07Jan/16

How should parents be involved in their kid’s music education?

How to Help Your Kids Get the Most from Music Lessons

By Remus Badea, Executive Director, American Music Institute

As a parent, you are the first teacher of your children. Most parents are involved in their child’s studies to encourage them to do well in school. Showing your support for your child’s education provides great motivation for them to improve their school performances in the whole year.

There are many ways in which parents can help their child become successful in their music education, especially through their music lessons. Your involvement in helping your children learn music lesson should be in a positive and moderate way. This will help your child experience music as an enjoyable subject and not feel they are being force to study. It is essential that you let your children enjoy their music education.

Advice for Parents of Young Children

To help a young child to be ready in school and for their music class, you can spend time listening with them to some of their favorite music. You can have a collection of songs or nursery rhymes to help them both prepare for and enjoy music. To make it more interesting, you can sing songs together.

As your children become more active and you feel they need extra stimulation, you can look for a group music class. It is important that you see that this class is as much about social skills as it is about music. You make sure your kids mingle with other children in the same age group. You can meet the other parents too so you can check if these parents are happy with the teacher. Reassure your children that you will stay with them in their class, which will create a safe, comfortable learning environment for them.

parents music education

As parents, you should ensure that your child will learn by finding the most appropriate class for your child’s age. Look for a recommended and reputable school that offers great faculty and teaching. American Music Institute offers Suzuki violin and piano lessons, as well as group lessons. We generally recommend individual instrument lessons begin around the age of 4 or 5 years old.

Don’t expect that your kids will play an instrument right away. It is better to keep in your mind that your child needs to develop their motor skills to be successful. In choosing a music school, make sure that your child will not just take a music lesson but will also enjoy their time at the school. Once your child is enrolled in a class, support their music studies. There are teachers who allow parents to attend lessons, though not all do. However, do not distract the teacher or the student during the music lesson.

Once you are at home with your children, you can help them practice what they have learned. It is the responsibility of the parent to encourage their children to engage in consistent practice at home. Children need guidance from their parents and you will also ensure that you can monitor their progress. In practicing at home, keep in mind that you should provide them with a positive environment and not make regular practice a drudgery. It is the best way to ensure long term success.

The best idea is to create a musical culture at home. You can listen to music that both of you like; you can play your radio, download some music, or watch music videos on You Tube to expose young children to different musical styles and composers. Having interesting books about music around will help your kids to be better readers and learn more about music in their own time. If you keep a variety of sheet music in your home, it will provide them a better idea of the different kinds of music that they can aspire to learn to play.

How to Support Your Child’s Music Education (At Any Age)

Every parent should provide the support of their children to make them successful in learning music. However, even though you are always by their side to support them, you still need to ensure that the music teacher of your children has the right philosophy and style in teaching for your child. This is because every student differs in their learning style and the teacher needs to be able to adjust their lessons to fit a student’s learning style. The end goal should be that your children learn how to be a self-reliant musician. They should be able to enjoy and learn music to the fullest extent on their own as they grow old enough to direct their own development as musicians.

kids music lessons

Unfortunately, many of us can think back on a negative experience with music lessons. However, I believe music lessons can benefit every child when they are taught in a positive way. At American Music Institute, our philosophy is that music lessons can be challenging and fun. Wherever you live, be sure to find a music teacher who keeps your child engaged and happy as a learner.

Here’s how to ensure your child has a successful learning experience.

1. Keep them company until they are comfortable taking lessons alone.

2. Have them practice and learn music they enjoy.

3. If they really don’t seem ready, take them out of lessons for a few months.

4. If they really don’t work well with their initial teacher, try another one.

5. Don’t punish them when they don’t practice, encourage them to continue.

6. Don’t force your child to perform if they are not ready.

7. Remember that their music development is for their enjoyment first and foremost.

Between sports and other extracurriculars, your child’s schedule is likely full. Kids today are in more activities than ever. If you’re unsure about adding music lessons, remember the benefits that come with violin or piano lessons. Your child may not pursue a career in music, but she may have an easier time learning math, manage her studies, and working in teams.

What You Should Look for in a Music Teacher

Parents sometimes think that if their child is talented and take lessons with a good musician that their child will learn well. Developing a successful music lesson is a bigger challenge than you may realize.

Musical skill involves the most sophisticated muscle training to hit the right notes (technique), complex aural (listening) training to develop a good ear, a detailed understanding of the concepts, symbols and style of music (sometimes called music theory) and much more. This material must be covered while developing the student’s enthusiasm and love of music.
Many people do not realize that great performers are often not excellent teachers as they have little idea how to teach what they play. Anyone at all can offer music lessons without training. A great start with a good teacher will give your child a great start towards learning their instrument. If you have little or no musical training finding a good teacher can be difficult.

Music Teacher

 

 

 

 

 

Here are a few things to look for.

A. Look for a teacher with a warm, positive personality

Studies have shown that the most top performers began their studies with someone who was caring and made the experience fun. Once the student has fallen in love with the instrument and playing music, the teacher can safely encourage greater discipline in practicing and offer more rigorous critiques of performances. Don’t equate a caring personality with lower standards. Great do not force their students to achieve, rather they guide them to understand what top performance requires and inspire their students to seek to achieve it.

B. Look for a teacher with training in teaching

A music degree does not automatically ensure you a great teacher, but it does raise the odds they have studied teaching. Most music degree programs require some training in teaching. The best way to learn how to teach is to study it a great teacher. In most colleges, teachers will practice teaching music to students under the eye of an experienced music educator.

C. Make sure the teacher will have a clear lesson plan

A good instructor must keep track of students’ progress in many areas such as: learning new pieces and new skills, preparing for performances, plus becoming a well-rounded musician. To research a potential teacher thoroughly, ask them how they do their plans for each lesson. A good teacher should be able to give you a general idea of how your child’s lessons will progress.

How Prevent Your Child From Quitting Music Lessons

1. The first way to combat music lesson dropout is to treat music as important as learning sports and doing homework. After studies have shown that kids who study music score higher in math and reading, work better in teams, and even score higher on the SATs and go to college in higher numbers.

2. If your child is getting frustrated with music lessons, it may be that they don’t have the right tools or practice habits. In other words, they don’t know how to improve. Talk with their music teacher and with your child to figure what they need to make progress again.

3. Remember that music students who are necessarily naturally gifted can get a lot from music lessons and develop enough proficiency to play well. They just have to develop on a slower schedule. It is important to be patient. Kids develop at different speeds across a wide variety of skills.

4. Encourage your child to continue practicing over the summer just like you have them continue to work on their reading and athletics. Many music schools offer low-cost music camps to help keep kids motivated.

5. Seek out opportunities for your child to get performance experience.

This can be a great positive motivator for them to practice and develop their skills.

To be realistic, practicing a musical instrument has its ups and downs. Kids need to be encouraged to practice, but not so that it extinguishes their desire to learn. It’s a balancing act and every child responds to different kinds of motivation. However, I firmly believe that all children are capable of thriving with a musical education, and students will be grateful to their parents for not letting them quit.

Other Resources

The Music Parent’s Guide

Autism & Music: A Parent’s Guide

The Parent’s Music Guide

Remus Badea is Concertmaster of Southwest Symphony Orchestra, adjunct professor at Elmhurst College, and Executive Director of American Music Institute. He teaches violin, viola, cello, and piano.

02Dec/15

How are musicians so creative?

Are musicians more creative and imaginative?

“ In order to compose, all you need to do is remember a tune that nobody else has thought of.”
-Robert Schumann

They say music is the language of our very soul. Music is one of the things that give the most color and spice in our lives and musical creativity and imagination are among the most complex and abstract aspects of human behavior.

When you listen to or hear a new song playing over the radio, the first thing you would probably think of is about how good or perfect it sounds, and not how it was created. All the pieces and albums that we enjoy during our leisure time or when pampering and resting ourselves from a long and tiring day were the products of the musician’s struggles in discovering or composing songs each single day.

The reasons why musicians are more creative and imaginative

Musicians are so creative and imaginative because of how amazing it is that they can make a simple group of words become meaningful and inspire and touch everybody’s heart.  Only the best and most dedicated musician has the passion or craft to create a masterpiece that people will want to listen to over and over again.

“Creativity is more than just being different. Anybody can plan weird; that’s easy. What’s hard is to be as simple as Bach. Making the simple, awesomely simple, that’s creativity” – Charles Mingus

Musical training is associated with an increased in imagination and creativity. Musical talent is a one of a kind talent because a musician can compose a song just by tapping his home furniture or singing right in the shower when he is taking a bath. For a musician, music is everywhere and this is their way of living and their life. Though for some creating a new song or kind of music is a piece of cake, there are elusive questions also that they ask to themselves such as how she can unlock his creative voice or give life and tone to his song lyrics.

New research suggests that musicians may be at their most creative when they are not playing their instrument or singing. By studying musicians and asking them when inspiration struck them, researchers found that breakthrough moments often happened when players were humming to themselves or tapping out rhythms on the table or imagining dance moves inspired by the music.

The researchers concluded that musicians began to make a piece their own when they felt free and flexible enough to be spontaneous and take risks rather than simply rely on external validation from, say, a teacher.

Essentials of musical talent

The essentials of musical talent are freedom, a sense of feeling, and acommitment to create music that will be loved by the audience, even if the audience only exists in her imagination. Of all people in the world, musicians are the most emotional aside from being the most creative and imaginative.

Psychologists have found seven attributes of highly creative people, especially musicians.

Associative orientation: Imaginative, playful, have a wealth of ideas, ability to be committed, sliding transitions between fact and fiction.

Need for originality: Resists rules and conventions. Have a rebellious attitude because of a need to do things no one else does.

Motivation: Have a need to perform, goal oriented, innovative attitude, stamina to tackle difficult issues.

Ambition: Have a need to be influential, attract attention and recognition.

Flexibility: Have the ability to see different aspects of issues and come up with optimal solutions.

Low emotional stability: Have a tendency to experience negative emotions, greater fluctuations in moods and emotional state, failing self-confidence.

Low sociability: Have a tendency not to be very considerate, are obstinate and find faults and flaws in ideas and people.

Being expressive, joyful, and humorous are just some of the things that come right under the heading of musical talent, creativity, and imagination and they must never be associated with being neurotic or being crazy. The world of music is not like the world of science where things can be invented or discovered accidentally. This kind of course or field requires a lot of sacrifices, passion, and dedication just to be able to create a piece which can represent the life of a person or his feelings in a certain way which is truly effective and touching while being good to listen to as well.

In a study by neuroscientists of jazz musicians, researchers found that when jazz musicians improvise, the brain switches and the lateral prefrontal lobes responsible for conscious self-monitoring became less engaged. Musicians turn off the self-censoring area of the brain so they can generate novel ideas without restrictions. Interestingly, the improvising brain activates many of the same brain centers as language does, reinforcing the idea that the back and forth of improvisation between musicians is akin to its own language.

Have you recently attended a wedding celebration or mass? It would not be that magical, touching and memorable if there wasn’t any background music while the beautiful bride is walking down the aisle to finally tie the knot and let the wedding bells ring.

Without the musical talent of the musicians, our day to day life, celebrations and other events would never be as satisfying. Think of this, most musicians create songs that tell something about their life and experiences. Even if they are very happy, sad or lonely, we can still expect that they can create beautiful songs because of their musical talent. Through the past years since the first time that people discovered the wonders of music, it has been already a part of every man’s life since the joy that it offers makes our life more beautiful, colorful and interesting.

Musicians seem to have no fear of exploring the unknown, entering into the creative world of the unconscious. They all have this incredible drive to create. Keith Richards said, “If you’re a musician, you can never really stop playing, even if you don’t do any gigs or you retire. You’re still in a way playing inside yourself.”

 

 

 

18Sep/15

Why do students drop out of music lessons?

Why do most people drop out of music lessons?

Remus BadeaRemus Badea, Executive Director, American Music Institute

There is no doubt that music is one way that a select few can make a lot of money. However, that does not come that easily. In other words, you need to put in a lot of effort before you can start reaping in rewards from your music career. One such effort is studying in music lessons. But not everyone who enrolls in music lessons ends up achieving what they wanted. What prompts someone talented to leave the music lessons they need to develop?

As an art, music has to be formally learned to bring out the best of person’s musical talent. It is a journey and a long one that requires patience, practice, and perseverance. Not many, sorry to say, soldier on consistently to the ultimate goal they had in mind of becoming a musician, simply because they prematurely ended their studies. Why do so many people drop out of music lessons?

Male Pupil Playing Trumpet In High School Orchestra

Absence of love and passion for the music theory

Yes, you may be talented, but those that don’t have enough enthusiasm or enough passion towards music end up dropping out. Passion is the music engine propeller.

Too high expectations

High expectations are important for success in anything, however, too much of it will nose dive your talent. If you go into music lessons expecting it to be easy to learn you will tend to drop out of the lessons, never to be seen again.

Ego

Whenever you walk into a music class, there is a tendency to rank yourself too highly in comparison to other student musicians. To your surprise the roomful of students has guys more talented than you. This creates a complete reversal of your personal expectations graph, then discouragement sets in and some students drop out. You have to be humble to succeed as a student of music (or anything, for that matter).

Practice makes perfect, but not to some

The music theory taught in class is not enough to put you at the top of the game. This calls for dedication in practicing to perfect what has been learned in your lessons. Students who rely on these lessons only, end up having hoarse voices, uncoordinated chords and so on.

piano lesson 1

Wavered Focus

You may wonder how focus may lead one to quit music lessons. Focus means the attention that is paid to something. Usually music lessons dropouts have very poor concentration and attention levels both in class and at home while practicing. Distractions like phones, friends and multitasking messes with one’s progress and understanding. With these misses, their progress slows and their interest in learning music stalls, leading them to drop out.

Deficiency in moral support

For any adult or children taking music lessons, moral support from teachers, parents and friends is paramount to guarantee the success. This inspiration from family and friends, however small, can be enough to motivate the student to success.

Teaching mode

The student may dislike the teaching technique of the teacher and this may lead them to quit lessons, since the flow of knowledge from teacher to student has been derailed. Unfortunately, the student may quit lessons rather than change teachers.

Tight Schedules

Music lessons require a lot of work and dedication for talent to shine. It takes a lot of assignments and practice, i.e., doing one thing over and over again in a week. Some students find these routines very boring and tiresome and they end up exiting lessons.

To avoid drop outs, teachers should teach professionally. Students should be passionate about the art of music and dedicate time and resources to get most out of their lessons. Parents and the friends should offer moral support and much-needed inspiration to students. Finding a place for practicing in the student’s schedule of work/school, family, friends, sports, etc., is key to preventing burn-out.

Did you know that those who attend music lessons and finish them diligently are found to be sharper in other fields? This becomes a win- win for music students. Press on till the end!

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Remus Badea is Concertmaster of Southwest Symphony Orchestra, adjunct professor at Elmhurst College, and Executive Director of American Music Institute. He teaches violin, viola, cello, and piano.