“How much should my child be practicing every week?”
Well, of course, EVERY day would be best. But you also don’t want to set them up for something they cannot maintain. 5 days a week is probably the most reasonable.
But before you worry about how many days a week they are practicing, make sure they have all the tools to practice during the week. The key is preparation.
One more note about practicing: it is usually a good idea for children to not take more than one day off from practicing at a time. The reason for this is simply that two full days of time away from their instrument will result in them forgetting much of what they were working on. They’ll get rusty.
So if they practice 5 days a week, maybe instead of taking the weekend off, just skip one day during the week and one day on the weekend.
“How long will my child have to take lessons before they know how to play the instrument?”
It is truly impossible to answer this for everyone. Some people may take lessons for a couple years and be perfectly proficient at their instrument.
Others may take lessons for 5 years and still struggle with basic concepts.
It really just depends on a few key things:
This last point (#3) is important because if you really think about it. Anybody who is truly great at something must commit many, many years of their lives to it. It’s not like they can just take lessons for a few months and be rock stars.
It’s a commitment. Often times a life-long commitment.
What’s great about music, however, is that the enjoyment comes not just in the playing but also in the process of learning.
Besides, most things that are worthwhile don’t happen overnight.
The key here is commitment. Stick with it. You will never regret sticking with music.
“How often should we come for lessons to get the best result?”
Over the years, we have had students come once a month, twice a month, once a week, twice a week, three times a week, and various other frequencies. And I can tell you that the best frequency is once a week.
It’s just enough time for the child to practice without developing bad habits. It’s not too often for them to get burnt out.
“What's the best teaching method to use for my child?”
I don’t think there is one right answer here. In fact, I know there isn’t. What I DO think is that it’s WAY more important that they find the right TEACHER regardless of what method they teach.
In addition to the right teacher, the students need to be plugged into a system that gives them the opportunity to perform and earn rewards for their progress. This is critical and far too often overlooked by teachers.
These two keys are FAR more important than any specific teaching method used.
“What do I do when my child says they don’t want to take lessons anymore?”
The first question I would ask the student would be, “why don’t you want to take lessons?”
If they say they don’t like their teacher because they are mean, then you need to talk to the teacher and find out what is going on.
If they say they just don’t like to practice, then you would want to make sure you and the teacher are giving them proper motivation to continue (do they get a chance to perform at least once a year, are they earning trophies and certificates for their progress, etc.… Once again, don't underestimate the power of rewards and recognition.)
If they don’t give a reason other than that, they are just tired of it and want to quit. Well, then it just comes down to their/your level of commitment, which of course, I cannot answer for you as it is a personal choice.
I will, however, say this: You will get out of it what you put into it. EVERYONE comes to a point in lessons when it gets hard.
The ultimate question then becomes this: Will your child regret quitting when they are older?
My guess is yes.
Let me put it to you this way: Have you ever heard someone say, “I wish I had stuck with my music lessons when I was a kid.” (I have personally heard countless people say this)
how about this:
“Gosh, I really wish I had quit my music lessons when I was a kid…” (I’ve NEVER heard anyone say that.. Have YOU?)
“My child says they want to take a different instrument. Should I let them switch, or should I make them stick with it?”
Depends on how long they have been taking their current instrument. Personally I think 2 years is a good amount of time for a child to get a good handle on an instrument before exploring a new one.
If they have only been taking lessons on their current instrument for 6 or 8 months, then I would be careful. Because once they move to the new instrument, they may never play the old one again. ESPECIALLY if they never learned how to play a song or anything on the old instrument.
I’ve noticed that if a child takes lessons on two separate instruments. The strangest thing happens. They progress faster on each instrument.
The reason for this, I think, is because they are practicing twice as long per day (practicing two different instruments), and so they are developing themselves musically at a faster rate.
CAUTION: Don’t let them take lessons on two separate instruments unless they are prepared to practice twice as long per day!
“My child has never taken lessons before. What’s the best instrument to start with?”
First, I would say ask THEM what they want to learn. If they truly have no preference, I would say piano. It’s the easiest instrument to learn at the beginning. The key for any of us when learning something new is to get results as quickly as possible. This gives us confidence, which leads to motivation, which leads to more learning.