Helpful tips and funny thoughts from a musician's mind

Tag: education

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. […]

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 eat neatly, and can’t put her own shoes on the right feet. Does early exposure to music really make that much of an impact?

 

Believe it or not, it does.

 

In the 1990s, researchers discovered that children who start music classes early will speak more clearly, develop a larger vocabulary, and exhibit stronger social and emotional skills than their peers (Novak Djokovic Foundation). When children are exposed to music before the age of 4, they are more likely to master a second language. And since music encourages phonological awareness, toddlers who take regular music classes also tend to make quicker headway with reading and public speaking.

 

Toddler music classes are good for parents, too! When mothers engage in music alongside their children — especially when they play or hum the music personally — their cortisol levels are lowered. That means lower stress for mom and toddler alike.

 

Many of the skills that we value as adults — reading, public speaking, a good sense of timing and coordination — begin in the formative toddler years. That’s why Learning Allegro began its toddler music circles nearly a decade ago. Today, some of the toddlers in those early classes have become skilled musicians and students. We have personally witnessed the difference that a “head start” in music can make, and we encourage you to make music a part of your child’s life as early as possible.

 

If you’d like more information about toddler music programs at Learning Allegro, visit our website. 

 

 

 

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 […]

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 […]

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

Why do so many schools downplay the arts?

Why do so many schools downplay the arts?

Many public schools treat art and music extracurriculars. In fact, the arts are often defunded before subjects that really are extracurriculars, like sports. Why? In the scheme of global history, we’re really the first era to downplay art education. Our ancestors treated the arts just as […]