The peak age for the development of the brain is around three years. Students learn the language and sounds of music as naturally as they learned to speak.
Every student is encouraged to spend time with music for the length of their lesson, 5 days a week. Typically students do not practice the day of their lesson and they should be given their choice about what other day not to practice. We will teach students who regularly practice. Teachers will notify the parent if the student is not practicing and the student will have until the end of the current session to begin practicing. It is advantageous to the student and to the parent who is paying for the lessons, to have the student progress, learn a sense of accountability and to feel good about the progress being made.
A piano is primarily a percussion instrument. An electronic keyboard can be purchased for teaching the very young and fortunately can be purchased for under $150. As the child learns to understand the geography of the keyboard and develops a sense of musicianship and timing (in the second or third year), a digital piano with hammer action and pedals or an acoustic piano can be purchased. Your teacher can help you make this decision and direct you to appropriate suppliers. There are some very good rent-to-own programs available to qualified purchasers as well. Keyboards should have at least 60 full-sized keys.
You have the option of paying annually, quarterly or for Private lessons in monthly installments. (Monthly installments have the same time commitment as all other lessons; one quarter) If you pay quarterly, tuition is due approximately one month prior to each quarter.
Emphasis on technical work and notation during instrumental lessons inhibits the growth of a young student’s musicianship and creativity. In terms of brain usage, technical skills and note reading are based largely in the left hemisphere. Students who are taught this way never learn to listen properly to themselves and are unable to play with feeling. Once these students learn to rely on notation for their music, it becomes increasingly difficult to explore musical avenues that do not have a notational basis. (Evans, 1985, Priest, 1989.) Most teachers surveyed rated the following components as low priority: only 63% covered playing-by-ear; only 54% included improvisation; only 49% taught composition. (Odam, 1195, Gibbs, 1993, Thompson, 1984 and Jorgenson, 1986)
The dominance of notation in verbally oriented and teacher-led lessons leads to hours of fruitless practicing where the body is fully occupied but the brain is not engaged at all. Traditional tutor books encourage students to listen “a note at a time”; their physical movements and coordination are shaped for life by that kind of listening. Most traditional instrument lessons are teacher-centred rather than student-centred. Telling children to do their best to please their teacher causes nervousness and anxiety which leads to muscular and emotional tension. The focus on technique has also been shown to be responsible for unnecessary physical tension leading to injuries. Tension also results when children have no clear mental perception of the music in and of itself. (Chappell, 2001)
My child is not going to be a concert pianist so why is it necessary to learn theory and play scales?
Learning music is what’s important and not just memorizing a particular piece of music. When students understand how the music is structured and have developed a real understanding of the concepts, they will use this knowledge and apply these skills to the next piece of music they encounter. The purpose of practicing scales as finger exercises is to develop strength in the arms, the hands and the fingers. Also, pieces of music with scale passages become easier to learn.
Changing teachers is a natural part of every education. Almost all music students change teachers at some point. Each teacher brings different strengths and experiences to their students. Students learn more musically by being exposed to various styles and strengths. In our school, class teachers do not take their own students into private lessons due to scheduling restraints.
We encourage students to participate in performances but it is not required. Performing boosts every student’s musical skills. The preparation for the performance and the actual performance develop skills that complement the lesson and home study. Those students who wish not to perform are encouraged to attend the performances. Music is meant to be shared with others as a form of expression.
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