Sheila’s Hopes and Dreams for her Music Students

Jack shows promise in the field of piano technology.

Thank you for choosing me to teach your child a musical instrument! I want every child to feel successful and also to enjoy learning music. I also want you, the parent, to feel like you are giving your child a gift of music that they will always appreciate, even well into their adult years. I know that I will forever be grateful to my parents for surrounding me with music and musical opportunities.

In order for your child to succeed in their lessons, I ask you to keep the following in mind:

* Like any skill, learning a musical instrument requires regular practice. Please make sure your child practices daily on their music lessons. There are a couple of ways to approach this and since you, the parent, know your child’s learning style better, you have some influence here.

* You can have your child practice a set time every day for a certain amount of minutes. If your child is young and a beginner, I would suggest a 10 to 15 minute amount of time each day. As your child gets older and progresses in their lessons, you may extend that time or divide it into two practice periods per day, if your child needs shorter practice periods. Some children are highly self-motivated and some are not. You will know if your child needs a daily reminder to practice.

* If setting a timer doesn’t work for your child, try telling your child to practice each song they are learning three times each. The minutes will tick away and they won’t even realize it!

* Life happens! If your child gets sick and doesn’t practice for three days in a row, they may not be ready for their next lesson. If that is the case, reschedule your lesson. I don’t want to waste your money and I also don’t want to have to reassign the same songs for another week because they aren’t ready to advance to the next lesson.

* Some parents complain, “I can’t get my child to practice!” I once asked a mother, herself a singer, about this challenge she had with her daughter who took piano lessons. She said, “For months and months we nagged our daughter to practice her piano and just couldn’t get her to do it regularly. We finally decided to let her continue taking lessons, even if she didn’t practice, because we knew that at least once a week, she was getting exposure to music and we felt like that was important to us and for her.” Today, this young woman plays the guitar and sings regularly at church.

* Things change. I’ve had students who were very “meh” at first, not very engaged and then all of a sudden, something clicked! Some song made them feel successful and proud of themselves and they really started to get into their music and even started taking their instrument with them on family vacations. Every child is different. Give it some time to see if music clicks with your child. Who knows, they may decide that yes, music is great, but how about the ukulele instead of the piano?

* Expose your child to music as much as possible, especially if you are not a musician. Watch music videos or musicals on TV as a family. Take them to live concerts. Seek out the colleges in your community that provide free or lower cost concerts for the community. Some towns have free music downtown during the summer. Some towns have street musicians at every corner. Let your child see what‘s out there in the world of music.

* If you must cancel a lesson, please try to do so at a minimum of 24 hours in advance. This helps me with my planning. I will try to offer a make up lesson if I am available or you can just skip the lesson and resume the next week. I do understand things can happen right before your lesson time… a flat tire, your kid starts throwing up or the dog got out of the fence but do call me to cancel as much in advance as possible. If your child repeatedly misses lessons, does not practice regularly or is uncooperative as a student, I reserve the right to decline to continue teaching your child. My style of teaching, such as expecting your child to practice, show up for each lesson and listen attentively, may not be a good fit for you and your child.

* If you are late for a lesson, please remember that I may not be able to tack on 10 minutes at the end of their lesson time because they were 10 minutes late. Sometimes, I have other students after your child’s lesson and I am not going to push their lesson time to a later time slot to accommodate your lateness.

* If you need to be early to your lesson, let me know in advance. I may or may not be able to adjust my teaching schedule to accommodate an earlier time slot.

* Give your child a year, at least, to decide if music is for them. You won’t know in two months or even three months. A year of disciplined study and practice is a good amount of time to decide if this is a path you should continue to offer your child. You may decide at the end of the year to switch instruments. If you have done all the things… exposed your child to music regularly (concerts, street musicians, music videos, etc.), provided lessons, offered to switch instruments and you are still fighting tooth and nail to get them to practice, maybe music is not for them. Maybe they are more visual and want a different kind of art exposure or they love to write. Either way, I have never heard an adult say, “I regret that I took piano lessons (or some other instrument) when I was a kid.” Most adults say, “I wish I had stuck with my 🎶 lessons!”