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 […]
Tag: former student
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 […]
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.
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 […]
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 I joined a local orchestra at age 16, I really hadn’t played in a formal group setting. However, there were two brief, awesome exceptions to that statement: when I was in fourth and fifth grade, one of my former violin teachers ran a weeklong violin day camp.
I can honestly say — no hyperbole! — that those day camps were game changers for me.
Most of the camp activities were fun, simple things. We tried to count how many times we heard “da da da DUM” in Beethoven’s 5th Symphony (it’s a big number), learned about classical music in cartoons, made bad music puns during snack time, and did all sorts of fun activities. I also remember candy; the teacher clearly had her priorities in line!
However — and most importantly — we put our music stands in a little cluster one day and took a stab at playing a concerto written for four violins and a cello. We were pre-teens with fairly little experience, so obviously, our efforts were a bit shabby. I don’t think we even finished one page of the song. But I do remember being wowed by the few moments when the music sounded…. well, musical!…. and at that point, I fell completely in love with playing in groups.
Before that camp, I had no idea that people could just get together and play a five-part song for fun. I especially didn’t know it was possible for five KIDS to come together, play five different sheets of music, and sound great in the process!
Why did those camps make such an impression on me as a fourth-and-fifth grader?
Probably because they were so different than formal lessons. There was no homework, no hours of practice to log, and nobody to impress…just a week to make new friends, have fun, and make music. During the school year, music was work. At camp, it was play — and honestly, I think kids need that work-play balance in music just as much as they do in any other context of life.
In my experience, the students who stick with their instruments long-term are the ones who truly enjoy it. If it’s all play, they won’t ever learn good technique…but if it’s all work, they’ll never see it as something to love.
If you’re thinking about putting your child in a music-themed day camp, I strongly suggest you go for it. Fifteen years ago, as a student, music camps truly changed my perspective on violin lessons… and today, as a violin teacher, I can see the payoff!
To register for summer strings camps at Learning Allegro, visit our website.
IN TODAY’S POST, MISS HALEIGH TACKLES A COMMONLY-ASKED MUSIC QUESTION. One of my favorite parts about working at Learning Allegro is the diversity of the people I encounter every day. Music is one of those rare things that manages to pull people out of every […]
“Confessions of a Former Bad Student” is a series by Miss Haleigh — Learning Allegro teacher, orchestra violinist, and former bad student. I never celebrated Halloween growing up. I went trick-or-treating exactly twice in my life: once when I was two (my parents, kind souls, […]