Do you ever wonder this: are our kids learning enough in their music lessons? Is it REALLY worth the time and cost?
These are the 5 secrets that I’ve discovered over the last 25 years of music lessons that can help give you some direction and put your mind at ease with your children taking lessons.
SECRET # 1 - Don’t set unrealistic expectations for your kids
People often ask me how long it will take for their kids to learn their instrument. I will tell you this. The first year can be the hardest. Don’t expect them to be little Mozart after just a few months. It takes time. And each child will go at their own pace. The key is that they enjoy it. Otherwise, they won’t stick with it. It’s also important to explain this to your child before they start. I would say if you're going to invest in lessons, give it AT LEAST a year before deciding whether or not to continue.
SECRET # 2 - Practicing does NOT always come naturally for most kids
As a child, I remember that I really didn’t like practicing the piano (which was my instrument). I took music lessons for about 2 years before I really made any significant progress. My parents understandably COULD have told me that since I wasn’t progressing fast enough, I couldn’t have lessons anymore because they were too expensive. Or I wasn’t applying myself enough. Or, it wasn’t for me. Blah blah blah (YOU fill in the blank). Sound familiar? Let me tell you something. After those two years, I started entering piano competitions and ended up winning various competitions (including the Oregon State Piano Competition). But I would argue that those FIRST 2 years were critical in laying the foundation for me long term. The key is this: STICK WITH IT. Don’t give up! Otherwise, they/you will regret it when they get older.
SECRET # 3 - Recitals Recitals Recitals
When I was a student, I use to LIVE for the recitals. I got a chance to shine in front of my parents, grandparents, and anyone else that was there. I have seen countless times kids saying they were tired of taking lessons. And I urged the parents to enroll them in our next recital. Almost every single time, they could hardly wait to come to their next lesson after the recital.
SECRET # 4 - Trophies are critical
The older I get, the more I am convinced that THIS secret is more important than all the others COMBINED. Many studies show that one of the best ways to motivate someone is by giving them recognition. Well, if this is true for adults (which it is), just imagine how true it is for your child. They thrive on recognition. Especially from their teacher! Everybody likes recognition. Who doesn’t LOVE to be given an award for their achievement! As a kid, I always wished my teachers would give me more opportunities to earn awards. Now that I own my own academy, we make a BIG deal of trophies.
SECRET # 5 - Be careful not to compare your child’s progress to another child
This is true, especially within your family. I’ve even seen parents getting competitive with their own kids. But most of the time, it is siblings competing with each other. Some competition is good. But when it gets too competitive, it often results in one of the two children quitting their lessons. There are lots of ways to keep things from getting too competitive. The kids can take different instruments. They can take from different teachers etc... I would say, though, that the most effective way to keep things from getting too competitive is this: Keep it fun. Don’t take it too seriously. At least not until they are serious players. But it shouldn’t be serious at the beginning. Just fun!