I Have to Tell You the Truth

by Jen Hickle

I have to tell you something.
Music lessons aren’t actually about music. No– music lessons are about so much more.

When you push through a hard spot and don’t give up, you’re learning perseverance and tenacity.
When you show up every week for mentoring from your teacher, you’re learning consistency, keeping your promises, and how to show up on time.
When you practice, you are developing discipline skills that will last you a lifetime.
When your knees are shaking and you climb the steps onto the stage and perform, even though you’re scared, you’re learning that you can do things scared. And succeed.
When you play music in front of a large audience, you’re learning how to get up in front of people and stay poised and confident.
When you totally mess up, you’re learning how to dust yourself off and try again.
When you master a song, you’re learning how to stick with something and conquer it!
When you drop your backpack every day and head to practice your music, you’re learning time management skills.
When you hear a song on the radio and you know how hard it is, you  have learned music appreciation.
When you go to a concert and admire the talent on stage, you have learned what it means to be a musician.

I have to  admit. It’s never been about music lessons at all. It’s about all the LIFE lessons that you are learning along the way.

Parents, thank you for giving your kids the GIFT of music and life lessons!

Why Study Music?

shutterstock_108119105Why Study Music?

Multi-instrumentalist and music educator, Seth Bowser, shares his thoughts about the value of studying music:

The study of music involves much more than just learning how to navigate your instrument- which finger goes where, how to position your wrist, etc. The student of music also learns new ways of expressing mathematical concepts (rhythm), how to be an effective communicator (phrasing), and different languages, among other things.

The study of rhythm primes your brain to think in sets and patterns and to break down complex information into smaller units. These are useful tools when it comes to general problem solving, but they are especially relevant in mathematics because of the fractions involved in counting and understanding rhythm.

As a music student progresses, they learn what it means to “shape a phrase”, which could be likened to delivering an organized, effective speech, balanced with emotion and well-reasoned thought. These are things that aren’t necessarily emphasized in today’s culture, and especially for younger students. Understanding the musical concept of shaping a phrase and consistently putting it into practice opens up a whole new world of effective communication.

Because the invention of the musical staff has Italian roots, the music student is exposed to a wide vocabulary of Italian words. Things like volume and tempo are indicated with Italian words like piano, forte, allegro, and lento.

But music, in and of itself, has its own vocabulary and syntax. We learn the symbols for quarter note and half note, and we learn to associate them with particular tones on our instrument, and this process is similar to learning our native tongue. When the music student knows how to read notes on the staff, they are effectively speaking another language.

From a purely physical standpoint, the music student gains much from developing and training fine motor skills- but did you know that by just practicing your instrument, you are exercising your brain, too? Your brain doesn’t give equal attention to all parts of the body. The vast majority of your brain’s focus is towards two main areas; the hands and the mouth. So, whether you play the piano, the cello, or the kazoo, you are using a large portion of your brain in your daily practice session.

These are just a few of the benefits of musical education. If you’d like to further develop your fine motor skills, or learn a new language, or become a better communicator, why not study music?

For information about music lessons at the Altadena Academy of Music, please call    (626) 296-0799 or use our email contact form.

Five Benefits of Performing at a Recital

Secondary Student Playing Violin

  1. Strengthen Your Practice Routine.  Preparing for a recital provides additional motivation that encourages students in their daily practicing.
  2. Build Confidence.   Even though performing in front of an audience can cause some butterflies in the stomach, the accomplishment of a recital performance (and the audience’s applause) builds confidence.
  3. Express Yourself.  Performing a song in a personal style or interpretation expresses to the audience how a performer feels about the music.
  4. Accept Mistakes.   No one is ever perfect in a live performance (even professional musicians make mistakes) and with each recital experience students learn that the overall performance is what matters and not a wrong note here and there.
  5. Earn Recognition.  Music students practice regularly every week.  Recitals are an opportunity for family and friends to recognize the hard work and effort that has been put in by the student.

For information about music lessons at the Altadena Academy of Music, please call    (626) 296-0799 or use our email contact form.

Five Tips for Making Practice Fun

metronome and notes

1. Play Practice Games.

It’s effective for young children to play a song or passage three times during a practice session.  To make this more fun, draw a picture with three different places and have your child place a small toy on the picture.  Each time a song is played well, your child can move the character to the next spot on the picture.

2. Revisit Old Favorites.

Revisiting songs that your child enjoyed and learned to play well builds confidence and makes practice fun.  These songs should remain a part of regular practice even after the teacher considers them finished and has moved on to new pieces

3. Have the Student become the Teacher.

Ask your child to teach you how to play a song.  Ask your child to show you the notes, how to play it, and give comments on how you sound.

4. Listen to Music.

You should consider every listening experience a part of music learning.  Going to a local concert or playing your or your child’s favorite album and talking about what parts you enjoy and why can help your child develop an appreciation for music.

5. Try a New Activity.

Teachers have lots of worksheets and other tools to help your child learn music.  In addition, we recommend getting a note speller book to practice notes and you can also find flashcards that will help learning music symbols.

For information about music lessons at the Altadena Academy of Music, please call    (626) 296-0799 or use our email contact form.

What makes learning music so rewarding?

Music - woman wearing headphones listening to musicHere are four reasons why learning a musical instrument can be so fulfilling.

  1. Listen to music in a new way.  Once you learn the fundamentals of music and how it works, you will have a different ear when listening to music of all genres.  You will understand songs on a heightened level.
  2. Play songs that you love.  It is enjoyable to hear yourself play a tune that you know well from the radio, a favorite album, or concert that you have attended.
  3. Make an impression. Music is an art form and how each individual plays and performs a piece of music is unique.  When you add your own interpretation to a song, it is satisfying to yourself and means something to your audience.
  4. Play with other musicians. Becoming proficient in an instrument provides you with the ability to easily play with other musicians.  Being part of a musical group is rewarding because of the fuller sound of many instruments playing together and the enjoyment gained from interaction with other musicians.

For information about music lessons at the Altadena Academy of Music, please call    (626) 296-0799 or use our email contact form.