Helpful tips and funny thoughts from a musician's mind

Tag: advice

Do toddler music circles actually work?

Do toddler music circles actually work?

Do toddler music programs really do much for your child? How can you tell the difference between a healthy, growth-minded music program and a glorified singalong? Here are a few things to consider.     First of all, your little one can often pick up […]

What to expect at your first lesson

What to expect at your first lesson

Have you ever wondered how private music lessons work? Here is a glimpse into how lessons work at Learning Allegro!   1. SHOW UP ON TIME. Most nights, the studio is full of students! Your teacher, as well as the other families, will probably be on a pretty […]

How to be Recital Ready

How to be Recital Ready

Recital season is upon us! Here are a few ways to make sure that you’re ready to go when the big day rolls around.

 

1. PICK A SONG YOU ENJOY. If you’re going to play for your family and friends (or even strangers), pick something that you love! It does not have to be the most popular, complicated, or recent song you have learned. If you can play it well and enjoy playing it, the audience will love it.

 

2. PRACTICE EFFECTIVELY. When you practice at home, spend extra time with your recital piece. In lessons, ask your teacher to help you “brush up” on the song before the end of each lesson. The more comfortable you feel with the piece, the easier it will be to battle nerves.

 

3. RELAX. Let’s be honest — recitals rarely go how the musician wants them to go! Ask your teachers! No matter how great you are at piano or violin, you will probably walk away from recital saying, “I wish I had done XYZ better.” Don’t stress about making everything perfect. Enjoy the experience and celebrate the moments that do go according to plan!

 

4. FIND THE JOY. If you look at recitals as a chore or an obligation, it will be very difficult to enjoy them. Choose instead to look at recitals as a chance to bless people, share something awesome, and set the mood! The more you can look at recitals as a chance to have fun and brighten someone’s day, the more you will be able to play onstage with confidence.

When is my child ready for private music lessons?

When is my child ready for private music lessons?

Every now and then, we’re asked how early a child can begin private music lessons. Is there one right answer?   Not exactly. As we all know, people are unique. We all learn at different paces, adjust to new situations differently, and have our own […]

Why isn’t my child improving? (The solution isn’t always practice!)

Why isn’t my child improving? (The solution isn’t always practice!)

Guest post from former Learning Allegro instructor Haleigh Swansen    When I was at Learning Allegro, my favorite lessons to teach were to brand new violin students — the people (young and not-so-young) who had no idea how to hold a bow or name the […]

Five Great Practice Tips for Musicians!

Five Great Practice Tips for Musicians!

Is your practice routine getting stale? Ineffective? Does it even exist?

Let’s face it — your not alone. “Practice blues” are part of the journey! When working on your instrument gets boring or fails to yield results, you might just need to rethink your routine.

 

Here are a few ways to make the most of your practice routine all year round:

 

1. ALWAYS GO FOR QUALITY OVER QUANTITY. It can be tempting to make practice time all about speed (“How many times can I play this in 30 minutes?”). Don’t make speed your benchmark! Practice makes permanent, not perfect. Instead of marking your success by how many times you can play a song, take your time and focus on quality pitch, rhythm and dynamics.

 

2. BE CONSISTENT. If you only practice once a week, you won’t grow — even if that one practice session is long and in-depth! Try practicing in small, consistent “bites” all week long. Can you make time to play violin for 20 minutes a day five times a week? Musicians need to train just like athletes — in measured portions all week long.

 

3. RECORD YOURSELF. Most people have voice recording apps on their phones nowadays. That’s an amazing practice tool! At the end of your practice session, record yourself playing your assigned songs. Next week, record it again and compare the two files. Recording software, even basic apps, are a great way to track your progress and work through your mistakes.

 

4. TAKE THE TIME TO EXPLORE. Music is supposed to be fun! If you’re burning out on your assigned work, take five minutes at the end of your practice session to just goof off. Play something you enjoy. Make something up. Find the sheet music for your favorite pop song. Give yourself the space to explore your instrument and (what a concept!) just make music.

 

5. GIVE YOURSELF A REASON TO PRACTICE. For the Learning Allegro family, spring recital is just around the corner. That’s a great reason for us to encourage our students to practice, practice, practice! When you struggle to find motivation, give yourself some kind of benchmark or milestone to work toward. Do you want to play at a coffeehouse? Participate in a recital? Have a jam session with some friends on a Saturday night? Let those opportunities motivate you, help you refocus, and remind you to approach practice seriously.

 

Another great way to grow as a musician is to find a “sparring partner” — someone who will help you grow and check in on your progress! If you’d like to hire a private music instructor to help you make the most of your instrument, check out Learning Allegro.

Here are four instruments your child can start early

Here are four instruments your child can start early

In most Pennsylvania public schools, orchestra electives begin in third grade. That means that the average student doesn’t formally pick up an instrument until age eight. Is it possible to start learning an instrument younger than that?   Yes! In fact, at Learning Allegro, we’ve […]

Does music REALLY make a difference for toddlers?

Does music REALLY make a difference for toddlers?

For a decade, Learning Allegro has been offering group music classes for toddlers — and from time to time, someone will ask us, “Does music really make a difference at THAT age?”    It’s a valid question! After all, the average two-year-old can barely talk, struggles to […]

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 benefits. At Learning Allegro, we do rentals in-house thanks to a partnership with Menchey Music. 

Here are the top five things you need to know about renting an instrument — especially if your child is new to the game! 

 

1. RENTING IS AFFORDABLE. Instruments–even student grade instruments–can be very expensive. Renting allows you to pay in small increments instead of stomaching a $750 investment up front. It also means that you don’t lose much if your child decides to quit six months later! 

(Obviously, the hope is that your kid sticks with lessons and loves them…but hey! Life happens.) 

 

2. SOME INSTRUMENTS ‘GROW’ WITH YOUR CHILD. Most of the brass and woodwind instruments, like flutes and trumpets, are “one size fits all.” If your child is a string player, he or she will actually go through several small instruments until he or she is big enough to handle a full-sized one. Renting is especially a good move for string players because it allows you to switch instrument sizes without hassle as your child grows. (Little violins are super cute, by the way.) 

 

3. MOST RENTAL SERVICES LET YOU PURCHASE THE INSTRUMENT DOWN THE ROAD. When I was ready for a full-sized violin in eighth grade, we went to the music store where we had rented for 9 years. The full-sized violin should have costed $1,500 (yikes!)…but the money we’d spent on rentals over the years was counted towards the cost of the new instrument. We ended up paying about $500 instead.

If your child loves his or her lessons and plans to play for longer than 3 or 4 years, renting is a great long-term decision. You essentially pay for the instrument over time, which is way more affordable! 

 

4. RENTALS CAN COVER ACCIDENTS. Did your child lose part of his clarinet? Put a foot through his cello? Leave the violin on the edge of the table when you told him that wasn’t a great idea? No worries! Most rental companies give you the chance to opt into a “maintenance and repair” fee. For a few bucks per month, they offer a total repair service that will keep even the clumsiest kid in the world in business.

Instrument repairs can be very expensive “on your own,” so this is something we strongly encourage our renters to do! 

 

5. RENTING IS A LOT EASIER IN PERSON. There has been a surge in people renting instruments online. As a music school, we strongly recommend against that. If you’ve never rented before, or you don’t know much about an instrument, it’s easy to end up with the wrong product — or worse, to get locked into a more expensive contract. 

Find a rental instrument supplier in your area and GO THERE! If you’re in the Chester County area, we recommend stopping at Learning Allegro (shameless plug). Talk to a live person; take the opportunity to see your instrument before you sign any contracts. You will have much more peace of mind and will learn more about the instrument you’re bringing home! 


 

Need to rent an instrument? Come see us! We’d be happy to help you. Our address and contact information are listed on the side of this blog and on the Learning Allegro website. 

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 […]