Archive for February, 2016

Preparing for the First Music Lesson

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2016

5Oh my goodness! So exciting!!! You’ve found the right teacher and signed up to begin music lessons! What an incredible journey you’ve already begun. Being well prepared will show the teacher just how commited you are to this new endeavor.
What to take with you to your lesson

Show respect for learning by thinking ahead. Take some time to go over those notes you quickly jotted down while you were talking with the teacher. Anything specific they mentioned you should bring along with you? Here are some suggestions to get you started, depending on your situation.

  • If you are beginning from ground zero, bring the following:
    • Cheerful Attitude
    • Instrument and accessories (Shoulder rest, rosin, extra strings, metronome, tuner, etc.)
    • Notebook
    • Anything the teacher specified, including payment
  • Beginning instrument for the first time but you have other musical background:
    • Bring the music you have worked through, show your musical foundation to your new teacher.
    • Instrument and accessories (Shoulder rest, rosin, extra strings, metronome, tuner, etc.)
    • Notebook
    • Anything the teacher specified, including payment
  • Resuming lessons after taking a break from the same instrument:
    • Bring music to show your musical foundation
    • Prepare a binder of music you would love to play in the future, even if it is far beyond your level. This will show the teacher what direction your musical goals are pointing.
    • Instrument and accessories (Shoulder rest, rosin, extra strings, metronome, tuner, etc.)
    • Notebook
    • Anything the teacher specified, including payment
    • Be open minded and ready to accept new ideas of posture and technique!

What to expect from the teacher

If you have never met before, the teacher will be trying to learn you as a new student. Be patient! There are a lot of technical and (sorry – I hate to say it) political details to deal with at that first lesson. Most teachers do their best to stick to business, cover the basics, and get down to teaching. They want to send you home with something inspiring to practice during the week. They may hand you a few papers to read through at home in regards to policies and operations of the studio. Please be sure to read these and ask questions if need be.

Your teacher will need to examine your instrument to be sure it is in good working order. A violin will need to be tuned, which can take a terrible amount of time if it is not well maintained! If you want to be prepared in this area, take your instrument to your local music store prior to the lesson and have them look it over. Take care of any maintenance issues they suggest.

If you are resuming lessons, your playing level and musical understanding will determine what music books would be best for you. Your teacker may have you play several selections, from scales to pieces, to try to get a feel for your musicality.

First music lessonWhat might be expected of the student?

A beautiful attitude, eagerness to learn, a listening ear, and respect for the teacher! That just about sums it up! 🙂 Be prepared by bringing all the materials listed above. You may be asked to sight read, or copy cat the teacher on a couple basic ideas. You will likely be pushed out of your comfort zone, as that is how we grow, so be prepared for that.

What might be expected of the parent?

Parent involvement is so important in children’s music lessons! I love for parents to sit through the lessons and actually take notes so they can help their child practice at home. Even if they are just there to listen, it is important for them to know what is expected of the student during the week. Sometimes it works great for Mom or Dad to learn right alongside the student. (I don’t reccomend group lessons, each individual should have their own private lesson) Children learn very well by watching those around them. They will want to practice when they see you practicing.

During the lesson, the parent should do their best to sit and listen, without offering much input. The teacher has to learn how to work/interact with your child and it might take some time and patience from all sides.

What questions should you ask?

Be sure to understand everything the teacher has assigned for practicing. If they wrote the assignment down for you, be sure you can read their writing and understand what their notes mean. This is how you will know what is expected of you at the next lesson! Also, be sure to read and understand any studio documents given to you.


Dream Instrument or Piano First?

Monday, February 15th, 2016

Or Piano First

A question I am asked over and over again by parents. “Should I let my child start out on their instrument of choice or is it best to begin with piano lessons for a solid musical foundation?”

My answer vaires depending on the age, personality, and instrument preference. Piano does indeed provide an excellent music background. A year or two of piano lessons under your belt will make learning a 2nd instrument easier by leaps and bounds. Music theory is built on the piano keyboard, taught from a piano perspective. This is highly due to the fact that the piano is an effective visual aid in understanding musical concepts.

A young child with a short attention span is rewarded with success very quickly on the piano. They are able to begin playing tunes they recognize, such as Twinkle Twinkle, Mary Had a Little Lamb, and Lightly Row within the first month of lessons. The simplicity of the piano allows a student to sound good just as soon as they are able to get their fingers in the right place and press the keys in a certain order.

When learning a stringed instrument, it takes a bit of extra attention to posture and technique before a student is going to pull a strikingly beautiful tone from their instrument. Brass and woodwind instruments present a similar challenge due to embouchure, and air flow. Most students are ready for full size instruments when they have reached 5th grade. Music stores offer instrument rental programs and trade in policies to accomadate a short term need for smaller instruments for younger students.

Enthusiasm is something I love to take advantage of as a teacher! When a child has a sincere desire to play the violin, it is worth it to them to endure a little extra “pain” to achieve their dream. This helps us get over that initial hump, getting through the nitty-gritty mechanics of the violin.

We would all love for our child or student to be the next blooming prodigy. Starting at a young age, with a good teacher and parental support is essential for a student to meet their full potential. Let’s not pressure them and force our dreams on them though. Rather, let’s expose them to opportunities, with guidance, and let them blossom into the beautiful person they were created to be. If your child is a little older, maybe 8 yrs or older, I say let them pick their instrument. They are mature enough to have the patience to accomplish a more difficult instrument and they will appreciate the freedom to make this choice based of their personal taste.

In conclusion, my simple answer to this question is this: If it were my child, I would start them off with piano lessons around age 4 or 5 for early musical development. As they grew older I would encourage them to pursue a 2nd instrument of choice. Personally, I would keep my child in music until they were at least 12 years old. By then, a mature decision can be made in regards to continuing music. “I wish I never had music lessons!!” said no adult I know, ever!

Protected: Violin Method Book – Step 1

Friday, February 12th, 2016

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RV Dining Room Makeover

Thursday, February 11th, 2016

Well, we haven’t found an “RV Dining Set” that works for us. We had one for a while but felt it was much too bulky. We sold that and have kept our eye out for just the right table for over a year. In the mean time we use folding tables and step stools for chairs. Needless to say, we are happy to have a dining table and chairs again! This is what we settled on.