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A Parent's Guide to Music Lessons

Updated on March 21, 2019
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Tong Keat has an M.A. in Violin Perf. from MTSU, TN. He is currently a member of the Selangor Symphony Orchestra and Strettosphere Quartet.

Understanding Music Lessons

A good music teacher is not neccessarily a well known musician. However, good music teachers must possess ample knowledge and understanding of their respective fields, experience in both teaching and performing on their respective instruments, and the willingness to share their expertise with the students.

To find a good music teacher, parents must first understand that music learning requires a great deal of time and effort. Apart from regular lessons, which is usually around thirty to sixty minutes a week, the students are expected to practice on their own throughout the week. Some parents enrolled their child for music lessons simply because there is an hour of free time in their hectic weekly schedule, which has been occupied with activities such as gymnastic, swimming, ballet, volleyball, art, foreign language, and others. In such cases, the child can rarely show meaningful progress in music learning no matter how good the teacher is, simply because there is no time for practice.

Once you have accepted that music learning is a long term process that takes time and effort, the next step is to get to know the teacher. There are various genres in music, and for example, classical pianists are trained very differently from jazz or contemporary pianists, even though both share the same rudiments of music theory. If your child has the aspirations to play in a symphony orchestra, you may want to find a teacher who has the background and experience in that. Similarly if your child wants to play in a rock band, he or she may not enjoy learning or practicing the classical repertoire.

Enrolling for Music Lessons

Each teacher and student is unique in their own ways of teaching and learning. Some teachers are very strict that their students must show measurable progress each week, while some are more flexible to allow for the natural development of the student's ability. Students also range from the very enthusiatic ones, to the those who could not care less about their music lessons. As such, there is no such thing as the best music teacher, but it is important to find one that works well with your child.

Some music schools offer trial lesson so that you can decide if you want to enroll your child for the long term. You should make good use of this opportunity to see if the child can take instructions and criticisms from the teacher. While modern parenting often talk about respecting the child's intention and giving them freedom to choose. It is very crucial to understand that for young children, the ultimate decision falls on the parents. It is the parents who decide, whether or not, to enrol their child for music lessons. Any experienced parent know that a child can easily change their mind over anything.

When you sign up for music lessons, you want to find out if the lessons are being conducted one-to-one, in a small group, or in a large group. It is recommended that you sign up for individual lessons so that your child can get the full attention of the teacher, and the teacher is able to guide with a method that works well for your child. However, some children may only respond well when there are peers around. In these cases, you may consider small group lessons. Large group lessons, also known as classroom teaching, usually happen in school settings, or when private music teachers gather all their students together (i.e. studio class).

Maintaining Interest in Music Lessons

Once the child has started taking music lessons, the parents play an important role in supporting and maintaining their interest, while at the same time, teaching them to persevere through difficult times. As parents, it is advisable to communicate with the teacher from time to time to see how your child is progressing. However, being overly anxious of their progress does not help either. Do not be afraid to seek alternatives if the learning process has not been going well for the child or the teacher.

It is also important for parents to keep their child engaged by bringing them to music-related events. A great deal of learning happens outside the studio. This is especially important for teenage students who may want to pursue tertiary education in music. Most of them felt overwhelmed or unprepared when they entered college because they lacked the exposure to what is happening out there, outside of their regular weekly lessons.

Music is a moral law. It gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination…

— Plato

© 2019 Goh Tong Keat

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