Helpful tips and funny thoughts from a musician's mind

Tag: former student

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.


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!


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 […]

When should my kid start music lessons?

When should my kid start music lessons?

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: how group music took the “FRIGHT” out of me

Confessions of a former bad student: how group music took the “FRIGHT” out of me

“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, ate the candy on my behalf) and once when I was fourteen (when my parents felt badly for eating my candy and sent me out into the world to get my own).


I was never big on the whole “getting scared” thing. Halloween and horror movies sounded like as much fun as an appendectomy.


But whether you’re two or two hundred, the world is full of frightening things. For me, as a former bad student, one of those frightening things was…wait for it…recitals.


Growing up, I was incredibly self-conscious whenever I had to play violin or piano for another person. I honestly can’t explain why. Looking back, I think part of it was that I was always incredibly eager to please–and as any parent or teacher can tell you, the violin does NOT sound pleasing at first. Between bad practice habits and my own self-consciousness, recitals were torture.


Even lessons were awful at times. In high school, I switched violin instructors, and at my first lesson with that teacher, I literally cried. And I was a teenager. Talk about embarrassing! (You can verify this story with Wendy, the founder of Learning Allegro; she was that teacher. And she’s not at all scary.)


I started private violin lessons when I was four years old. I switched teachers four or five times and played in a number of recitals. But many of those recitals weren’t exactly fun.


But believe it or not, after a few years, I did ditch the stage fright. And learning to play with a group was a big part of that change.


During my junior year of high school, Wendy encouraged me to audition for a local youth orchestra. Since my school didn’t have a music program, I had had very little experience playing in groups, but I decided to give it a shot.


The fear factor definitely came with me to auditions. My hands were shaking so much that the conductor stopped me and asked if I was okay. But somehow, I made the cut–and at that first rehearsal, I totally fell in love with playing in groups.


Instead of focusing on the soloists, orchestra focused on the unit. We were taught to listen for each other and to play our parts well while remaining sensitive to the dozens of other melodies happening around us. I made great friends who also loved music–some with way more talent than me and some who were just getting started in the music world.


But most importantly, playing in a group gave me, the shy musician, a chance to fade into the background and actually take in the music.


Private lessons were great, but the focus was always Haleigh front and center. Orchestra wasn’t about me; it was about playing something beautiful and working together to make it sound great.


Today, I continue to play in a local orchestra. I’ve been a member of Immaculata Symphony for seven seasons, and it continues to be something I truly enjoy. I also play in a number of other settings, including for weddings and at my church–and yes, I play alone.


And the best part is, as I grew more comfortable in my group setting, I stopped “getting scared” of performing solo. Playing in a group gave me a new appreciation for music itself–and now, instead of thinking of people staring at me, I can play for my own enjoyment, no matter who is watching or who is standing beside me.