Helpful tips and funny thoughts from a musician's mind

Tag: lessons

When is my child ready for private music lessons?

When is my child ready for private music lessons?

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 […]

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 […]

A Year in Review: Learning Allegro

A Year in Review: Learning Allegro

Learning Allegro has been blogging for a whole year! Here’s what happened since last October.

 


 

Since the Learning Allegro blog has now been active for a full year (woohoo!), we’d like to take a minute to look back on everything that has transpired since last October.

 

1. WE STARTED A BLOG. Let’s go with the obvious first. Blogging lets us connect with our families and friends beyond the studio. It’s also like a real-time scrapbook, in some ways! We’ve thoroughly enjoyed our venture into the blogosphere this year, and we plan to keep on flooding your feed with great musical content.

 

2. NEW STUDENTS. We’ve seen our student population grow–and with that growth, we’ve seen a great new diversity in the types of instruments and musical styles being taught in our building. Thank you for helping us make Learning Allegro a bigger family!

 

3. NEW TEACHERS. Where would we be without them? In the last twelve months, we brought new guitar, voice, piano, woodwind, and drum teachers on staff. Each one brings something special to the studio and clearly loves what they do. We’re so blessed to have awesome teachers under our roof!

 

4. GROUP CLASSES. We started a group strings class this year, which has been great (shout out to Miss Amanda!). We’ve also seen group guitar and rock band classes take center stage.

 

5. ART! The people have spoken: art at Learning Allegro is a huge hit! Budding artists of all ages have composed their own creative works under the skilled eye of Miss Sarah. Our walls are getting full of paintings, and we wouldn’t have it any other way!

 

6. OUR LIVE MUSIC BUSINESS TOOK OFF. This year, we started a live music group for special events. We never dreamed it would take off so quickly–but WOW, were we busy! Allegro Music played for a small army of events, including weddings, memorial services and corporate dinners. We also became the preferred musicians for several venues in the PA and New Jersey region. (Thank you!)

 

7. WE VOLUNTEERED. We played at local festivals, farmers markets, in pits for community theatres, and volunteered at a local elementary school’s talent show. We love doing our part to make the community more musical and cohesive.

 

8. WE HAD TWO GREAT RECITALS. See videos at the bottom of this post!

 

9. WE DISCOVERED THAT MUSIC IS AWESOME. Okay, this one is a freebie…but seriously. This is a discovery that we make every day at the studio. Every time a student aces that “impossible” song, or one of our teachers creates something awesome, we realize how blessed we are to be on this crazy ride as a music school.

 

 

 

2017-18 was a year of real growth for Learning Allegro, and we can’t wait to keep growing right alongside the rest of the Chester County region. Thanks for being part of our family!

 

To learn more about Learning Allegro, visit 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 […]

Help! My child is in lessons, but I’m not musical!

Help! My child is in lessons, but I’m not musical!

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 up with musical parents. My dad has an amazing ear and hails from a long line of musicians with perfect pitch. My mom CLAIMS she can’t carry a tune, but I inherited that perfect pitch gene, and I can attest that she’s more musical than she thinks. I also had the influence of my grandfather, an orchestra violinist, and several musical siblings in my life at an early age. In other words, as far as growing up with music goes, I hit the jackpot.

That’s not the case for everybody. I’ve met many parents over the years who worry that their own lack of musical ability (or even interest) will keep their children from reaching their full potential as musicians. It’s true that having a musical parent is handy, especially when you’re learning music theory, but I promise it’s not the deciding factor in your child’s musical future.

With that in mind, here are a few common concerns I have heard from parents that need to be addressed:

 

1. I DON’T KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT MUSIC.

That’s okay! My younger brother is currently majoring in finance at a state school. I know nothing about finance — but it doesn’t stop me from supporting him and appreciating his passion. It’s okay if your child can read sheet music better than you, or if you don’t know too much about technique. Your support and encouragement can honestly go just as far as a crash course in technique or theory.

 

2. I DON’T LIKE HOW IT SOUNDS WHEN MY KID IS PRACTICING.

Okay, music teachers get this one. As much as we love our students, anyone can get tired of “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” after hearing it 500 times! Remind yourself that the season of squeaky notes and nursery rhymes is short, especially if your child loves his or her lessons. The more they enjoy themselves, the more they will practice! The more they practice, the more enjoyable their music will sound to everyone around them.

You can also ask questions (kindly!) to steer your child in the right direction–questions like “Are you sure that’s the proper note?” or “How did your teacher ask you to hold your bow?” Those questions allow your child to “teach” a little by relaying the information to you, and they should also help correct the sour notes.

 

3. I DON’T FEEL EQUIPPED TO HELP MY CHILD AT HOME.

There are plenty of ways to troubleshoot this one. The best way is to sit in on your child’s lessons. Listen to the teacher’s dialogue with your child and take a few notes. It’s amazing how much you can learn as a fly on the wall! You can also check out some simple theory videos on Youtube or find a theory app for your smartphone.

When I was taking algebra in grade school, my mom bought herself an algebra textbook and would teach herself the problems at night while we were asleep. She always managed to stay one step ahead of us–and it was a huge help! I’m not suggesting you lose sleep over your kids’ lessons, but I do believe that a little bit of self-education can go a long way and make you a more confident source of support for your young musician.

 

4. I’M NOT REALLY INTO THE MUSICAL GENRE MY CHILD IS LEARNING.

If your child is learning an orchestra instrument, he or she will probably get a foundation in classical music because it really is the best technical training you can get. Country, pop, and fiddle are all fun, but they don’t typically test your skillset as thoroughly as classical music does. If your child is learning a genre you don’t particularly enjoy, that’s okay. Again, your support is the main thing

You might find, however, that you enjoy it more than you think. Do a little research! Play the classical/folk/rock and roll songs around your house. The more you expose yourself to the genre your child is playing, the more you will be able to appreciate it.

 

5. IT’S TOO HARD (OR TOO LATE) FOR ME TO LEARN THIS KIND OF THING.

Nope! Some of my favorite students are parents who wanted to cross “play piano” off their bucket lists. You can do this! More specifically, you can learn to enjoy your child’s passion. Why not try classes for a month or two? It’s a good way to give yourself some “me time” while challenging your brain, learning a new skill, and entering the musical world of your son or daughter.

 

For more information about lessons at Learning Allegro, click here!

 

 

Highlight clips from our 2018 spring recital!

Highlight clips from our 2018 spring recital!

Our student musicians did not disappoint! Check out a few of the very talented young artists who played at our 2018 spring recital. So proud of ALL of our Learning Allegro families!  

Five ways to jazz up your summer music lessons

Five ways to jazz up your summer music lessons

Are you struggling to keep music lessons fun and exciting during the summer? Here are five easy ways to jazz up your studies, keep learning, and make the summer months feel fresh.   1.  EXPLORE A NEW GENRE OF MUSIC.   Are you a classically trained […]

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 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.

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 […]