Tag Archives: learning to play music

The Importance of Keeping Up Your Music Lessons

The importance of keeping up your music lessons

Something worth doing is never easy. Those are strong words, and they are true when it comes to learning to play a musical instrument. The importance of keeping up your music lessons cannot be overstated. It takes patience, hard work, dedication, and the ability to work through the rough patches that you will come across, and I promise you that it won’t always be easy. But should you see it through to the other side, the rewards will more than make it worth your while.

Through my years of performance, I have long ago lost track of how many people told me they wish they would have kept going with their music lessons when they were younger, that one of their biggest regret is quitting, or that they wish their parents would have forced them to continue. It is a common story that I encounter all the time.

Get to the root of the issue

When students, especially children, express frustration with music, it doesn’t necessarily mean they hate it. More often than not, it means that they do not know what to do or where to start, or that they are facing a challenge, perhaps for the first time in their life, and are not equipped to overcome it. As educators and parents, it is important to get to the root of the issue. What is causing the student to be frustrated is more important than the fact that the student is frustrated.

The reality is that many students will quit music at a very young age. But it is important to be clear and determine if a student is just going through a rough patch or if music is really not for them. Do they have the correct instrument? Is practicing a part of their regular routine, and are they practicing correctly? Do they have the right teacher? Are they playing music that interests them, and is it at an appropriate level of difficulty? The answer to these questions will help you determine if keeping up your music lessons is the right decision for you.

There is not a single musician in the world who has not struggled at some point, or questioned their abilities or commitment to their craft. It is perfectly normal and there is only one way to get better: Don’t Quit.

Learning a musical instrument will help you

Learning a musical instrument will help you. It will teach you discipline, perseverance, work ethic, how to overcome challenges, how to organize your time. You will learn to believe in yourself, your abilities, develop your self-confidence, have the satisfaction of accomplishing something, and ultimately the pleasure of playing a musical instrument.

The thing about practicing regularly is that you will get better. As you get better, you will have more fun playing. When you have fun, you will play more. As you play more, you will improve your skills and develop your repertoire. It is really that simple. And along the way, you will need the wisdom to understand that sometimes you won’t be as productive. And the patience to work through those phases.

Keeping up your music lessons will get you here
Keeping up with music lessons will get you here

Create an environment for success

Students must be set up to succeed, and there are many factors that contribute to their success or failure. Parent and teacher support, along with proper practicing habits will go a long way to help create an environment for success.

Here is some information to help you from blogs previously published:

https://klmmusic.ca/blog/importance-playing-music/
https://klmmusic.ca/blog/importance-qualified-music-teacher/
https://klmmusic.ca/blog/importance-of-practicing/

If it was easy, everyone could do it

Watching a great performance is exhilarating. Playing a musical instrument is a special skill and doing it at a high level is a privilege reserved only for those who persevere. Remember that if it was easy, everyone could do it.

For more information about KLM Music Lessons, please contact usemail us, visit our website or call us at (403) 210-3339.

Practicing is the key to learning a musical instrument

THE IMPORTANCE OF PRACTICING.

So you see a great musician and you wonder how can someone be so good and so talented at something? The answer is easy: practice. Never underestimate the importance of practicing. No one is great at playing a musical instrument unless they have put in the time and effort. It is that simple. Albert Einstein said it perfectly: Genius is 1% talent and 99% hard work.

I have a lot of thoughts about practicing, and more importantly practicing correctly. It is very rare that I go a whole week without being asked the following question: how long should my child practice for? And to be honest, how long one should practice is important, but much more emphasis should be put into the crucial part about practicing: how to practice properly, and what happens in the time allocated to practice.

Practicing gets results.
Practicing gets results.

HERE IS A VERY COMMON PRACTICE MISTAKE.

Let’s take a piano student who has had about a year of lessons as an example. A typical new piece will have about 4 lines of music. Let’s say this student has 30 minutes to practice.

Here is perhaps the most common thing a parent will tell their child: “Play through each piece of music that has been assigned to you to practice five times”. Before you know it, the student has spent half an hour “practicing”. What was accomplish in that time? Nothing. Or close to nothing.

The reality is that students will most likely stumble through their music five times and probably not improve their pieces much, if at all. Then they will repeat the same pattern tomorrow, and on each subsequent practice day of the week.

SET PRACTICE GOALS.

It is extremely important to have a clear, laser focused, attainable objective before starting to practice. You must know what you are trying to achieve before you begin. Setting clear, realistic and measurable practice goals will make your practicing much more efficient.

Let’s go back to that piece of music that has 4 lines. It would make more sense to identify the structure and break the piece down in much smaller chunks. A good goal in a practice session might be to learn the first line hands separately. Start by figuring out the right hand, and then the left hand. Don’t even look at the rest of the piece. It is a waste of time to just play through it all when you should be focused on your practice goal of learning the first line. Playing the rest of the piece contributes nothing towards that goal.

BREAK DOWN THE MUSIC.

Imagine that instead of stumbling through 4 lines of music five times, you could play the first line 20-30 times in the same amount of practice time. You would actually retain that part of the music. And the bonus is that chances are that 3 of the 4 lines will be very similar, if not identical. So by doing that, you often will have mostly learned 3 of the 4 lines already, which is 75% of the piece.

If the line is too difficult, break down the music even more. Go measure by measure if you have to. There is no chunk of music that is too small to use as a practice session. The important thing is to be logical about it and break down the music in a way that makes sense and is manageable.

GO SLOW. AND PRACTICE REGULARLY.

Almost every student I have ever worked with wants to practice too fast. Much too fast. And practicing is often fairly irregular. Here is one very, very important piece of advice: Go Slow. And Practice Regularly. Take the time to learn a passage of music properly and slowly, with all the correct movements happening in time. When students practice too fast, they make mistakes, have pauses in the music, and hand movement is not in time. Going slowly and using a metronome will force the performance to be in time and the student will play the music correctly. It is easy to speed up a performance that has been learned correctly. Repetition is key, but it is important to repeat something that is played correctly.

BE GOAL ORIENTED. BE CLEAR.

Instead of being time oriented, be goal oriented. Be clear. You will accomplish much more that way and your progress will be exponentially faster. You will also instill good habits in your children that can be carried forward in other areas of their lives.

A note or a directive saying “Practice this Piece” is meaningless, especially for more beginner students. One of the most important jobs we have as educators or as parents/supporters is to help students understand and develop good practicing habits.

Be Specific.

Here is a better approach to help a student practice. Remember to be specific.

– Work on the first line only, hands separately.
– Put your metronome on at quarter note = 80
– Pay attention to the half note and be sure to hold it for 2 beats.
– There is a rest in the left hand at measure 3, be sure not to play the note through the rest.
– Remember to start the first note with finger #2 and that the first note of the song is a Bb.
– You will notice there is a crescendo from bars 4 to 6. Be sure to increase the volume there.

Practicing is easier with goals.

The idea is to give specific things to work on and to improve so the student knows exactly what to do. If you have been practicing in a way that is not goal oriented, it is not too late to change your habits. Go ahead and try, you will be amazed with the results. And you will feel like you have accomplished something each and every time you practice. That should inspire you to do it even more!

For more information about KLM Music Lessons, please contact usemail us, visit our website or call us at (403) 210-3339.