No doubt you’ve heard of all the benefits and positive responses to music education, but where exactly should you start? What should you expect? For many parents, when they begin to enroll their children in music or piano lessons, they are at a loss of where to start and what to expect. This can be an extremely daunting experience because of course, as parents, you only want what is best for your child! So you may be wondering—what exactly should I be looking for in a quality music education?
1. Developing Curiosity
The first step for any beginner embarking on their musical journey should be curiosity. A good music teacher will help your child take their first steps by instilling in them a sense of wonder and curiosity for music making. Without a hunger for learning, it will be difficult to build the student’s fundamentals later down the road. With the current turn to technology for education, technology for music education is being advanced as well. Technology provides programs and new opportunities for students to explore compositional software, improvisation, and other types of musical training.
2. Safe Learning Environment
Before the fundamentals, however, you should make sure that your child’s teacher provides a safe learning environment for your child—both physically and emotionally. In these strange, pandemic-run times, it is important to ensure that the teacher is taking all the necessary precautions to keep both themselves and their students safe for in-person lessons (i.e. washing/sanitizing before and after lessons, wearing a mask, sitting 6 feet away, etc.). Aside from these physical safety precautions, a good music teacher creates a safe
environment for their student to explore and learn; the student should never fear making mistakes or fumbling over the wrong notes—this is natural and part of the process! Even when the progress seems to slow down or stall, the teacher will stay patient and encouraging; they will work together with the student and sometimes the parents to figure out a solution.
3. Open Communication
Both the parent and student should feel comfortable discussing challenges in practising or scheduling with the teacher. A good music teacher understands that work, school, and extracurriculars are difficult to juggle—that’s why they will help each student work out a practice routine and appropriate workload where they can be successful.
4. Encouragement of Exploration and Creativity
When the student begins learning the fundamentals of music (rhythm, pitches, dynamics, technique, etc.), they should be exposed to the versatile aspect of music. What does this mean? A good music education encourages exploration; the teacher is responsible for integrating the different elements of music making into their lessons. These elements include (but are certainly not limited to!) composition, theory, performance, and improvisation. By giving the student the opportunity to explore so many elements, the teacher not only gains a better understanding of each individual’s areas of strengths and weaknesses, but also illustrates a vivid picture of the larger world of music and its role throughout history and even today.
Introducing the student to ways to create their own music provides an even higher level of expression and communication for them. Their music education should always include opportunities for them to create their own music.
5. A Guide to Building Life Skills
Beyond all these tactile aspects of learning music, a good music educator also helps the student build life skills. Music education builds important life skills. A music teacher will teach their student to set goals (both big and small!), instill a strong sense of discipline and work ethic, help them develop strong communication skills, and teach them how to express creativity and emotions with confidence.
Ultimately, an ideal music education is more than just having a student learn how to count and read notes. An ideal music education, of course, creates a musician, but it also shapes the musician into a confident, intelligent, and driven individual. These life skills will be transferable to other aspects in the student’s life, such as school, sports, and other extracurriculars.
6. Enabling Student Achievement and Success
By having weekly lessons, the teacher will be able to assist the student by providing ongoing and consistent advice on how to learn and practice difficult material, techniques, and theory. The teacher will also help the student develop a practice schedule that will enable them to practice efficiently. The consistent assistance is essential and will enable the student to work towards and achieve their personal goals.
7. Music Accessibility
Music can seem daunting and complicated for the beginner student. That does not mean, however, that they’ll never be able to learn it! A good music teacher makes music accessible to each student, no matter what level they are at. The teacher will provide step by step instruction for each level the student reaches and increase the difficulty appropriately as the student achieves the skill they are learning.
The teacher helps open the door for the student to the world of music, leading them to watch and enjoy performances of many different eras and genres.
8. Customized Lesson Plans
Students come to our studio with a variety of levels and knowledge. As you would expect, no student is the same and thus, the teacher will teach and assist every student differently. Customized lesson plans are curated based on the teacher’s expectations as well as the student’s interests. Often times, many students want to learn to play popular selections or pop songs. The teachers from Upbeat are happy to incorporate these elements into the students’ lesson plans to ensure that students learn the pieces that they’ve always wanted to play.
9. Incorporation of Fundamental Music Theory
Music theory is an important aspect of every student’s music education. By teaching music theory, the teacher ensures that each student understands the concept of music as they learn their pieces. This enables the student to learn the language of music—meaning they will be able to learn and read music outside of piano lessons. Music theory provides the student a strong foundation for learning any other musical instrument or choral music.
Learning the fundamentals of music writing also provides an avenue for self-expression and creativity. A secure knowledge of these fundamentals will lead to an improvement in compositional and improvisational techniques.
10. Performance Opportunities
Performing is a skill that needs to be developed—just like public speaking. Remember being hit by a bad case of nerves the first time you ever had to give a public
presentation? However, as you give more presentations, you learn to recover from small mistakes and stumbles, how to give a smooth and informative speech, and how to captivate the audience. Performing on the piano is not so different from giving a presentation! At Upbeat, we encourage all of our students to participate in our annual Halloween, Christmas, and Year-end recitals, festivals, and competitions. Performance opportunities help the musician develop confidence and self-expression. We’ve even worked out how to provide these Recitals online during the pandemic.
“My boys and I have taken lessons from Melanie for many years. We have really enjoyed her program which is both comprehensive and fun! My sons are now at the grade 12/university level and are building on what they have learned from Melanie by exploring new areas of piano music. Thanks Melanie for instilling a love of music which they will have throughout their adult lives!” — a parent from Upbeat Piano Studio
Our purpose at Upbeat Piano Studio is to create musicians who are able to explore and create, learn independently, and enjoy a rich, fulfilling, and life-long musical experience. We believe that these 10 qualities are important in every music education and our teachers are certain to incorporate them for every developing musician we teach.