You’ve thought about it, and it’s time to start piano lessons, begin learning guitar, or sing. But how do you get ready, where do you learn, and who can help you along the way? There are so many teachers out there and so much to do to prepare:
- You need an instrument!
- How do you pick the right teacher?
- What do you need first?
Good questions! We’ll make it easier and answer these and more for you, so keep reading.
Picking the right learning situation at home and music teacher for your student involves your expectations, your schedule, your space limitations, and your sound limitations. Believe it or not, you can take piano anywhere under any situation. For instance, if you are in an apartment, you would want to think about a digital piano or keyboard that can give you the best keyboard touch you can afford.
For voice, you need a place you can sing full voice so the student can learn vocal support (and this always requires an environment where you can sing full voice without disturbing neighbors in apartments or zero-lot-line living. Piano skills enable a singer to be self-sufficient and develop exceptional sight-reading skills too.
Violin has many of the same limitations, though you may be able to find a violin with a digital connection that will allow you to play a little softer into a headset. Bottom line: picking a time to practice during awake/daylight hours is the considerate choice for everyone at your house, as well as for your neighbors!
What instrument should I get?
Since one of the first questions your prospective music teacher will have is “What kind of piano or guitar or violin do you have?”, you will be ahead of the game if you can tell him/her that your digital piano weighted keys or your 5-octavekeyboard has touch sensitivity (it plays loud when you touch the keys firmly or soft when you touch it lightly) and how many keys it has – 5 octaves (56 keys), 72 keys or the regular full keyboard of 88 keys. Or we plan to rent a violin or guitar, or we own this brand of violin or this size and brand of guitar. Violins and guitars both come in ¼, ½, ¾, and full size. And, even if you own a full size, it will be vital to the student’s success to get just the right size.
We’ve seen beginning students struggle with guitars or violins that are too big for them. When parents see the result, they often notice slow progress or cause a discouraging attitude. So, be aware and ask the teacher what size instrument you should get for your student. Or go to a music store with known reputation for helping you find the correct sized instrument.
Which teacher is right for me or my student?
The next, and most important, question you need to answer is; which violin teacher should we take lessons from? Would I prefer a piano teacher near me? What is the cost? There are subscription piano lessons online, and some of those piano teachers are brilliant. That said, it often works best for older beginners – ones who have already accomplished the self-discipline and ability to search out an answer not presented in the lesson(s) or other resource such as a friend.
If you have a friend who is a pianist that may work for one or two questions, but if your friend is a piano teacher/musician, either take lessons or classes from them or do not ask. This is question of professionalism and you need to understand this is their career, their livelihood. Your questions about the piano lesson you are taking is not a polite request. Search online or ask a school music teacher what source might help. Or just pay for lessons from a teacher, whether online or in person. This is the proper choice.
Start with an interview.
For an in-person or online live teacher, an Interview is the only way to go. Sometimes teachers will teach you a rote song, or show you notes or method books to see which one you can connect with. Each teacher is looking for the aptitude of each beginner. Follow the teacher’s lead – if your student connects with this person, really likes him/her and is eager to start, give it a try. The student should be the one making the choice – I like this teacher! I’m ready!
Or, I’m not sure. Do not hesitate to interview another piano teacher or two or three until you find the right one. Ask the teacher how they pick the books or materials they use. How much is the tuition or cost? Do they have a set program? Do all students have to do the same activities or is it different from student to student? What kinds of activities do you provide for your students? Theory classes or theory instruction? Royal Conservatory of Music Examination (RCM) preparation? Music Teacher National Association (MTNA) has a special Find a Teacher section on their website, National Federation of Music Clubs? The American College of Musicians National Guild of Piano Playing Teachers? Any or all of these, as well as local or national Music Teacher National Association activities, are wonderful incentives and opportunities that excite students and help them learn and grow self-confidence.
Activities and Information
How many Recitals does the teacher offer each year? Are they mandatory? Ask for a Studio Policy and what Tuition the teacher charges. How does vacation time work? Does tuition stay the same each month or does it change according to how many lessons you’ve taken? How does the Makeup Policy work? There is not a standard way music lessons work – each teacher structures it according to his/her availability and schedule.
Some violin teachers have a performance schedule to work around and adjust for the summer performances. Piano teachers may offer lessons online when they are away from the area, and then return to in-person. Some students have the ability to take a lesson or two online while they are away on vacation. There are many opportunities and factors, things that will affect your student(s) and their success.
And then there’s Practice!
Speaking of success, staying with lessons and learning how to practice, through 6 months or a year, no matter the results, is success!. And here’s why: your student is taking on a very new process – learning how to plan to practice, and how to keep practicing daily even when you do not feel like it. There’s preparing for the first recital or sharing music with family or friends. The beginner will learn how to memorize.. Think how this helps beginners prepare for that first report at school in the classroom!
The benefits of learning to play an instrument
To sum it up, the benefits of learning to play an instrument include teaching you how to plan and schedule, and challenging you to learn a new language (the musical language). It also increases your intelligence level, This allows you the opportunity to know you have accomplished something that challenges you on multiple levels. And so, you must give the student time to succeed at all these different levels of accomplishment. Three months is not enough time (well six months isn’t either) but if there are too many challenges might point to a break. Always make an agreement with the student to try it again in a year if at all possible.
Timing is important, but also is communicating with your beginning student. It is vital that the student be at least open to the idea of practice, so help them take ownership. Maybe the beginner can choose the teacher. Let your beginner decide if he/she would like you to stay wat the first few lessons.. This empowerment will help the beginner to take ownership of this process and increase the chances of success.
Encouragement & Success!
Parents can make such a difference by encouraging students in little ways! Stay close during practice to encourage with “That sounds great!” or “ Wow that is really showing improvement!”. It’s the genuine interest that helps them feel that they are not alone. Practice is not easy! Everyone has days they do not want to practice, but stickers, goal setting, bribing yourself – all of it is legal! Help to set a routine that takes away the daily struggle to practice! I’d go for ice cream or a little screen time for the beginner who just completed practice!
This is a wonderful endeavor for you or anyone who really loves music, no matter what the age or background. Ask friends who have students who take piano lessons – often they have a teacher they love and will recommend you. And, they can tell you how their piano teacher does things. Music teachers have more flexibility than ever with combination of in-person, online, or even recorded lessons to fit your schedule. The feeling of accomplishment is so rewarding!
All the best in your search for starting music lessons! Let us know if we can help!
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