Studio Sign

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Saturday, 27 August 2016

Let's Talk about Being Interested

Be interested.  If you, as a parent, are interested in what your child is learning, then your child will also be interested.  Your enthusiasm is crucial to their success. Why is this so very important?
It's important because, no matter what we might think, we have much greater influence over our child and their likes and dislikes than we realize.  If we display our dislike for brussel sprouts - we can be assured our child will as well.   They pick up our lack of enthusiasm over something much easier than our enthusiasm... so if you are not enthusiastic about piano lessons and listening to them practice - they are going to pick up on that right away.

I often get parents who expect that all the initiative for learning piano or any instrument should come solely from the child with no input from the parent.  It is entirely the teacher's responsibility to "inspire" - and a child who is inspired, they think,  will be interested in practicing - no matter their age. This is only partly true - parents can inspire too.  Learning an instrument is hard work, so  your inspiration is crucial

So - what to do.

Be Interested.  How?  If you know nothing about music, how do you do that?

Besides providing a good instrument and getting them to lessons every week, there are lots of ways to encourage your child in the learning process.

  Here is a list of practical things you can do - and you don't have to know a thing about music.

  1. Read their assignment book and know what has been assigned.
  2. Ask how the lesson went.
  3. Ask to hear each of the pieces assigned.
  4. Be nearby when practice is happening.
  5. Make positive comments such as:
    • Hmmm... I like that piece - can you play it again?
    • What is that one called?
    • That sounded good!  I think I recognize that one!
    • Oh! that is going to be a favourite of mine!
    • Can you play that again?  I love hearing you play!
    • You know I am so proud of how hard you are working - I know it's not always easy
    • I'm always listening you know....  :)
    • Wow - that is sounding better and better!
    • you play that really fast!  I wonder what it sounds like if you slow down a bit?
    • I'm sorry you feel discouraged... would it help if I just sat with you? 
    • Here, we can use these (raisins, chocolate chips, m&m's etc) to help you keep track of the repetitions..... 
    • You are doing so well!
    • I'm proud that you remembered to practice all on your own!
I'm sure if you involve yourself in a positive way in the practice time, your child will be much more willing to go practice.  Often kids are keen to please you - and if they see practicing is pleasing to you, you have just won most of the battle!

Monday, 22 August 2016

Let's talk about setting a regular time to practice

From my last post, I stated that one important thing a parent can do, is to set a regular time for practice.  Why is this so important, and why does it seem to be something every parent struggles with?

Teach your child to be responsible for being prepared for their next lesson. The very best thing you can do for a beginner student is to make sure they know that part of their responsibility in having the privilege of learning an instrument is to go into their next lesson, prepared for their teacher.  Instilling this idea of being prepared early on, will save a parent a ton of issues as the years progress.

The parent must set the routine. We set routines for our children all the time.  Get up at a certain time, dress, wash, eat, brush teeth and head off to school where there are more routines that are set in place to create an efficient environment for learning.  Then, catch the bus at a certain time to get home, and then, that is often when things begin to fall apart.  Perhaps Mom and Dad are not home and a babysitter is in charge.  Perhaps there are other activities to get to, homework to get done, supper, and a bath and bed in good time  - all to get up and do it over again the next day.  But routines, help us to get many things done in an efficient way.

Balancing other activities with piano is always an issue.  Piano is not a "once a week" activity.  It is an every day activity. It seems many families do not realize this.  But daily practice is a must when learning this particular skill.  A person can learn to swim by going once a week... a person can learn to play soccer by going once a week. But you cannot learn an instrument by just going to your lesson once a week.  It just will not happen.  That is why daily practice is important. And you cannot cram all the practice into one day, either - our brains just do not learn that way. Having that regular time, just makes it easier to "get it done".   Each family will have to find that sweet time when practice fits in their routine.  It might be early morning before school, or right before supper, or right after school, or right after supper....

So what is a practice goal?  Seven days a week?  Well, in an ideal world, that might be possible.  However, that doesn't usually work.  I ask my students to aim to practice 5 days out of 7.   One day is their lesson day, so they do not need to practice on that day.  One day should be a day of rest - that might be a day when there are other activities that take so much time that it is impossible to practice.  That leaves 5 other days, two of which might be the weekend - which hopefully allows more time for practice.

Every family has to find their own routine - but it must be a routine and not random "whenever"  - because then practice is left to the end of the day when the child is tired and really just wants to either chill out for a while, or head to bed. And of course, that is when the parent will find that the child balks.  First, the parent is tired and suddenly realizes - yikes! we forgot to practice AGAIN!  Sometimes, in our frustration, we end up inadvertently placing the blame on the child - "you didn't do your practice - go get it done now before bed!"  We set our kids up for failure when we do this, because we raise our expectations that they should have remembered themselves.  Well - reality is that they are kids.  They are not going to remember.  It is up to us.  They "might" remember better, if we have a routine - and they know and we know that at 4 pm, after a snack, they need to sit down and practice for 30 mins.

Be kind - make that time for your child to practice.  Schedule it into your day.  Help them by making sure it is a time that they are fed and somewhat rested.  Help them by not over-scheduling them with other activities.  And you will find that they will progress quite well, and there won't be so much fighting over whether it is time to practice or not.  And then both you and they, will be much happier campers!

Sunday, 21 August 2016

Tips to make Practice time more enjoyable

When learning an instrument - any instrument - probably the biggest reason that students quit, is that practice has become a battle ground.  The teacher expects it - the parent tries to "make" practice happen - and often, the student refuses.  How to make this less of a battle.

1.  Set a regular time for practice each day.  Establishing a routine is crucial to success.  Pick a time when the student is relatively rested and fed, and a parent can be around to ensure practice actually happens.

2.  Be interested.  If you, as a parent, are interested in what your child is learning, then your child will also be interested.  Your enthusiasm is crucial to success.  Read their assignment book.  Reveal your interest by listening and making positive comments on their playing.

3. Reward.  Some may disagree, but for certain ages, small rewards can make learning fun.  It can be as simple as a sticker chart to record practice - or more involved if you have the time and energy for that.

4. Keep communication lines open with the teacher.  Sharing difficulties with practice early on with the teacher can give an opportunity for the teacher to address this with the student and provide more individualized solutions.

In future posts, I will expand upon each of these suggestions with more concrete ideas and explanations as to why these three main points can make all the difference in how motivated and happy your child is, when learning their instrument.

Thursday, 4 August 2016

Signing up for lessons

It's that time of year again - to get signed up for lessons.  I will be taking names over the next few weeks, and making a schedule toward the end of August! Lessons will begin September 12th!  I am excited to get going!

New Program for 4 and 5 year olds:

If your child is 4 or 5 years old, and would like to give piano a try, but you are not sure if they are ready, I am offering group lessons for piano readiness.  See below for more information.

Piano Ready Class 

10 classes starting September 28 - November 30th
 Wednesdays at 5:15 pm
 45 min class for group of 3 - 5 students. (if only 2 students sign up, the class will be 30 mins)
Cost: $125
This class will focus on fine motor skills, rhythm, and introduction to the keyboard using games, and interactive materials.

Note: Students will be evaluated for readiness for private lessons throughout the "Piano Ready Class"  For those that are not quite ready there will be another session called "Piano Set"  and a third session called "Piano Go" that will build on the skills needed to pursue private lessons.

Private Lessons

Please give me a call to arrange private lessons.  My phone number is 613-347-3428  I prefer to discuss rates etc over the phone - they are quite competitive for the area and as well, we can also discuss my teaching philosophy to see if it is a good fit with your parenting style.  You may also contact me by email at although I will encourage you to call so we can discuss details.

Lessons are weekly with your spot held exclusively for you. Payment is by semester with the option for installment payments.  Semester payments allow me to use all of the lesson time for teaching rather than discussing payments so that your child gets their full lesson time. Lessons are discounted to allow for weather and illness and therefore makeup lessons are not guaranteed but will be allowed on a case by case basis.  No makeups are given for lessons missed with no notice, Family rates are available. Receipts are issued once per year.  Books are extra and cost between $30 - $50 per year per student.

Please call to arrange for your lesson time.   613-347-3428

Spaces for adults are very limited, but are very flexible allowing for "as you go" payment.  Please call for rates and policies for adult students.