Helpful tips and funny thoughts from a musician's mind

Tag: education

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 […]

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.

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 […]

My Learning Allegro Story: Miss Haleigh

My Learning Allegro Story: Miss Haleigh

Miss Haleigh shares her Learning Allegro journey with us in this last blog post of 2018. The last week of December is an interesting paradox. Within the span of a week, we go from celebrating the past to cheering on the future. Christmas is all about […]

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 your own time! Encourage your child to take a little break from homework to spend time with his or her music assignments. We recommend framing practice time as a BREAK from homework, not an additional component of homework. It helps to give your child a more positive perspective on his or her practice times.

 

2. CHECK ON YOUR RENTAL SITUATION. If you don’t already own your child’s instrument, renting is the best way to go. Most instrument rental programs use a rent-to-own system to cover each month’s expenses — and then, when your child is ready for a full-time instrument, you can often purchase it for next to nothing! At Learning Allegro, we are providers for Menchey Music, an affordable, quality service offering rentals for all school band and orchestra instruments from strings to brass & woodwinds.

 

3. MAKE FRIENDS IN MUSIC CLASS.  Your kid will probably do this on his or her own, but a little encouragement can’t hurt! Music classes at school are a great way to make music a community-building activity…and when you make friends with other musicians, you find out you’re not the only one who struggles with difficult notes and rhythms. Encourage your child to find that sense of camaraderie in class and encourage his or her peers.

 

4. CHECK OUT PRIVATE LESSONS. As we said in our last post, group lessons have a lot of great qualities, but they will never really be enough on their own. One-on-one help is a huge deal when you’re learning a new instrument because everyone’s motor skills, reading skills, and innate sense of rhythm and tone develops at a different pace. Give your child a boost and sign him or her up for a private music lesson outside of school. You won’t regret it!

 

5. BRING ON THE ENCOURAGEMENT!  Music lessons, whether in a group or in private, can be tough! Encourage your child not to quit or get stressed when the midyear school blues kick in. Remind them that music is an outlet for energy, emotion, relaxation, and learning initiative. Applaud their progress when you notice positive change, and encourage them when they are frustrated with how things sound. You, the parent, play a huge part in making your child’s school music lessons successful!

 


 

To learn more about lesson opportunities for all instruments at Learning Allegro, call us (484-341-8842) or check out our website.

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 […]

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 there are times to take them out of soccer, dance class or any other activity. However, many of the things that make a kid say “I want to quit” are easy to fix, once you know the source. Before throwing in the towel, check out this list and see if it sounds like your child. Maybe there’s an easy solution below!

 


Do you have a frustrated musician on your hands? What do you do when your child tells you that he or she wants to quit music lessons?

In many cases, I think we approach what I call “musical burnout” the wrong way– we fail to track down its source. As a former music student, I can attest that my own frustrations in grade school were normally “quick fixes.”

There are many reasons your child might get frustrated with music lessons, but here are a few common ones that I’ve heard over the years.

 

1. I WANT TO QUIT BECAUSE I’M BORED. Talk with your child’s teacher about finding ways to make lessons new and exciting again. Join a group performance class. Try a summer music camp. Even just starting a new genre of music can make a huge difference! There are tons of ways to spice up your child’s private lessons and make music exciting again. (For more ideas, click here and here).

 

2. I WANT TO QUIT BECAUSE I WILL NEVER USE MUSIC. Lies! Music lessons are a combination of art, mathematics, listening skills, communication skills, group work, hand-eye coordination and a host of other useful skills. Even if you don’t become a professional musician, those skills will benefit you wherever you go. If this sounds like your child, look for ways to connect his or her music lessons to the “real world” around him.

 

3. I WANT TO QUIT BECAUSE BAND/ORCHESTRA IS “UNCOOL.” I’ve met people who quit music lessons because they didn’t want to be labeled “music nerds” in middle or high school. And guess what? Later in life, they regretted caring so much about what the other kids thought! Remind your child that grade school is a very quick season of life, and encourage your child to pursue his or her passions regardless of what others might say. Help your child to see that the value of what they enjoy will outlast the criticisms of their school buddies!

 

4. I WANT TO QUIT BECAUSE I WILL NEVER GET IT RIGHT. Skills take time to cultivate! If your child is in a “I can’t do it” funk, remind them that most things in life are learned slowly. Babies take months to learn how to crawl. Kindergarteners spend a whole year learning how to read. Playing an instrument is no different! Encourage your child to persevere and let them know that you notice their efforts. You can also reward the small milestones in their lessons, like getting a new book or moving up to a better chair in orchestra.

 

At the end of the day, many of the frustrations young musicians experience are easy to overcome. Encourage your child to persevere, even through the “boring” seasons, and in time, the frustrations will turn back into love for the instrument. They did for me!

 

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 […]