The Dream Student
Every teacher’s dream is the dedicated student who comes to lessons enthusiastically, brings in their own musical ideas, composes without being asked, practices for an hour a day and volunteers to perform on every public performance. Our reality is a mixed bag of learners who have elements mentioned here, but also have a lot of time constraints on their schedules, self doubt, fear of making mistakes and never feeling like they are “good enough.” This is true for children as well as adults.
Who Should Take Lessons?
Anyone who is interested in the piano, self development, growth and looking for a hobby! If you can find 10 minutes a day that you can dedicate to focused learning, then you are ready. There are a lot of different types of students, learners and people who have natural strengths conducive to learning a new skill. That said, if you want to do any of the above (learn how to play, grow, find a new hobby, etc…) please understand that you are committing to learning a language, which takes time. Many of you know I have a “21-Days to Piano Pro” plan that is available through Musical Minds Online. Newsflash: This requires far more than 10 minutes a day. While the statement is true that I will take you from beginner to where many pros are who make a living with this knowledge (and sometimes less!), it is also true that if you don’t use those skills, you will lose them. So if you work REALLY hard for 21 days, much like if you do a weight-loss bootcamp, you will simply gain the weight back if you stop. In this case, you will lose everything you worked hard at from those 21 days. And, it’s also just a beginning to be able to understand and make music. Music study is one of those things that, like learning and using a language, if repeated purposefully enough over a long enough period of time, will stick for a lifetime.
I Want my Child to Take Lessons
Awesome! We want your child to take lessons too. However, it is YOUR responsibility to help us do our jobs well and to protect your investment. I promise you that it is an anomaly for students to WANT to practice. Think about it…it’s an isolated activity that might be challenging. It’s a special kind of child that wants to do that. So, you might need to get creative in getting them to the piano, and it might be an activity that you need to involve yourself in, at least in the beginning while they establish their habits and gain confidence in their process.
- IMMEDIATELY after the lesson: Consider asking your child to show you what they learned in their lesson today
- SAME DAY: Have your child purposefully repeat everything on the assignment sheet 3 times before they go to sleep that night (retention rate will be significantly higher if you do this as compared to waiting until the next day)
- MORE DAYS THAN NOT: Make a chore chart, set a reminder in the calendar, etc…whatever you need to do, make sure that 10-15 minutes a day of practice occurs. This will be a bare minimum in the beginning stages to yield the kind of results that make the child feel good because they are moving forward, make the parent feel like the investment is paying off, and provide enough practice at home that the teacher can see and hear the progress in the lessons
It’s important not to bring your own emotional baggage to your lessons. Many people started taking lessons but due to some poor teaching out there, quit. This is your opportunity to start fresh and help your child work through the challenges (and joy) of becoming good at something all on their own.
I Want to Learn How to Play!
It’s never too late! For adult learners, we recommend scheduling the first or last lesson of the day because then it’s not a big deal if you miss the lesson. In a typical 16-week semester, adults attend between 10 and 12 lessons simply because life is busy. We get that. And, if you are able to practice for 10 minutes or so, 3-4 times per week, we basically think you’re a rockstar. If you can commit to the long term, you will make progress simply by showing up each week, and the practice is extra. This is because your brain is different than a child’s, so please don’t apply this mindset with your children.
How Long Does it Take to Learn?
As I mentioned above, in as few as 21 days! That said, it takes years to become truly proficient, and every learner is different. Every brain is different, every person’s life experience is unique and it depends so much on the age of the person who is starting. A 6 year old will likely progress slower than a 16 year old. Students of all ages should be making music from the very first lesson, but I think what the question really means is, how long will it take me to sound good? Truly, at the end of my Series 1, you’ll sound great. That may take 21 days, that may take 4 months, or that may take a year. It all depends on how much you want to put into your lessons. My average student stays with me for about 6 years, though many stay from elementary school through high school. And the reason why students quit has nothing to do with me. At the 6th year, most students:
- have a skillset that allows them to play music they like, at a high level, which I have found is the main reason most people want to play
- are playing at an early advanced level, so truly they can play most things they want
- they can arrange music to sound really good
- have an ability to improvise and make their own music
- are busy with other life stuff and play music to relax
There is a specific type of student that takes lessons beyond this level, and those are the high achievers whose natural strengths include discipline and achievement. These learners continually want to improve and feel accomplished using music. Their goals are different than the students who take for around 6 years…while those learners probably enjoy elements of discipline and feeling accomplishment, what’s important to them is using music to relieve stress and to give them something to do, where they aren’t challenged to continually improve.
Music for Life
Music is one of the most amazing gifts you can give to your children, grandchildren and/or yourself. It’s a long journey, it’s challenging and takes time, but I think is truly one of the most transformative experiences of your life.