Helpful tips and funny thoughts from a musician's mind

Tag: parenting a musician

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 […]

Here are four instruments your child can start early

Here are four instruments your child can start early

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 taught violin and piano students as young as four years old. If your child wants to start early, it’s totally a possibility.

 

Here are four instruments that, in our experience, are great starting points for young learners.

 

PIANO. This instrument is basically kid-proof! If you can teach the student to identify the right key, it will never sound squeaky or out of tune. Not only does that save mom’s ears, but it gives a young learner immediate feedback that sounds nice. Pianos allow our smallest learners to learn the basics of music and rhythm in a fun, tactile and pleasant-sounding way.

DRUMS. Don’t panic, mom! There are lots of drum-practicing methods that are easy on a parent’s ears, including practice pads and rubber drum covers. Drums are a big hit with young learners. Hitting things? Deep noises? Surprising sounds? What’s not to love!

On a more serious note, drum lessons are a GREAT way to give your child’s motor skills and sense of rhythm a boost.

VOICE. Your child was born with an instrument — and most kids already LOVE to sing. Don’t overlook voice lessons! Your child will learn the basics of pitch, proper breathing techniques, and how to be an effective communicator through song. This is perhaps the most natural instrument for a young child to learn, and it’s a great outlet for energy and creativity.

UKULELE. Stringed instruments can be tough at first, but what’s not to love about the sound of a ukulele? Ukes have four strings (compared to six on a guitar), so they are a little easier for a young learner to handle. The size also makes them perfect for kiddos! Since they’re smaller, they are not particularly loud, and they have a beautiful, mellow sound. If you have a child who has expressed interest in guitar, ukulele is a great starting point.

 

 

To learn more about lessons at Learning Allegro, visit our website. 

 

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 […]

WATCH: Clips from Learning Allegro’s 2018 Christmas Recital

WATCH: Clips from Learning Allegro’s 2018 Christmas Recital

Here are a few clips from our 2018 Christmas Recital — including a guest appearance by Miss Wendy! We heard from over 30 talented young musicians at this year’s event. What a treat! Do you have a budding musician in your home? Check out our […]

FAQs about Renting an Instrument

FAQs about Renting an Instrument

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. 

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 […]

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 not printed on treble clefs. Traffic jams, sadly, do not sound particularly melodious. And while all the world is a stage, very few places are good practice rooms.

However, there are certain musical skills, such as sight reading, intonation, and muscle memory, that are very important for young musicians to practice. These are skills that require time and attention to develop properly. In other words, if you don’t keep up with them, they get rusty.

That’s where this blog post comes into play. Many of our Learning Allegro students take a break from lessons during the summer, but most of my “break families” come back in August, not September. Why? Because it gives their children four weeks to get “back in shape” before heading back to orchestra, band, or lessons at school.

It’s not a huge surprise if your kid is feeling rusty after three months off. The most important principles of music are built on hours and hours of practice. So before you send your child back to school, take a month to help them get back into the musical routine!

Not only do August lessons refresh musical skills, but they can re-instill your child’s sense of confidence in classes. As a kid, I dreaded September lessons because I felt like everyone would figure out how rusty I was. It was embarrassing to come back to a class and feel like I had regressed to “square one.” When you sign up for August lessons, you also give your child a chance to rebuild confidence in a lesson setting — BEFORE they have to play in front of other kids again. That’s a huge deal! 

We offer private lessons at all hours of the day, seven days a week, on virtually every instrument taught in public schools. Sign your child up for August lessons! You will send them back to school in September with confidence, renewed skill, and a splash of energy to shake off that summer rust.

 

FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT LESSONS, CHECK OUR WEBSITE.

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 […]