The biggest reason is not only to make sure your students are where they need to be, but to check yourself as the teacher. I realized, even after our very first Musical Ladder Test, that I teach every student differently. At first thought, I panicked. I was like on my gosh, I'm not teaching every student the same or equally. But when I really thought about it, I realized that every student is, in fact, different and respond to teaching in many different ways. With this one test, I was able to check my myself and think about my methods of teaching to help change and improve how I teach!
My second reason is that not all testing has to scream anxiety. The goal is to remember that you aren't testing for perfection, you're testing for what is known and what may need to be reviewed. In my case, I found that there was a lot I wasn't reviewing with my students on a day to day basis, and that's okay; it will only make our lessons hereon out more beneficial!
Lastly, testing helps you and your students move forward. Maybe our student missed a lot of the questions, maybe they got every single one correct. Either way, testing provides a basis for where your student is and what they should know to help further their knowledge of music. For example, your student could be in Lesson Book: Level 3, but maybe they didn't understand the content as well as you had thought. It let's you know that they may need to review Leeson Book: Level 2. All in all, knowing your students are and understanding what they know and having knowledge of where your students are on the music education spectrum is a major key for student success!
Photo by Jacqueline Waters Photography
Our owner, Susan Flinn, started her own business teaching piano from inside her home in 1989. How she maintained a household, worked, and took care of me and my sister while my dad was at work, I have no idea. Well, I do have some idea as I do remember the many students who came in and out of the house every day and the many recitals we helped with and participated in!
It wasn't until 2005 that my mother, Susan, expanded her business to what we now know as, "The Music Studio". Pretty soon, The Music Studio was offering Piano, Strings, Voice, Band, and other instruments. We moved many times, from 2 places on Garrisonville Road and then finally settled on our current location on Bells Hill Road.
Now, here is where I, the daughter, come in! For those of you who don't know, teaching music lessons was, what I thought, the last thing I wanted to do when I grew up. Of course, music was always a passion of mine, but teaching/helping run a small business had never crossed my mind. I even went in my first year of college to earn a degree in Music Therapy!
Long story short, my sophomore year of college, I decided teaching was definitely for me; however I changed my major to Elementary Education. Once I graduated and was in need of a summer job before continuing in the Public School system, I started teaching with who I am fortunately able to call my mother! AKA one of the most influential people in my life. Don't worry, Dad, you're in there to (;
That summer, I found my true calling and decided teaching music was something I could not pass up and I am forever grateful for this opportunity!
Because of my mother's passion and an amazing staff, we now have the highest number of students we have ever seen---and counting! We have expanded our business not only by number but by number of teachers, student progress/advancement, AND teaching possibilities. This is just the beginning of our new business plan and we cannot wait for the small victories to come!
So...thank you, Mom, for making a business like this possible. For giving music teachers a chance to dream AND make a living. AND for enhancing the lives of children EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.
Hoping our minds will continue to move forward and make the business even more than we had ever dreamed...TOGETHER...with all of the amazing teachers, students, parents, family, and friends who make this all possible! <3
Can you find Ms. Susan, Ms. Pam, and Ms. Mary in these photos?
As we move into week #4 of Virtual School, the excitement of being "at school" has started to take a hit! Now, we know virtual schooling works for some BUT it is not for everyone. The question on everyone's mind, how can I make school and learning more engaging and fun for my child, while implementing the same structure they would receive with in person instruction?
One important aspect of virtual learning to remember is INDEPENDENCE. I cannot stress enough the importance of stepping back (at times) and allowing your child to discover/learn on their own. Every child learns at their own pace, and it's at a different pace with every subject. Just remember, no matter what pace they learn at, it's okay and they need time for their brain to adjust to new things! If you don't allow their brain to analyze and ask questions, they may end up struggling more in the long run and become dependent on their teacher/parent/classmates. Allowing your student to discover and learn independently is called Inquiry-Based Instruction.
This type of instruction is what we try to implement in our music lessons! Through studies and years of teaching, We have found that students who are given many opportunities to learn at their own pace and independently (there's that word again), advance at a much faster rate.
The objective is to provide resources and GUIDE students to find the answer/come to their own conclusion without giving them the answer. Often, students will end up asking even more questions about what they are learning, furthering their understanding of the material given.
Providing your student/child with a variety of resources is a key factor for inquiry-based instruction/independent learning. It provides a basis for conducting their own research and forming their own thoughts and questions.
****TIP: When storing and organizing extra books, worksheets, workbooks, flashcards etc. Make sure these items are stored at or below eye level. Things that are stored above eye level will be hard for children to find.
***Positivity During a Crazy Time
As 2020 slowly comes to an end, I can't help but see the rise of negativity--in students, teachers, and parents. We feel as if we have no control whatsoever in any aspect of our lives and the new year can't come soon enough!
Although, times are crazy, focus on the positives! Children are extremely observant and see/hear things we may not think they see/hear. When working with your student, positive reinforcement and confidence boosting feedback mean the world to them! So lend a hand and no matter what mistakes are made, begin by addressing what they did a great job on--how they have an amazing sense of rhythm OR I love how expressive you sounded in this section! When it comes down to it, our students need to be praised for their accomplishments--big or small!***
So we touched base on stepping back (just a little), and allowing our students/child think on their own. I mean what parent doesn't want to raise independent thinking children?! If we go even more in depth with this subject you may ask yourself, "how much is too much?"
What if your student is just not getting it? What if they're getting frustrated? There is a happy medium in which a student should be independently working and when they should be helped. Our suggestion, work through the problem with them, have them imitate the process and then review the material prior to what they are now working on. Odds are, something was missed or their little brains may not have fully understood the previous material learned. With review, you may find what was missing or even figure out why your student/child wasn't comprehending the new subject matter. They may have more questions they just weren't ready to ask, they may have misunderstood something you had said, or maybe they just needed to spend a little more time on the old stuff!
When it comes down to it, just remember you are doing the best you can for your student/child! There is no one correct way. Your support, love, and care are the most important factors in the year 2020. You CAN do this and the year 2021 is upon us!
Today's Blog Post is a short one, but it is sweet and true.
I came across this picture today while scrolling through Pinterest and it made me think of how much influence parents have on their kids <3
If you have ever gone back and forth about joining your child in taking music lessons, it is something we highly recommend!
In a separate post, I talked about tips on how to help your child practice at home. One of the tips was to simply be there, whether you play a musical instrument or not at all. And that is 1100% true; kids tend to practice more when they have someone to share it with!
Since converting to our Advanced Program (group lessons), we have many students and their parents who take lessons; some together, some separate. Each gain a broad understanding of what and how to practice that supports the advancement of learning at home and progress, along with developing a relationship formed around music that is priceless!
The adjustment to this new quarantine lifestyle has had it's ups and downs. It has definitely thrown us teachers a curve ball but we are forever grateful for it!
Why? Because we have seen SO man of our students come out of their shell, musically, like we've never seen before. Students are practicing now more than ever, it has opened our business to more possibilities
and teaching opportunities around the US, and it has given us insight into the environment in which our students practice. This may seem small but it actually helps us better understand practice habits and routines so that we can adjust our teaching methods as we need per student.
With that said, here are some positive benefits of online music instruction:
#1: The cancellation of sports and after school activities have significantly increased practice and progress for several students.
#2: Students have had to figure out many more things in the music on their own, independently--a great life skill!
#3: Online communication will be a standard way to communication for everyone in the years to come.
#4: Parents are thrilled to have an activity that can occupy their children that maintains stability of healthy life during this difficult time.
#5: Music Education at school might be limited or different these days. Online music instruction allows students to achieve a solid music education.
#6: Stopping lessons until in-person lessons can resume will hinder progress!
These are just some of the many reasons why continuing with online lessons can benefit your child (:
Some of you may be wondering, "Where have I seen this piano before?"
You guessed it! It is our very own Joanna Gaines' family piano! If you love her as much as I do, you probably adore this piano and are already consumed with Pinterest boards on "DIY How to Paint and Decorate Your Piano." Trust me, I've been doing it all throughout quarantine! Although you may see a pretty piano perfectly decorated, I see a piano with perfect lighting, a lot of space, and, knowing Joanna, there is definitely some sort of storage/organization.
Anyway, the point of this post is how to create a safe and effective learning environment in the comfort of your own home. Here are four solid tips!
#1: SPACE. Having room to stretch, move around, and having room to explore the piano is essential to independent learning! It gives students the room to grow, ask questions, and take a break when they need it.
#2: LIGHT. I cannot express enough how the quality of light in a room can effect practice! A dark room can make you feel tired, especially when staring at sheet music. If the room you practice in is warm in lighting, put an extra lamp in there to brighten it up a bit!
#3: STORAGE & ORGANIZATION. A place to store your books and other musical belongings (sheet music, other books, worksheets, work books, etc.) helps with easy access, keeping your child/student on task, and gives them options on what to practice--the more the merrier! So if you are one to search your entire house for a lost piano book, this one's for you! Although, you must make sure everything has a designated place to be returned to (:
#4: RESOURCES. This is sort of an add on to Storage & Organization. It is helpful to have certain items at hand to help you succeed at learning an instrument. Such as a notebook, pencil/highlighter, book mark, flash cards, and a metronome!
So, if your piano room needs an update, I definitely recommend these 4 tips!
Once I did, I realized that I was putting a little too much on my plate. In other words, I was trying to squeeze in too many things that I wanted to do and I was exhausted after a few weeks of trying to keep up with it!
This way of thinking happens with younger children as well. The difference is they are just now learning the basics of how to form a solid, comfortable routine. They may have school, soccer practice, dance, karate, music lessons, and then to top it all off they want and NEED time to play and just be a kid! Because they can't wrap their brain around a set routine quite yet, you may see frustration and maybe, some tears. The good news is they have the helpful and loving parents to be there and help them through these times as best they can (:
The KEY FACTOR of each of these situations (whether you're an adult or child), is to remember they include the support from family, friends, teachers, anyone that may be of significant influence in their life.
If you have a child struggling to practice at home, keep reading for 5 helpful tips!
#1 TIME: This includes not only how much they are practicing a day, but how long they have been taking lessons. If your child has been taking lessons for two months, that's only 6-8 lessons. You may not see your child take initiative with practicing for as long as 6 months. This is partially because they are not 100% comfortable with their instrument and is still very new to them. In order to reach that comfortability, it is important to set a routine of practice every day for as little as 15 minutes or as long as 1 hour a day.
If they do this every day, you will begin to see progress! Keep in mind, that a little bit of parental guidance may be needed from time to time to ensure practice actually gets done. This leads us into TIP #2.
#2 Sit with your child while they practice even if it's for a small period of time! Having someone there while practicing can be fun and encouraging. This even works if you, as the parent, have never played an instrument before. It is very important in child development to show support and interest in every aspect of their lives!
#3 We suggest that each song should be played at least 3 times a day. But it is important to remember that they are not simply to be played from beginning to end 3 times each. Instead, circle the areas of the song they may be struggling with and practice what is circled before playing through the entire song again. You are more likely to continue struggling with a section if you continue to go back to the very beginning of a song each time you try and fix it.
#4 Don't be afraid to make it a challenge! Challenge them to memorize their song, to not look at their hands while they play, to play loud, soft, hands separate, hands together, anything that may help them play their songs more than once!
#5 Breaks! If your child is getting frustrated while practicing or nodding off, let them take what I like to call a 2 minute brain break. The important part is to ensure that they go back to practicing for a total of at least 15 minutes to maintain routine!
Stay tuned next week for a blog post on the types of brain breaks we recommend (:
Throughout the years, this has been one of the most frequently asked questions. At The Music Studio, we take pride in accepting students at the age of just 4 years old!
You may be wondering, "What is the success rate of a child who has just learned their alphabet and numbers 1-10?" The truth is that our rates are very high! It is true when they say children learn best from a young age. With music they aren't just learning how to play an instrument, they are developing their brain to be more efficient in critical thinking and hand-eye coordination. They learn self discipline, time management, routine, and other life skills that will improve what they do in and outside of their lessons.
All you must do is follow three simple steps!
#1 Create a positive environment for your child to practice in their own home.
#2 Develop a routine. Whether your child practices 10 minutes or as long as one hour a day, this is very important to follow!
#3 Keep a line of open communication with your child and their teacher(s). In other words, ask questions and keep the teacher updated on what practice is like at home.
So if you have been on the fence of enrolling your little one, don't be afraid to set up an appointment for a free trial lesson (link in bio) or a consultation/tour! (:
When we started this program, we knew the idea of independent and interactive learning would increase student knowledge of the music they were working on, but how to get there was a completely different question. With a few webinars, conferences, and a lot of team work we were able to convert 93% of our students into this "group" format and have seen these students excel like we never seen before!
So you ask the question, "Why Group Lessons?"
The best kind of learning comes from student-based teaching. In other words, when students are given the opportunity to work independently, it opens the door for them to expand on what they have already learned. Independent-based learning centers around the idea of critically challenging students to think "Outside the Bachs" (see what I did there?), forming their own questions and ideas for a better understanding.
With the right resources and the given chance to think critically, we find our students excelling at a faster rate and maintaining the focus to achieve their goals!
So if you're on the fence about signing your child up for group lessons, give it a shot! With our experience, you and your student will LOVE it! (:
M-F, Saturday & Sunday: by appointment only
Phone Hours: M-F 11am to 8pm