Students young and old should expect the best out of their music lessons at Northwest Music School. Our knowledgeable staff has created the following guidelines to help you and your child have a meaningful, rewarding experience learning music.
Start at the Right Age
How young is too young to learn a musical instrument or voice? Although it primarily depends on the instrument, learning music comes from the heart and children and adults of any age can benefit from exposure to it.
The key to success is knowing the right age to start your child, because that right age is unique for each child. That right age depends on your child’s natural ability, their desire to learn, and the type of instrument they want to play. Some instruments, such as guitar, may be harder for younger students to learn as it requires advanced finger dexterity. Others, such as the piano, can be a great first instrument with which to learn pitch, fundamentals of theory, and reading sheet music.
Below are some guidelines we recommend to help you determine the right time for your children to begin their music education.
1 to 5 Years Old
If a preschooler has a keen desire and wants to start music, we suggest an early-childhood specialty group music class. This will give them a good foundation in the basics of music-making. At this young age, a group setting is generally better because the child can learn music by playing games and interacting with others. Once this foundation is set, the child can enroll in private lessons.
6 Years and Older
Piano and Keyboard Lessons
At our school, the youngest age for private piano or keyboard lessons is 6 years old. At this age, children have longer attention spans and can retain the material better.
Guitar (Acoustic, Electric and Bass) Lessons
We recommend a minimum age of 8 years old for guitar lessons.. Playing guitar requires a child to apply a fair amount of fingertip pressure on the strings, which may be uncomfortable or difficult for children under the age of 8. For bass guitar, we recommend the student be 10 years or older.
Due to the physical nature of voice lessons, the youngest age we recommend is 10 years old for private vocal lessons. Voice lessons require proper breathing techniques and well developed vocal chords and lung capacity. Younger bodies are generally not yet ready for the rigor required of vocal training.
The starting age for drums varies greatly, depending on the size of the child. The student needs to reach both the pedals and the cymbals, which generally equates to an average age of 8 years old.
Flute and Clarinet Lessons
Woodwind beginners should be at least 8 years old so that they have the proper lung capacity to sustain notes.
The violin is the exception to most rules and children can learn this instrument at a younger age. We accept violin students beginning at age 6.
As an adult, you can start any instrument at any time. Your success is based on how willing you are to commit to practicing. We teach many beginner students in their 50s, 60s, and older who do extremely well.
Insist on Private Music Lessons when Learning a Specific Instrument
Group classes work well for preschool music programs and theory lessons. When learning how to play an instrument, however, private lessons are a far superior way to learn. Private lessons ensure that each student can learn at their own pace with individual attention. The student becomes the teacher’s primary focus. As such, the instructor can work on the student’s distinctive strengths and weaknesses, adapting the learning style, pace, and progression to match the student’s desire and ability.
Take Lessons in a Professional Teaching Environment
For music education to be successful, the learning environment needs to be focused and professional. The student should not be distracted by ringing phones, a noisy TV, siblings, or even pets. At Northwest School of Music, our professional learning environment offers a focused 30- to 60-minute session where the entire time is centered on teaching you music. This professional setting, combined with the skills of a qualified instructor, creates the ideal learning environment. Additionally, students in our school often get the chance to hear their peers, which can motivate them to study harder, practice more often, and move on to the next level. At our music school, lessons are not just a hobby, but a dedicated time to learn, achieve, and have fun.
Make Practice Easier
As with anything, getting better at music takes practice, whether you are learning a new instrument or learning to sing a new song. We understand that finding the time to practice is not always easy. However, taking the time to practice what you learn during your lessons is essential to building skills, seeing progress, and enjoying your music education.
Here are some simple techniques to make practicing easier.
Set the same time every day to practice so it becomes part of a routine or habit. This works particularly well for children. Generally the earlier in the day the practicing can occur, the less reminding parents will need to do.
This method works wonders with beginners, because for a young child, 20 or 30 minutes seems like an eternity. Instead of setting a set time, use repetition. For example, your child would practice a particular piece of music 4 times every day, or this scale 5 times a day. Using this method, your child will not necessarily pay attention to the amount of time they are practicing their instrument. Instead, the focus will be on the repetition number rather than the clock. Repetition is beneficial for intermediate and advanced students as well.
This works well for both children and adults. Parents can encourage children to practice by offering occasional rewards for a successful practice. At our school, we reward young children by placing stars and stickers on their work. Adults, on the other hand, may try a reward system that might include purchasing cappuccino once a week or an accessory for their instrument. At any age, the most coveted reward is praise. There is no substitute for a pat on the back for a job well done!
Use Recognized Teaching Materials
Several professional music educators have developed excellent music materials for students of all ages and all backgrounds. For example, in piano there are books for very young beginners, and books for adult students who have never played before. There are books that can start you at any comfort level or stretch you to learn more and do more. Be sure to select materials that institutions and instructors throughout the United States will recognize, particularly so a new teacher will be able to continue your lessons where your previous teacher left off. Our teachers only use materials that meet these standards.
Most importantly, HAVE FUN!
Music lessons are something you want to enjoy for a lifetime. Try not to put unrealistic expectations on yourself or your child to learn too quickly. Everyone learns at a different pace and at different levels. The best way to learn is to have fun along the way!