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Music Lessons and the Mind

Music and the mind

Recent professional studies have determined music lessons for children are an empowering experience and enhance cognitive abilities and help grow and develop young minds. The interest in music lessons for children as a developmental aid comes on the heels of deep cuts in music education in public schools. As music and the arts continue to be deleted from schools, it becomes increasingly important to seek music lessons for children outside the public schools.  As music instructors, it’s important to help parents grasp that learning to play music has a far more reaching effect than just learning to play songs or scales on an instrument. 

Music lessons versus other lessons

A German study in 2013 cites a significant difference between learning to play music and participating in other skill building activities for children. “Music improves cognitive and non-cognitive skills more than twice as much as sports, theater or dance,” cites the study by German Socio-Economic panel in 2013. Children who take music lessons “have better cognitive skills and school grades and are more conscientious, open and ambitious.” The act of developing an open and ambitious attitude is a life lesson as much as it is a music lesson. Children who take music lessons learn early that discipline, productive practice and having fun as they are learning to play music are lessons that carry through a lifetime. 

Music lessons enhance verbal and reading skills

Children who learn to read music apply that knowledge to verbal and reading skills. There is a connection between the visual nature of note reading and the ability to decipher letters and words on a page. For children, music lessons can improve pitch and pitch recognition is a foundation of verbal skills. Parents may report better grades in reading, verbal expression, and an improvement in attention span for children who take music lessons. 

Music Lessons and mathematics

Music is math and the development of mathematical skills is vastly improved when children take music lessons. Greek philosopher and mathematician Pythagoras said, “There is geometry in the humming of the strings, there is music in the spacing of the spheres.”  Music lessons teach children the values of numbers as they learn to read notes. Spatial recognition is also improved and a sense of mathematical order as they pursue music lessons. 

Summing up

The value of music lessons and the mind is undeniable and all music instructors should be able to talk with parents about not only musical instruction for children but the extreme enhancement to other facets of learning. Music is such a pleasure and such a fun way to accelerate learning in any educational pursuit! 

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How to find a music teacher for all levels

Guitar lessons

A wonderful music teacher can inspire creativity, discover passion and instill a sense of wonder in any student. The right teacher for each skill level is something to be considered as you begin or continue your musical journey. Let’s talk about things to consider when searching for a music instructor.

Ascertaining a skill level

It’s great to know where to begin, right? Are you a true beginner, or do you have some musical skill? Are you rediscovering your talent or starting from scratch?

It’s a good idea to figure out your skill level or the skill level of your child as you’re searching for an instructor. A purposeful dialog that addresses musical skills you have accomplished and what you want to learn helps a potential instructor know how to teach to a student. Talking to your child about what they want to learn from a music instructor is very helpful as children are often shy around new people. Take some time to really thing about where you are skill wise and where you want to be and what you would like to learn.

Personalities and learning styles are important

Children gravitate to funny, cool, young personalities. An older learner may be much more comfortable learning to play music from someone closer to their own age. Teenagers may learn best from young adults. Consider your learning style or the learning style of your child. Does your child learn best by listening and playing? Or is reading music a skill they would like to accomplish? Do they like big personalities or are they more comfortable around quieter people?If you’re a parent, you’re well aware of how your child learns best and what sort of instructor they would gravitate to and learn best from. If you’re an adult student, it’s good to ask yourself questions about the perfect instructor for your particular style and personality.

What skills you want to learn?

Are you interested in being a performing musician? A studio musician? Perhaps an orchestra player? Take time to focus on the trek of your musical path and be sure your instructor matches your goals. There are plenty of students who are not interested in a music career, and just want to be able to play and sing. Some students are music career driven and want an instructor who not only know how to play, but that guide them in music career choices. If teaching is your interest, you’ll want an instructor that is adept in music education and understands the dynamics of teaching others. Consider what you want to learn and the projected path of your musical career when choosing an instructor.

Let Melody Music Studios help you find a great teacher!

Kathi Kerr, our founder, has been teaching since 1985 and she is very adept at matching students with instructors. All of our instructors are professional musicians and are screened before they are hired. Instead of striking out on your own, allow Melody Music Studios to help you find a great instructor for you or your child!

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Take Music Lessons On Line This Summer!

Summer music lessons on line
Don’t forget about music lessons this summer!

With summer right around the corner, we all think of summer activities that have nothing to do with education…right?  Understandably, kids are ready to take a break from thinking, and parents are ready to not have to fight their kids to do their homework!  We all need breaks, but is that really good for kids?  Schools have (finally) realized a full 3 months of no school is not always a good thing for young children, and are adapting a year round schedule with more (and more often) breaks throughout the year.  This is, in my opinion, the best way to learn.  This applies to adults as well as children.  The old saying “The hardest part to (fill in the blank) is getting started” or “restarted”.  So why do we think it’s ok to take a long break from music lessons?

For families that have summer activities that take them out of town, it may be impossible to continue their music lessons. So why not take your music teacher with you?  Taking on line lessons using skype, facetime, google hangouts, etc, is fast becoming an alternative way of taking lessons, and a great option to continue music lessons while traveling.  And certainly better than no lessons at all!  At Melody Music Studios, most of our staff offer on line lessons, so check with them about this option. If you’re taking lessons outside of Melody Music Studios and your current music instructor doesn’t offer that, please feel free to contact us at 800-Melody 1 (800-635-6391) or email us at melodymusicstudios@gmail.com. You can also go to our website for information, then click your instrument for our staff. Click or tap any instructor for their complete bio page, including their picture, training, performance recordings and a “meet the instructor” video. Our bio pages make you feel like you already know the music instructor before even meeting him or her!

Make this the best summer yet and have fun, but don’t forget to continue learning to keep your brain active as well as your body! Both are important in the learning and growing stages. I wish everyone a fun and safe summer!

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Should you force your child to take music lessons?

And the answer is…..(wait for it…) YES!  As parents (myself included), don’t we “force” our child(ren) to go to school, brush their teeth, and go to bed at a certain time?  If our child said “I don’t want to go to school”, do we say, “OK, sure you can stay home…no problem!”….NO!  We say, “Sorry honey, school is good for you and you’ll thank me one day”.  I know what you’re saying, music lessons are not part of the core subjects needed for a child to earn a living…or is it?  With all the studies that have been done on the effects of music lessons on the brain (which I could discuss in a 10 page post) , you would think schools would put more importance on music education. But wait, schools are CANCELLING music education for lack of funds (or they say).  So that leaves parents with the task of taking music lessons into their own hands and signing up for private music lessons.  I know there are families that are unable to afford music lessons, which greatly saddens me, because I think every child should have the opportunity to learn and study an instrument.  And sadly, a lot of parents that CAN afford music lessons, allow their child to quit after just a few lessons.  And many blogs I’ve read tell parents not to “force” their child to take (or continue) lessons if they’re not interested.  In my opinion, that’s bad advise because most children are going to say no to studying anything if given the chance.  But are we doing our child a favor by allowing them to quit after a few lessons, or not start at all?  Are we teaching them it’s ok to quit when something is difficult?  Are we taking away the chance to teach the child how to stick with something that takes longer than 30 seconds to acquire a skill for?  Are we taking away an opportunity that could be great for them as adults? 

In my over 30 years of offering music lessons and speaking with thousands of adults, I hear two stories:  “I wish I could have taken music lessons as a child”, or “I wish my parents wouldn’t have let me quit!”.  Now the first story is sad when a child that WANTS to have the opportunity to learn to sing or play an instrument and can’t, but even sadder is when an adult regrets having quit lessons, and wishes he or she could enjoy the gift of music now in his or her life.  I believe it’s never too late to learn an instrument, but there are advantages to learning music as a child while they’re in the early development.  And you never know what a child could have done with the gift of music in their life as they turn into an adult.  But without the opportunity, we will never know!

Now I understand that music is not going to be every child’s “thing”.  In teaching hundreds of students, 99% of them will never use music as a career in his or her life.  Is it still a great thing to offer them lessons?  Of course!  Even though it may not be a chosen career, it could have a great impact in whatever career they DO choose.  Music lessons have so many pieces of the pie that are great tools for most occupations; from mathematical skills, discipline, creativity, social skills, and most importantly, confidence.  When a student learns to master singing or playing an instrument, which takes a lot of time to acquire, it gives the child confidence and takes away the fear of learning other new things.  Since most of the population never learn to master music, it gives a student a special pride knowing he or she has accomplished something that most people never achieve.  That can make the difference in a child’s choice of occupation and determination to go far in life.  

When my two oldest sons were in middle school, I “forced” them to be in my keyboard class I was teaching at the time.  It was a year long (the longest class I EVER taught…), and they begged me to quit almost the entire time.  Of course I said “not on your life will you quit my class!”.  It paid off!  Years later my oldest son thanked me for NOT letting him quit, and he now uses what he learned for a career in music and recording.  Remember when I said they’ll thank you one day?  It really does happen, you just have to be patient.  

I know what you’re saying, how do you get your child to stick with it?  One thing I suggest is giving a time frame for completing the lessons if he or she is wanting to quit.  If your child has only just started the lessons (and usually that’s when they want to quit because it’s difficult at first), you can tell them they’ll be taking lessons for an X amount of time.  I suggest a year for a beginner before letting them quit, because it normally takes from 9 months to a year to get beyond what I call the “beginner’s hump”.  After about a year, the student will develop a skill that makes it more fun to sing or play an instrument.  At that point, you won’t have to try so hard to make them continue if it’s something they enjoy learning.  If it’s not their cup of tea, then stopping the lessons is appropriate at this time.  At least your child will know what they DON’T want to do in life. 

Another complaint I hear (and hear often) is their child won’t practice.  I think this is the worst reason for parents to cancel their child’s music lessons.  Do you take a child out of school because they won’t do their homework?  Practicing is actually the part of music lessons that I believe helps build the discipline a child will need in life.  I have written a Practicing Tips article that give ideas on how to practice that is helpful to parents.  The main suggestion I have is scheduling practice times, the same as the lessons are scheduled to become a part of the child’s routine.  It could be before or after homework, dinner, first thing in the morning or when coming home from school; whatever works best in his or her schedule.  Once it’s a routine in your child’s life, it won’t be forgotten or become a shouting match to practice. 

So the bottom line is, parents, don’t be afraid to be the parent!  Your child(ren) will thank you as an adult when they realize you did what was best for them, and not what made you parent of the year!  After all, that’s what your job is, to offer the most opportunities for your child(ren) and create a human being that will be the best he or she can be!