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 […]
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 […]
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.
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 […]
What do you do when your child is taking music lessons, but you don’t consider yourself a “musical person?” How can you make sure your child is truly progressing? Miss Haleigh returns to the Learning Allegro Blog to tackle this common question. I grew […]
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 seriously as science and technology– and in some ways, their music and poetry actually outlived their scientific discoveries. For example, when Pythagoras claimed that the world was round, it was a big deal in his own time…but children today can figure that out with one glance at a satellite image. The discovery still matters, but it doesn’t necessarily surprise us anymore.
On the other hand, we STILL have whole fields of study devoted to understanding the paintings, musical practices, and stage plays of our ancestors. High schoolers still read Homer and Sophocles, as part of their basic education.
In other words, while cutting-edge science changes constantly, art is evergreen. It can pass through the hands of ten generations without losing its potency. That’s why it’s one of the best ways to map and understand a culture.
SO WHEN DID PUBLIC SCHOOLS START DOWNPLAYING THE ARTS?
Two words: Cold War.
American schools began to elevate math and science in the late 1950s as a response to tensions between the USA and the Former Soviet Union. Basically, national leaders saw science, tech, engineering and math (“STEM” subjects) as the best way to stay ahead of the Soviets. If kids were interested in math and science, they would grow up to develop new technology, weaponry, and aerospace programs. That was the logic–and as I type on a MacBook Air, it seemed to work.
Unfortunately, this created a see-saw effect in public education — when one budget goes up, the other goes down. As the United States began passing legislation like the National Defense Education Act (1958), the budget for STEM education was raised. At the same time, more schools began to treat the arts as secondary subjects.
TODAY, MANY SCHOOLS ARE STARTING TO REDISCOVER THE VALUE OF AN ARTS EDUCATION.
Students who take art and music are four times more likely to be recognized for academic achievement. Studying music and theatre has actually been proven to improve math and science test scores. In fact, many of the leading STEM nations, including Japan, Hungary, and the Netherlands, require schools to fund the arts seriously.
Fortunately, public schools is not the only way to give your child a musical head start. That’s one reason we view our work at Learning Allegro as so critical to a child’s development. Music studios, art lessons, and community theatres are great ways to expose your child to the arts…and that exposure will positively impact the rest of their formal education.
Music and art are more than just fun creative outlets. They help us interact with our world intellectually!
WHETHER YOUR CHILD IS A FUTURE SCIENTIST, ARTIST, OR SOMETHING IN BETWEEN, LEARNING ALLEGRO OFFERS A VARIETY OF MUSIC AND ARTS COURSES TO HELP THEM GROW. BE SURE TO VISIT OUR WEBSITE FOR MORE INFORMATION. ASK US ABOUT OUR SUMMER CAMPS!
It’s no big surprise that most kids love music, but hate practicing. We often sell practice negatively, whether we mean to or not. We paint it as work (which is true), but fail to emphasize the room for discovery, improvement and fun within that work. Like any good […]
If you’ve managed to pull out of your Thanksgiving food coma, congratulations! You’ve come to your senses just in time for everyone’s favorite month-long shopping spree — that dreaded stretch between Thanksgiving and Christmas. At least there’s Christmas music on every radio station. That should […]
Although most of the lessons we teach at Learning Allegro are one-on-one with students, we get questions from time to time about group classes (which yes, we do teach).
Are there any benefits to putting your child in a group setting to learn an instrument? Absolutely!
Group music classes are a great way to introduce children to music lessons and offer a variety of benefits to young musicians. They allow young learners to develop technical and social skills in an atmosphere that individual lessons can’t duplicate.
We asked the teachers at Learning Allegro to list some of the most common benefits they have observed while teaching group lessons. Here are some of their top answers.
1. Heightened Interest.
When a student takes private lessons, he or she will potentially only learn (and hear) a small portion of the music universe. However, students in group classes are typically exposed to many aspects of music–including different genres, techniques, and the chance to play alongside different instruments. Also, since groups allow for a continuous flow of ideas and dialogue, it’s often easier to keep students focused on what they’re learning!
2. Peer Learning.
Nothing helps us learn faster than teaching someone else! In group classes, students don’t just have the opportunity to learn from the teacher–they often get the opportunity to teach their fellow peers! Some students may be too shy to ask a teacher about a technique, but feel totally comfortable asking a peer to demonstrate. The group dynamic also gives the students chances to see their peers working to use techniques, improve rhythm, and hear notes to improve intonation.
Many students have a competitive approach to learning–which is wonderful when founded in positivity and collaboration! Group classes allow for healthy competition to abound. Also, a competitive spirit will often drive students to practice more and learn faster than they would in private lessons.
Unlike private lessons, students in group classes are constantly performing in front of their peers. Because they are always “performing”, students gain a level of showmanship that is not found in private lessons. This can greatly benefit a musician down the road. Students in group classes are also able to hear their peers learning and struggling with some of the same concepts, which brings a sense of community to some of the more difficult aspects of learning an instrument.
5. Social Competency.
Unlike private lessons, group classes make learning music a social event. Students learn how to take turns, ask questions, play together, and make friends! Students also have the opportunity to learn about their own interests while celebrating the unique interests of their peers.
Having the confidence to perform in front of others, help each other, and ask questions are skills that apply to all aspects of a student’s life. Learning an instrument is wonderful; being able to learn that instrument with a friend is even more fantastic!