Learning the piano is an exciting journey that requires dedication, practice, and guidance from a skilled teacher. Many aspiring musicians wonder how much progress they can achieve in just one year of piano lessons. In this blog post, we will explore the key factors that contribute to your growth as a pianist within a year's time, focusing on practice time, lesson length, fundamental skills, sight-reading, repertoire, and daily engagement. Whether you're searching for piano lessons in Stafford, Virginia, or any other area, this guide will provide valuable insights for beginners seeking to make significant strides in their musical journey.
Practice Time and Lesson Length
One of the critical factors influencing your progress is the amount of time you dedicate to practice between lessons. Consistent and focused practice is key to developing your skills as a pianist. As a general guideline, aim for at least 30 minutes to one hour of practice per day. However, keep in mind that the quality of practice matters more than the quantity. Ensure that you engage in deliberate practice, focusing on specific techniques or pieces, rather than mindlessly running through exercises.
Additionally, the length of your weekly piano lesson plays a crucial role in your development. Typically, beginners start with 30-minute lessons, gradually progressing to 45 minutes or even an hour as they advance. Longer lessons allow for more in-depth exploration of concepts, repertoire, and personalized guidance from your piano teacher.
Emphasis on Fundamentals: Note and Rhythm Recognition
Building a strong foundation is essential for any aspiring pianist. Note and rhythm recognition form the backbone of your musical understanding. During your piano lessons, your teacher will emphasize these fundamental skills to ensure your progress. By focusing on note reading exercises and rhythm recognition drills, you'll develop the ability to read sheet music fluently and play with accurate timing.
Your piano teacher will introduce various techniques and exercises to strengthen your note and rhythm recognition skills. These exercises may include sight-reading assignments, clapping rhythms, and playing scales to reinforce your understanding of music theory. These basics need to be deeply ingrained, so practicing these fundamentals regularly and consistently will significantly contribute to your progress over the course of a year.
Developing Good Sight-Reading Skills
Sight-reading is an invaluable skill for any pianist. It allows you to play music you've never encountered before with reasonable accuracy. During your piano lessons, your teacher will guide you through sight-reading exercises and introduce you to new pieces to practice this skill.
To improve your sight-reading abilities, dedicate a portion of your practice time each day to sight-reading. Start with simpler pieces and gradually progress to more complex ones. Focus on playing fluently, without getting stuck on every note or rhythm. With regular practice, you'll become more comfortable and confident in your sight-reading skills, enabling you to explore a wider range of repertoire. This is typically a neglected skill, but extremely important since having great sight-reading ability will allow you to work through more music quickly.
Playing a Variety of Repertoire
Playing a diverse range of repertoire is crucial to your growth as a pianist. Your piano teacher will carefully select pieces that are appropriate for your skill level, gradually increasing the difficulty as you progress. Beginning piano lessons in the Virginia Beach area will expose you to various musical styles and genres.
Exploring different types of music will enhance your technical skills, musicality, and overall understanding of the instrument. Your piano teacher will guide you in interpreting the music, understanding the composer's intent, and mastering the techniques required for each piece. Regularly performing pieces from different eras and styles will enrich your musical experience and expand your abilities.
Playing Daily to Build Familiarity with the Piano
Consistency is key when learning any instrument, and the piano is no exception. To make significant progress in one year, it's essential to engage with the piano on a daily basis. Even if you can only spare a few minutes, sitting down at the piano regularly will help you build familiarity with the keys, develop muscle memory, and strengthen your overall technique.
In addition to your focused practice sessions, take time to explore the piano beyond your assigned repertoire. Experiment with improvisation, play simple tunes by ear, and explore different sounds and textures. This exploration will enhance your creativity and deepen your connection with the instrument.
Learning the piano is a rewarding and fulfilling endeavor that requires commitment, practice, and guidance from a skilled teacher. By dedicating consistent practice time between lessons, participating in lessons of appropriate length, emphasizing fundamental skills, developing sight-reading abilities, exploring a variety of repertoire, and engaging with the piano daily, you can make remarkable progress within one year.
If you're located in the Stafford, Virginia, area, The Music Studio currently has a full staff of experienced, professional piano teachers who can provide excellent guidance and support on your musical journey.
Embark on this year-long journey with enthusiasm, patience, and an open mind. With the right resources and dedication, you'll be amazed at how much you can accomplish as a pianist within a year. So, seize the opportunity, find a piano teacher who resonates with you, and start your musical adventure today.
Addressing Flaws in Traditional (Private) Piano Lessons: The Music Studio's Innovative Approach
When it comes to piano lessons, traditional private sessions have long been the standard choice. However, it is important to acknowledge the flaws inherent in this approach as music education continues to evolve. In this blog, we will explore the limitations faced by students in traditional private piano lessons. Additionally, we will introduce an innovative solution provided by The Music Studio in Stafford: their semi-private small group lessons. These sessions effectively address the shortcomings of traditional lessons while offering numerous benefits to piano students throughout the Stafford area.
Flaw 1: Insufficient Lesson Duration:
Traditional 30-minute lessons often fall short in covering the necessary aspects of effective music learning. Within such a limited time frame, students are expected to perfect assigned songs, complete exercises flawlessly, work on sight-reading, theory workbooks, and memorize recital pieces. However, in reality, students may struggle with incorrect practice, encounter challenges, or fail to adequately prepare. This leads to spending precious lesson time rectifying mistakes and repeating previous material.
Flaw 2: Excessive Focus on One-on-One Interaction:
While individual attention in private lessons may seem beneficial, it can hinder students' independence. With constant access to their teacher, students may rely on immediate answers instead of attempting to figure things out on their own. Likewise, teachers may inadvertently provide quick solutions without giving students the chance to develop problem-solving skills and personal connections with the music.
Flaw 3: Lesson Performance Anxiety:
Traditional private lessons often generate pressure and nerves for students. The constant presence of the teacher during the lesson, scrutinizing every move and highlighting mistakes, can create a stressful and pressured environment. This anxiety inhibits students' ability to absorb new information and establish a deeper understanding of the music they are learning.
Flaw 4: Lack of Supervised Practice:
Outside of lessons, students are left to practice on their own, with little to no supervision from their teachers. Even dedicated students may inadvertently develop mistakes or poor habits that must be corrected during subsequent lessons. Additionally, students may struggle with understanding the appropriate amount of practice time required, resulting in superficial playing rather than focused mastery.
Flaw 5: Neglecting Sight-Reading and Performing:
The limited time available in traditional one-on-one lessons often neglects important aspects such as sight-reading and performance skills. Without sufficient practice in sight-reading, students' abilities in this area remain underdeveloped. Furthermore, the lack of opportunities to perform in front of others inhibits students' growth in showcasing their skills and developing comfort in public settings.
Solution: The Music Studio's Semi-Private Small Group Lessons:
The Music Studio recognizes and addresses these flaws through their innovative semi-private small group lessons. By creating a supportive and collaborative environment, these sessions allow students to interact with peers who share their passion for music. Regular performance opportunities build confidence, while supervised practice ensures that mistakes are corrected promptly. Furthermore, a well-structured lesson design promotes independence, mastery of foundational skills, and the integration of sight-reading and performance practice.
Though 30-minute one-to-one piano lessons have long been considered the gold standard of music instruction, these traditional style lessons have significant limitations that hinder students' progress, confidence, and overall musical experience.
The Music Studio's semi-private small group lessons offer a refreshing and effective alternative. By addressing the flaws within traditional lessons and providing a comprehensive learning environment, students in Stafford can benefit from enhanced collaboration, confidence-building performance opportunities, personalized instruction, and focused practice. We assure parents that our students receive just as much personalized attention and support from their teacher during each small group lesson as they would during an exclusively private session.
We hope you'll choose The Music Studio for an enriching and fulfilling piano learning journey that nurtures growth, creativity, and a lifelong love for music! We welcome the opportunity to show you our program by providing a Complimentary Tryout Lesson!
Piano Lessons in Stafford: Embracing the Benefits of Small Group Semi-Private Style Piano Instruction
At The Music Studio, we pride ourselves on our honest and transparent approach to piano education. We firmly believe that our small group semi-private style piano lessons offer the most effective and enjoyable path to mastering the piano. Yes, we are talking about "small group" and "best" in the same sentence. With more than 25 years of experience teaching traditional 30-minute private lessons, we have witnessed firsthand the advantages of our unique teaching approach. Our program has proven to be highly effective, enabling our students to progress through their lesson books at twice the rate of traditional private lessons. In this blog post, we will delve into the numerous benefits of our program and explain why we firmly believe that our small group semi-private style piano lessons are the ideal choice for aspiring pianists in Stafford.
The Advantages of Small Group Semi-Private Style Piano Instruction
At The Music Studio, our 60-minute weekly lessons have been meticulously designed to cultivate independent learning and foster strong sight-reading skills. We strive to strike the perfect balance between challenge, enjoyment, and engagement. Let us explore some of the key advantages of our small group semi-private style piano lessons:
With a maximum of four students per class, our piano lessons ensure that each student receives personalized attention from their dedicated piano teacher. This enables our instructors to identify the individual strengths and weaknesses of each student, tailoring their instruction to address specific needs and foster growth.
Cultivating Strong Sight-Reading Skills:
We recognize the paramount importance of developing proficient sight-reading abilities for any aspiring pianist. Our 60-minute weekly lessons provide ample time for dedicated sight-reading practice. Through our program, students engage in enjoyable and interactive activities that facilitate the development of these vital skills.
Fostering Independent Learning:
Our curriculum is carefully crafted to promote independent learning. We believe in empowering our students to practice and learn on their own, encouraging self-reliance and nurturing a lifelong love for the piano. Our small group semi-private style lessons strike the perfect balance between teacher guidance and independent exploration.
As previously mentioned, our students progress through their lesson books at double the rate of those following traditional 30-minute private lessons. This accelerated progression is a direct result of our challenging and engaging program, combined with the personalized attention and instruction provided by our dedicated teachers. Students are encouraged to learn at their own pace, ensuring steady growth and continual improvement.
Emphasis on Musical Mastery:
At The Music Studio, our ultimate goal is to empower our students to surpass their teachers and become exceptional musicians in their own right. We believe that traditional private lessons, which often foster a dependency on the teacher, can hinder musical growth. Our program is designed to instill a deep passion for music and cultivate independent learners who are dedicated to mastering their craft.
In conclusion, if you are seeking high-quality piano instruction that nurtures independent learning, cultivates strong sight-reading skills, and facilitates accelerated progression, The Music Studio's small group semi-private style piano lessons are the perfect fit. Our 60-minute weekly lessons offer ample time for targeted instruction and independent practice. Through our personalized approach, each student receives the attention and guidance required to succeed. So why wait? Sign up for piano lessons at The Music Studio today and elevate your piano playing to new heights!
For aspiring pianists in Stafford, The Music Studio stands as a beacon of excellence, offering exceptional piano lessons that blend the advantages of small group semi-private style instruction with a dedication to fostering independent learning and musical mastery. Our program has been fine-tuned over decades of experience, resulting in a comprehensive and effective curriculum that guarantees accelerated progression for our students.
Musical Gifts & How to Teach Them
I was recently inspired to write about this topic from a parent whose child is extremely gifted in music composition and chord recognition...even before they started learning how to play the piano. This kind of knowledge of music is something I never understood. At least, I didn’t just know how to play chords or understand how music worked. I only knew what was taught to me. It wasn’t until much later, during college, that I truly understood the music I was playing. Now that I’m a teacher, I understand more and more every day that these skills come to everyone at a different time.
Now for me, taking lessons was easy. Simple really. You put a song in front of you, you decode each note, and voila! Sight-Reading is definitely my forte, and I love a challenge. I was never much on creating music, I just enjoyed challenging myself to perfect the next piece and make it absolutely beautiful.
Sight-Reading is my gift, but I’ve had students gifted with perfect pitch and their knowledge of how music works. It’s incredible what these kids can do! What amazes me is that they almost never go hand in hand. The sight readers like myself, have to be taught how to make chords and how to compose music. Those with perfect pitch have to be taught how to read music and how music works. Those who understand how music is formed, have to be taught how to read music. And we all struggle with what needs to be taught because it’s human nature to use the gifts that come natural to us.
We all know what it’s like to struggle. It can be hard to persevere and continue on. It can be hard to love what you’re doing. You might want to quit, and before you know it you miss out on how much your gift has to offer. So how do we foster the students who enjoy making their own music without skipping all of the fine details that will perfect these traits?
The key is to understand that everyone is different. Everyone is going to love and dislike different things. Whether you understand it or not, as a teacher that is not for you to decide. Instead you have to use and adapt to each student's strength to develop the parts of their education that may be lacking. What I've noticed is when you fight students on what they love, they tend to rebel. But isn't that something we all do?
So, my advice to working with students that don't share the same ideology as you is to take it head on. Don't assume anything, empathize and do your best to understand their way of thinking or why they might be avoiding certain tasks or assignments. Ask questions and experiment with different tasks. It's okay if you struggle understanding a student, or if you don't exactly know where to begin. The point is to try. If you have a student who loves to compose, ask them to play something they made up. Ask them if they would like to record it, play it for recital, or write it down. If you have a student who likes to use chords, see if they would like to add chords to their current lesson book songs or write their own songs using chords. If they like to sight read, pull out a software or app such as Staff Wars, Music Ace, or Home Concert. There are tools out there for every type of learner, you just have to jump out of your comfort zone a little to help your little ones utilize the talents they love! The most important thing I ask you take away from this blog is to not neglect what students must know in order to further their education. In other words, don't neglect parts of a subject because a student doesn't seem to be understanding the material. More on specific books, assignments, games, and exercises later (:
Confidence in Education
A common misconception I've noticed while teaching these last few years revolves around confidence. Confidence is a key factor when learning how to play an instrument and, depending on the student, if taught incorrectly could hinder their progress. This is partly why we center our lessons around independent learning.
We've found that some teachers and parents like to give their child or student the answers while helping learn a new song. Although giving answers can sometimes be unavoidable, it is crucial that you don't do this too often. When students are give the chance to explore and ask questions to help them further their knowledge or come to conclusions on their own, they gain the confidence because THEY did the work. The students who are consistently given the answers while practicing at home or during lessons, are the students that struggle with starting a new piece or after playing each note, ask if it's correct.
We know it's hard to see our children struggle, but it's important to remember that with struggle comes perseverance and triumph. In other words, struggle doesn't always have a bad outcome if you approach it in the right way. When a student may not know the answer, you must guide them towards the answer rather than giving it to them right away.
Learning an instrument is more than performing and knowing how to play a song or two. It's about all the little things in between--reading your notes correctly, dynamics, rhythm, articulation, etc..
Keeping a Routine
This post goes out to my fellow teachers who run a small private Music Studio. If it's one thing I've learned since teaching, people love routine and organization. If you are constantly changing your schedule or cancelling and rescheduling lessons, you may find yourself struggling to keep students. Keep in mind that your parents & students already have a hectic schedule juggling jobs, school, family, a home, and after school activities. They crave a routine and when you provide that sense of organization, you build on so much more--making your business more dependable.
Same thing goes for your classroom. When you stay organized and your students know/understand the routine, your classes will run efficiently. I found these amazing dry erase sleeves at Walmart and they have transformed the way my classrooms run! I've found that kids LOVE to check off once they have completed a task. I've also noticed that when students set their own goals, they are more willing to put in the effort to achieve them (:
Keeping Your Child Busy
I'm going into this blog with an open mind as I do not have any children of my own...this is just a thought I had based off of personal experiences. We have many parents and students who come to us and say something along the lines of: we need to take a break, it's just too much right now. We completely understand how hard it is to maintain a routine when you have a lot going on. Especially with school and other extra curricular activities.
When I'm approached with statements such as this one, I have so many questions. And the questions arise in my brain because I know what it's like to stay busy every single day. Growing up, Monday-Friday my schedule looked a little like this: Wake-up 5 am, 5:30 am swim practice, 7 am breakfast (in the car), 7:30 am go to school, 2:50 pm leave school, 3:30 pm ANOTHER swim practice, 6 pm go home eat dinner, 7 pm homework & practice piano/violin/viola, 10 PM sleep and then wake up the next day at 5 am to do it all over again.
Now, I know everyone is different and we all can't handle the same schedules but the direction I think I'm going in is that it was the best thing my parents did for me. Now that I'm an adult, maintaining that busy routine and working my butt off really paid off for what the real world has shown me so far. It wasn't easy, but I'm so glad I stayed active. It taught me how to manage time, how to get things done, how to focus. Not only that, school was stressful...I loved it, don't get me wrong, but I would much rather have swum and played instruments all day long -- swimming and music didn't stress me out. If anything, they were outlets to relieve stress. I know I'm a bit biased. I do run a Music Business and I would love to have all the students in the world. BUT, don't strip away extra curricular activities when stress seems to rule your world. They actually might be helping you out more than you know (:
Summer Lessons Get Results!
We know a lot of families postpone joining a music program during the summer. There are vacations to work around, swim team, and let's face it....school's out and we're all looking forward to that break. Plus, music lessons are hard work, right? And, who wants to have to nag their kids to practice all summer? Surely, that kind of commitment and discipline can wait until school starts. Summer is for....wait for it...PLAYING! Hmmmmm?
The best reason for music in the summer is...music is PLAY! That's right -- it's "playing". At The Music Studio, the required practice takes place during the lesson. What we want students to do at home is play, create, explore, and have fun! Gone are the days of having to beg your child to practice. Instead, ask them to give you a performance at home (kids love to show Mom and Dad what they can do!).
And, playing gets results. Here's some proof of what happens when kids have time to simply enjoy and have fun with their music. This is our student, Emma...she plays for fun and relaxation (but you'd never know it!). No one has to remind her to practice...but lots of people ask her to play:
What most people don't know (this is 35 years of business and teaching experience talking here) is that Summer is actually the absolute best and most strategic time for music!
Looking to the Past
Could a forgotten, centuries-old "one-room schoolhouse" teaching method hold the key to unlocking natural musical ability?
When it comes to music teaching, we wish we could turn back time! Could a forgotten, centuries-old "one-room schoolhouse" teaching model hold the key to unlocking natural musical ability? Let's take a look at what happens (and doesn't happen) during today's modern private lessons.
Nothing against our childhood music lessons (I dearly loved my piano teacher, and modeled my first 20 years of music teaching after her). But, after decades of teaching the usual 30-minute weekly lessons, we've made a discovery: the private lesson is BACKWARD!
If you've ever experienced private lessons, they were most likely 30 minutes once a week (mine were, too). Between lessons, on your own, is when you were expected to make the real progress - to remember what was taught/fixed during the lesson, make improvements, memorize stuff, drill on exercises and scales. Then, at the next lesson, the pressure was on to present all that...perfectly...then grab the next assignments. Your teacher sat next to you, ever at the ready to correct mistakes (sometimes before you even made them!). There's a problem with these "traditional" private lessons, and it puts music learners at a huge disadvantage, without even realizing it. Let's examine some serious and obvious flaws with that model...and how to fix them!
Flaws with the traditional private 30-minute weekly lesson:
LESSONS ARE TOO SHORT
Thirty minutes is simply not enough time to cover everything necessary to make fast musical progress, or to allow students to make a true physical connection to music (at any age!). It might be, if perhaps a student consistently showed up to each lesson ready to play the assigned songs at tempo perfectly, completed all exercises flawlessly, took initiative to work on sight reading new songs during the week, correctly completed pages in their theory workbook, memorized the upcoming recital song. More likely, the student practiced something incorrectly that will then need to be fixed (there goes the rest of the lesson time), ran into struggles and didn't practice everything, forgot about the sight reading, left the theory workbook at home, or didn't practice at all (the lesson is then spent repeating everything from the previous lesson).
You remember your childhood lessons, right?...and feeling like you were on the hot seat, breathing a sigh of relief when it was over. There's a bit of pressure on students during a 30-minute private lesson, with the teacher right beside the whole time, watching your every move and at-the-ready to provide corrections. What the student practiced (or didn't) during the previous week is about to be closely examined and critiqued for mistakes. Personally, I recall being so nervous during my childhood piano lessons that most of what my teacher said was white noise. Nerves during a lesson can severely inhibit students from truly absorbing new information and making a deeper connection and understanding of their music.
Unfortunately, unless you happen to be the child of a piano teacher, all practice during the week (if there is any) goes unsupervised and unchecked by the teacher. Even the most dedicated practicers work in mistakes and poor habits that need to be "un-practiced" at the next lesson. Another common occurrence is that students may not realize how much time should be spent practicing, and will simply skim through playing their songs rather than mastering them.
LACK OF MASTERY
In traditional 30-minute lessons, the bulk of the lesson time is spent either fixing mistakes or introducing new concepts and music. There is little remaining time for the student to play repeatedly and to truly absorb something new. Repetition and mastery of songs is expected to be done during home practice, and the student is left to decide where that barre is.
LITTLE OR NO SIGHT READING
With little or no time during a lesson to practice sight reading (sight reading is the skill of being able to play through a new piece of music almost perfectly without having practiced it beforehand), this skill is often neglected and very underdeveloped in most students. As sight reading becomes more challenging, it's not likely students will put it in their Top Five list of things to work on during the week.
LITTLE OR NO PERFORMING
We're not talking about actual formal "performances" here, like recitals or competitions. We mean there is little or no playing in front of people (friends, family, other students). Students might eventually get used to playing comfortably in front of their teacher, but any other playing/practicing is probably done in solitude. Performing and learning to be comfortable playing for others is a skill rarely practiced (no wonder recitals can be such nerve inducing events).
POTENTIAL FOR A WEAK FOUNDATION
When you're building something -- a house, a bridge, anything -- where do you start? How do you build it so it stays in place, doesn't shift or fall so that you can finish the project without endlessly starting over? By putting down a solid FOUNDATION. Without it, music lessons are like constructing a building on quicksand...and a waste of your time. You will still learn some skills along the way, but you're in danger of the slightest "earthquake" setting you back, making you feel like you're not getting any better, or that you can't be as good as the "talented" students. If the weekly lesson format and length simply don't allow time for a student to comfortably absorb basic skills and concepts, it's likely those skills will never become "natural".
So, what's the solution?...and the secret to amazing progress, and becoming a great musician? How do we build a solid foundation?
The solution (and the secret to getting really, really good) is in a lesson design and restructure that addresses the issues of lesson length, nerves, unsupervised practice, lack of mastery, under-developed sight reading skills, under-developed performance skills and anxiety, independence....that allows students to subconsciously and innately absorb music, and master those foundation skills - DURING THE LESSON! At The Music Studio, we've essentially taken a cue from the one-room schoolhouses of days past, and created a lesson structure where students learn and work within the same classroom (quietly, of course, with headphones), practice independently and confidently at their perfect pace, and on their own personalized lesson plan. Furthermore, we want PARENTS to feel that sense of "Lesson Success". We want to make sure students have conquered any musical and technical issues during their lesson so playing at home is actually FUN -- never a chore, and never a battle. And, that they feel confident showing off - performing - what they can play.
How do we know this works?
What we notice the most with our lesson program is that students move easily and quickly through their lesson books -- twice as fast as they would with traditional private lessons (we have the book orders to prove it). Student outlook has changed, as well. They look forward to their lessons (parents tell us), and are confident warming up on their own when they arrive. In private lesson days, if we had said to our students they should learn their next song within an hour, they would have looked at us with despair. Now, they come to lessons knowing they'll master many new songs (with time left over to review old ones) before they leave.
We hope you'll check out more of our articles here....and be sure to visit the rest of our website!
Practice & Grit: What It Takes
This Newsletter just had to be long! I've had the realization that absolutely everyone at our studio has the WOW factor.
One Tuesday night, every student that had a lesson from 7:30-8:30 PM had a conflict. Honestly, I think there was some sort off telepathic conversation taking place because...WHAT A DAY! You know those days where every possible thing had gone wrong? Or you think to yourself, wow I really didn't do my best today. In our case, it was teach our best. Anyway, during that hour lesson where no one showed, our little teacher meeting started as a vent session but soon enough, the positives started pouring out. We realized that although we had a bad day, when we started looking at the big picture, everything else seemed perfect. And I mean that literally. Bad days tend to consume us, everyone in fact. It is true when they say you are more likely to talk of a bad experience than a good one because it's something you need to talk about to make yourself feel better. The only difference with this, is that once we started listing the ways we were going to adapt or fix what we thought needed fixing, we realized how small the problem was.
I know we thank all of you in almost every newsletter--our teachers, students, parents--but sometimes I don't think we say it enough. After this one conversation we realized how far this studio, as a whole, has come. And this is including ALL of the obstacles we have had to face during a time where we just don't know what's going to happen from one day to the next. It's a scary time. And some how through all of it we have had SO MANY accomplishments and we want you to hear about them. Bare with me as it might take me a while to get to those WOW factors we have seen throughout the year but IT IS WORTH IT THOUGH. I promise.
So taking it back to our February Newsletter, I wrote a blog in reference to quitting because of a bad day. The advice given was simply when you have a bad day, don't quit. Finish what you start, move forward, sleep on it, and if you don't feel differently in the morning it can be discussed further. I received a lot of feedback from this post and I'm not going to lie, it felt amazing to know that you all are reading what I have to write about. One email, in particular, provided an article and Ted Talk that really connect with the article I had written (I'll reference the links below). These references are of Angela Duckworth, a psychologist from University of Pennsylvania, including her experience with piano and what it takes to be good at what you do. She speaks of practice, developing grit, and the incredible impact of sticking with an activity can have on your life. (cont. pg 4)
So, in regard to grit and practice efforts, it is mentioned that in order to truly love what you are doing, you have to put in the effort first. Take Michael Phelps for instance. He didn't make it to the Olympics and become the most decorated athlete in history swimming one lap and simply leaving the pool. No, he instead did more than swim a lap. He did more than swim 100 laps. He dug deep into the psychology, the technique, anything he needed to dive into (haha get it) to become what he is known for today. Granted, we all don't have the genetic gene pool to be a Michael Phelps, however, that is besides the point. There are plenty of other swimmers out there that were told wouldn't make it, and did. This is just one example! What I mean to say is that not everyone understands what it takes to become a great musician. And I'm not even talking about the best of the best, I'm simply talking about succeeding and becoming proficient. What Michael Phelps did, what many other athletes, musicians, those who succeed at what they do, is practice. Really think about it, are you really going to love what you're doing if you do it for 5 minutes a day? Are you really going to love it if you don't put forth effort? When you put forth effort and enjoy the outcome that hard work as given you, you become proud of yourself, giving you the satisfaction and self love that you need in order to enjoy what you are doing. In other words, the outcome doesn't pay off when you aren't truly digging deeper into what you are working on or perfecting.
What exactly does it mean to put in effort? Back to my Michael Phelps example, I had stated he did more than swim laps in the pool. He dug into the physical and mental psychology of the sport. He looked and studied at every inch of his race, stroke, technique, and probably more. Much more than that, he pushed passed the physical and mental pain that sometimes tells us we just can't do it anymore. He pushed these limits EVERY. DAY. As I said, this example is a little bit of a stretch. But when you think about it, you can't just simply play piano every day to be good at it. What we do during lessons, is we provide the support and the opportunity to practice and I mean, REALLY practice.....including your knowledge of music theory, vocabulary definitions, reading your notes, reviewing older pieces and more. The practice techniques learned during lessons are then transferred to at home practice.
Don't worry everyone, we have finally come full circle from where I started this blog. Thanks for hanging in! What comes out of this teaching method (Advanced Program) we started a year ago, is a love for music not solely because our students loved it to begin with but because they are putting in the effort, they are learning, progressing, and advancing faster than we have ever seen from such a large population of students. And the best part is they enjoy it AND appreciate the outcome that they are truly good and gifted at what they do.
To summarize, this year has been nothing we ever imagined in our lifetime, but our students are really helping our Studio shine. For the first time in The Music Studio's history, we need Level 4 and beyond music books fully stocked. Before switching to this Advanced format, we specifically needed and abundance of Primer and Level 1 books. They say it takes the average student 6 months to finish a lesson book, our average is 4 months (that's 12-16 lessons)! I see students playing pieces I would have never dreamed of performing at their age. And the best part? The discipline, motivation, independence, and team building skills they are developing are an endless supply of growth needed to benefit them in the future, in everything they do in life.
Your teachers here at The Music Studio want to share their insight on our Music Lessons and provide the tips and tricks needed for a successful music education!
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