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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!  

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Melody Music Studios-who are we anyway?

KathiKerrOwner

Hi, my name is Kathi Kerr, owner of Melody Music Studios.  I grew up in a musical family and started playing the piano before I can remember NOT playing the piano.  My dad plays the upright bass by ear, and my mom is a classically trained flutist, singer, and pianist.  Without realizing it, I had the best of both worlds, reading music and playing by ear!  I was self taught until 7th grade when a local piano teacher heard me play and offered to teach me…for free!  She heard my passion for playing the piano and wanted to guide me.  Of course my parents wouldn’t let her teach me for free, but through my years with her (through my senior year of high school) she helped guide my initial training, as there were gaps in my knowledge, of course.  My final training was at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, where Julliard graduate, Mac McCray, took me from a raw talent to a well oiled pianist.  To this day, I hear his voice in my head when I practice.

During my college years, I never thought I would teach, I just wanted to perform!  But as a broke college student, I decided to give teaching piano a try, I mean it’s better than flipping burgers, right?  Since I didn’t have my own studio, I taught the students right in their own home.  No one was doing that at the time, but it was great for me and great for the student to play on their own piano during the lesson.  Once I saw the growth and changes in my students as they learned piano, I fell in love with teaching and seeing them turn it into their passion as well!  Before I knew it, I was in it full board!  I remember in those days using a pay phone to get my messages and returning calls from students.  I connected with a local music store, put up flyers on telephone poles, and did whatever I could to get more students.  Then I decided to put an (expensive) ad in the phone book (remember those???).  However, by the time the phone book came out, (and I was contracted to pay it for a year), I was booked!  So I talked to the store owner asking her what I should do.  She replied with an “off the cuff” comment, “why not farm them out to another piano instructor?”.  It was like a spotlight that went off in my head and the angels all singing in unison!  It was a moment in time that changed my life (and she probably doesn’t even remember saying it to me!).  So, the journey began to start hiring professional instructors to send students to.  I started with an adult intermediate student I was teaching at the time, and he said “Sure, I’ll take on beginner students…”  So Melody Music Studios was formed in 1989 with my first instructor teaching the students I sent his way.  Later that year, I opened a studio in Castro Valley, CA and started teaching privately and group keyboard classes from a book I wrote.  In 1990, I thought, why not add other instruments? So I began hiring music teachers that offered other instruments, like voice, guitar, drums, violin, any and all instruments.  In 1992, I moved my headquarters from the SF Bay area to Nashville TN.  With the help of technology, I opened my first “branch” in 2001 in Atlanta GA.  Since then I’ve opened up over 50 cities across the country, hiring instructors for all instruments, voice, and singing.

I still remember being told at the start of my teaching, that I would get tired of offering in home lessons.  But here I am, over 30 years later, still in love with offering both in home and studio lessons for my own students.  While my performing career has taken a back seat to teaching, I have no regrets because the feeling of giving to someone else is far greater than the feeling of “receiving applause” from an audience.

What makes Melody Music Studios unique is our passion for teaching…the business is my second passion.  I make sure to only hire the VERY best instructors with the same passion and love for teaching that I do.  I have two main philosophies:  1) Offer a positive and fun environment, where students can learn without feeling pressure and that mistakes are a part of the learning progress, yet being challenged at the same time, and 2) tailoring lessons to the individual in terms of their pace, interests and goals.  Also, the student can choose a traditional lesson (reading music) or by ear, where my roots came in handy!  There are many studios that teach ONLY classical and traditional, and some studios only offer by ear.  I believe that BOTH are equally important in terms of the full musical education of the student.  However, for a beginner student, it’s best to focus on one path at a time.  For the older student, he or she may only be interested in one way, either reading music or playing by ear.  I think it’s perfectly fine for a beginner student to choose one over the other, at least to get started, as you never know where it may lead!  Goals and interests may change and evolve during the course of the lessons.  We teach in a structured yet flexible way, and are happy to adjust to the interests and goals of each student as the lessons progress.

Our hope is to offer music lessons in a way that all can learn and enjoy the wonderful gift of music for their life time, for whatever may be his or her longtime goals in life.