts within a larger piece of music.

However, both group lessons and private lessons have their limits — which is why we normally encourage people not to isolate one from the other. 

When a student’s entire exposure to music is just in private lessons, they miss out on the larger purpose of playing an instrument. Most music is played with other people, not in a vacuum! As such, a life of private lessons without exposure to group work is unrealistic. Since private lessons lack the energy factor of a group lesson, it can also be easy for a child to get bored if that’s his or her only musical outlet. I (Miss Haleigh) started private lessons at the age of three or four, and I didn’t play in a formal group setting until I joined my first orchestra thirteen years later. I can honestly say that I would have been a more enthusiastic student if I’d had the group experience earlier in life.

On the other hand, when a student’s only exposure to music is in group lessons at school, I find that they don’t progress as quickly or as independently. It’s easy to practice when 20 other kids are playing the same thing as you — and honestly, it’s easy to “fake it” and hide your mistakes in that scenario. Private lessons force the student to take ownership of his instrument’s individual voice in a way that group lessons do not. They are a better place to correct bad habits, explore new musical genres, and gain confidence as a soloist. For timid students, private lessons are also a space where they can ask questions without getting embarrassed. There is no social pressure, no peers to impress, and no competition–just the student and the teacher.

Having taught literally hundreds of kids over the last few years, we at Learning Allegro are strong proponents of BOTH group and private lessons. Both are incredible opportunities with unique strengths — and they balance out each other’s weaknesses.

Rusty? We can help!

Rusty? We can help!

Did your young musician take a break from lessons this summer? Then she might feeling a bit rusty. May we humbly suggest a great way to get back on track? Let’s face it — we don’t use every musical skill in day-to-day life. Street signs, thankfully, are […]

Musical burnout? Finding the source of your child’s frustration.

Musical burnout? Finding the source of your child’s frustration.

I SHOULD PREFACE THIS POST WITH A LITTLE NOTE. Yes, I’m in the music education business. No, I’m not writing this to guilt-trip you into keeping an unhappy child in lessons! There are certainly times to take a child out of music lessons, just like […]

Help! My child is in lessons, but I’m not musical!

Help! My child is in lessons, but I’m not musical!

What do you do when your child is taking music lessons, but you don’t consider yourself a “musical person?” How can you make sure your child is truly progressing? Miss Haleigh returns to the Learning Allegro Blog to tackle this common question.

 


I grew up with musical parents. My dad has an amazing ear and hails from a long line of musicians with perfect pitch. My mom CLAIMS she can’t carry a tune, but I inherited that perfect pitch gene, and I can attest that she’s more musical than she thinks. I also had the influence of my grandfather, an orchestra violinist, and several musical siblings in my life at an early age. In other words, as far as growing up with music goes, I hit the jackpot.

That’s not the case for everybody. I’ve met many parents over the years who worry that their own lack of musical ability (or even interest) will keep their children from reaching their full potential as musicians. It’s true that having a musical parent is handy, especially when you’re learning music theory, but I promise it’s not the deciding factor in your child’s musical future.

With that in mind, here are a few common concerns I have heard from parents that need to be addressed:

 

1. I DON’T KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT MUSIC.

That’s okay! My younger brother is currently majoring in finance at a state school. I know nothing about finance — but it doesn’t stop me from supporting him and appreciating his passion. It’s okay if your child can read sheet music better than you, or if you don’t know too much about technique. Your support and encouragement can honestly go just as far as a crash course in technique or theory.

 

2. I DON’T LIKE HOW IT SOUNDS WHEN MY KID IS PRACTICING.

Okay, music teachers get this one. As much as we love our students, anyone can get tired of “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” after hearing it 500 times! Remind yourself that the season of squeaky notes and nursery rhymes is short, especially if your child loves his or her lessons. The more they enjoy themselves, the more they will practice! The more they practice, the more enjoyable their music will sound to everyone around them.

You can also ask questions (kindly!) to steer your child in the right direction–questions like “Are you sure that’s the proper note?” or “How did your teacher ask you to hold your bow?” Those questions allow your child to “teach” a little by relaying the information to you, and they should also help correct the sour notes.

 

3. I DON’T FEEL EQUIPPED TO HELP MY CHILD AT HOME.

There are plenty of ways to troubleshoot this one. The best way is to sit in on your child’s lessons. Listen to the teacher’s dialogue with your child and take a few notes. It’s amazing how much you can learn as a fly on the wall! You can also check out some simple theory videos on Youtube or find a theory app for your smartphone.

When I was taking algebra in grade school, my mom bought herself an algebra textbook and would teach herself the problems at night while we were asleep. She always managed to stay one step ahead of us–and it was a huge help! I’m not suggesting you lose sleep over your kids’ lessons, but I do believe that a little bit of self-education can go a long way and make you a more confident source of support for your young musician.

 

4. I’M NOT REALLY INTO THE MUSICAL GENRE MY CHILD IS LEARNING.

If your child is learning an orchestra instrument, he or she will probably get a foundation in classical music because it really is the best technical training you can get. Country, pop, and fiddle are all fun, but they don’t typically test your skillset as thoroughly as classical music does. If your child is learning a genre you don’t particularly enjoy, that’s okay. Again, your support is the main thing

You might find, however, that you enjoy it more than you think. Do a little research! Play the classical/folk/rock and roll songs around your house. The more you expose yourself to the genre your child is playing, the more you will be able to appreciate it.

 

5. IT’S TOO HARD (OR TOO LATE) FOR ME TO LEARN THIS KIND OF THING.

Nope! Some of my favorite students are parents who wanted to cross “play piano” off their bucket lists. You can do this! More specifically, you can learn to enjoy your child’s passion. Why not try classes for a month or two? It’s a good way to give yourself some “me time” while challenging your brain, learning a new skill, and entering the musical world of your son or daughter.

 

For more information about lessons at Learning Allegro, click here!

 

 

Five ways to jazz up your summer music lessons

Five ways to jazz up your summer music lessons

Are you struggling to keep music lessons fun and exciting during the summer? Here are five easy ways to jazz up your studies, keep learning, and make the summer months feel fresh.   1.  EXPLORE A NEW GENRE OF MUSIC.   Are you a classically trained […]

How a summer camp helped me see the FUN in violin lessons

How a summer camp helped me see the FUN in violin lessons

In last week’s post, I said that I did not start playing violin in a community-oriented way until I had been in private lessons for thirteen years. That’s a partial truth. My middle school and high school did not have onsite music programs, so until […]

Why summer is the best time to try a new instrument

Why summer is the best time to try a new instrument

Here’s what we’ve noticed at Learning Allegro when our students try out new instruments during summer break. 


In the last few years, we’ve seen a surge of students at Learning Allegro who try a new instrument over the summer. We don’t blame them! Here are a few great reasons to consider letting your child experiment with a new musical hobby when school lets out.

 

1. IT’S SUMMER. That means your child does not have homework on his or her plate. Without essays to write, school sports, or yearbook club meetings, most kids have lighter loads in the summer. That makes the June-to-September window a perfect time to try out a new, fun responsibility. Summer also means that your child can’t use homework as an excuse not to practice. But we digress!

 

2. IT HELPS YOUR CHILD RECOGNIZE THAT MUSIC IS NOT JUST A “SCHOOL THING.”  There’s a healthy, constructive time and place to make music lessons part of a child’s academic education. Many of our students play in school bands or orchestras. They get homework to practice — and that homework is important! However, parents and educators do music lessons a disservice when we make them sound like one more after-school chore. Taking lessons in the summer will help your child to view practicing as a leisure activity, not just a school obligation. It helps put the “fun” back into something we often dismiss as routine.

 

3. IT’S A SHORT TERM COMMITMENT. Is your son convinced that he’s the world’s next greatest tuba player? Maybe he just needs two or three months to get it out of his system! Give your child an opportunity to try that brand new instrument over the summer. If he hates it, you’ve lost relatively little time and money. If he loves it, you might have the next tuba sensation on your hands after all!

 

4. IT WIDENS YOUR CHILD’S MUSICAL VOCABULARY. The best musicians are versatile musicians. That’s why music schools require their graduates to take entry-level courses on several different types of instruments. Cello majors will still have backgrounds in voice, piano, or woodwinds, for example, because it actually makes them more accomplished in their main studies. When your child tries a new instrument, even just for a few months, the same thing will happen. Branching out always results in a stronger, well-rounded musician.

 


 

TO LEARN MORE ABOUT SUMMER LESSONS AT LEARNING ALLEGRO, VISIT OUR WEBSITE

Seven ways to help your child practice more effectively

Seven ways to help your child practice more effectively

It’s no big surprise that most kids love music, but hate practicing. We often sell practice negatively, whether we mean to or not. We paint it as work (which is true), but fail to emphasize the room for discovery, improvement and fun within that work. Like any good […]