I want to introduce my child to music. Where do I start?
Today there are unlimited opportunities to expose your child to music. Start learning nursery rhymes and other simple melodies with your children. Children follow by example so if you start to sing, they will sing along. At a young age, enthusiasm about music is everything and vocal quality is irrelevant. Encourage them to make up their own songs, perhaps using rhyming words.
Listen to as much music—preferably live music—with your child as possible. Go watch a town band, a school recital, or a local concert. Make sure, however, that the music is of a sensible duration or otherwise boredom will set in and a negative association with music will be made. The first half of a concert is plenty. Additionally, there are dozens of children’s TV shows that revolve around music that you can watch with your child, such as Jack’s Big Music Show and Sesame Street There are also millions of music clips on YouTube, including those of young musicians performing. We would especially recommend “From the Top” channel.
Go browse a music store, admire and explain to your child the various instruments. Take a quick look at sheet music as well as accessories. Allow your child to strum some strings and hit a few drums, if the store permits it.
And finally, start your child with music lessons. For children between ages 4 and 5 we offer several preschool group music programs at our Academy that begin to develop your child’s ear, his or her rhythm and hand/eye coordination. We recommend children between ages 5 and 8 start to learn the piano, violin or cello. Children older than 8 can start with any instrument of their choice.
How do I choose an instrument for my child?
If a child has been exposed to a variety of musical styles and mediums, he or she will often develop an interest in a particular instrument or type of instrument. It is always better to encourage an existing interest than to introduce a new one.
Sometimes parents have a strong preference for an instrument and are able to transfer their love for it to a child, encouraging him or her to learn a specific instrument. It is a very good way to introduce a child to an instrument.
If you have any doubts, it’s always best to start with the piano.
There are inherent benefits of every instrument so do not feel like your initial choice will short-change your child. Every instrument will improve his or her mental abilities, memory and coordination and will open a new and wonderful universe for your child.
What instrument to buy?
Our Instructors can always help you to choose an instrument. An excepted guideline, however, is to spend just a little more and buy an instrument in the best condition possible. It is an investment in your child’s education.
Buying a new instrument is always recommended. You want to give your child something that they will be proud to own, hold, and play. Both children and adults grow accustomed to an instrument and the way it handles. A new instrument will last longer, save you the hassle of continuously buying new pieces, and free your child from having to “re-learn” his or her instrument.
If you do choose a used instrument, make sure to have it inspected and adjusted. Properly adjusted, quality instruments don’t just sound better, they feel right and are easier to play.
Whether you buy an old or a new instrument, learn to care for it properly. It will add significant time to its useful life.
How do I choose the right teacher?
When choosing a doctor, you look not just for someone who treats you but for someone who cures you. Similarly, when choosing a music teacher, you should look for a person or a school that doesn’t just give lessons but one that teaches you to understand and maximize your abilities and your instrument, to love and appreciate music and provide many different opportunities to experience music in your life.
We have some tips for selecting the right teacher for you:
Music Schools vs Individual Teachers:
In general, most music schools provide more opportunities for their students than an individual teacher can. A school environment allows students to interact and learn from each other, play in orchestras and ensembles, study different musical subjects, perform and compete, etc. Schools also provide a more stable and structured learning environment and more accountability. You can always switch instructors and/or instruments without disruption and you can be sure to continue receiving a quality music education.
What to look for in a school or teacher:
Look at the achievements of the teacher’s or school’s other students. Not only is it an indicator of teaching abilities it is also a motivator. Like in sports, playing on a winning team with good players not only feels good, but makes everyone on the team to play better.
Look for performance opportunities. If students perform frequently at various public events, it means that the instructors are proud of their students’ achievements and give them many opportunities to showcase their skills and earn some applause. At the end of the day, music is a performing art.
Look for growth opportunities. Many teachers can get students up to a certain level of proficiency after which their ability to develop them stops. Therefore, you need to look at whether a teacher or school has the skills to take students to the highest levels of their own abilities and whether there are opportunities for increasing challenges.
Look for a learning environment. What activities do students participate in besides taking lessons? Are there any field trips, master classes, joint performances with dance groups or other activities that make learning music fun and educational at the same time?
How long and frequent are lessons?
Beginning children ages 4 to 5 years old should start with 30 minute lessons once a week. Beginning children ages 6 to 8 years old can start with either 30 or 45 minute lessons, depending on experience and developmental readiness. All other beginning students, including adults, should start with 45 minutes. Because our teaching process is tailored to each student, your teacher may recommend a longer lesson as the student improves or multiple lessons a week.
We want to try piano lessons. Do we need to by an instrument right away?
No. At the beginning you can rent or buy a keyboard. The most important thing to know when renting or purchasing a keyboard, is that it must have 88 full sized keys (each individual key should be the same size as an individual piano key) and it must be touch sensitive (if you hit the key hard it makes a loud sound, if you hit it softly, it makes a soft sound). A keyboard is a temporarily solution and a piano should be obtained within 6 months of starting lessons. Please read our “Guide to buying a piano for a beginner.” Learning music is a long term commitment and having an inadequate instrument will impede a student’s progress.
Can my two children have a music lesson together, or both myself and my child?
Even twins have different abilities and learn at different paces. As such, we insist on private instruction. If you are looking for convenience, we suggest that you try to take both lessons at the same time (with different teachers) or book them back-to-back.
May I be present at my child's private music lesson?
Yes. In fact, we encourage parents to actively participate in child’s music education.
What if my child starts lessons and then loses interest in an instrument?
Believe it or not, many kids experience frustration in the beginning. Many quickly overcome it. There may be many reasons why a child loses interest in an instrument: lack of a good rapport with an instructor, problem with the particular piece, or just natural difficulties of learning something new. We believe that learning music as a whole is more important than learning any particular instrument. As such, there are always options, whether it be to switch instructors, switch lesson times or even switch an instrument. Every child and every case is different and requires a different approach. If you are dedicated to your child’s music education, we encourage you to not let them quit without attempting to find the source of the frustration and attempting to remedy it. Talk to us—we can help.
What piano to buy?
Benefits of music education, especially learning piano, are very well known and many people want to start piano lessons. But they don’t want to invest in an acoustic piano right away and are looking at alternatives such as digital pianos. In general, beginners can get by using keyboard for 2-3 months before buying an acoustic piano, but you need to understand a trade-off.
Digital Pianos. If you really want to minimize your initial investment we suggest you start with digital pianos. Digital pianos, like every consumer product, vary vastly in price. But you can get the starter piano for around $500. Below is the list of starter pianos that we recommend:
1. Casio Privia PX130 or PX150
2. Yamaha P95 Digital Stage
3. KORG SP250 88-Key Stage Piano
You can buy them online ( Amazon, Ebay, etc). Google for the best price. You can also buy them in a store ( Guitar Center and others). Here is the link to Guitar Center website:
Make sure you have a stand and a bench included. If not, you need to get a bench and a stand separately. Newer versions of these models may already exist.
Acoustic piano is a complex mechanical instrument that can sing and must sing. Pianists learn how to do this very early in their careers. They learn how to extract the full palette of sounds by learning how to sit correctly, curve their fingers, apply weight to the keys and shape up sound with a wrist. Playing on an inexpensive keyboard and digital piano is like painting with two colors versus painting with the whole palette if you play a real acoustic piano. That is why ideally you want to have a real acoustic piano right from the very beginning of piano lessons.
Now, I assume that you have decided to buy an acoustic piano. What are your options? What type of piano to buy? Buying a piano is like buying a car – you can buy KIA or Lexus, brand new or used one. And like cars, expensive pianos hold their value for a longer time.
First of all, if you are buying a piano and not getting one as a gift, don’t buy a spinet. Usually, the higher the piano the better quality sound you get and higher pianos hold their tune better. We suggest the minimum height of 42-44 inches.
Buying a new piano. A decent console piano may cost between $7,000 and $10,000. Kawai and Yamaha are the most popular brands in this price range. Contact your local dealer.
Buying a used piano from a store. A decent beginner used piano usually costs from $3,500 to $4,500. There are some stores in our area that sell used pianos. Buying a used piano from the store has some advantages. Most of the stores offer one year warranty and one free tuning. We can recommend several reputable stores in the area.
Buying a used piano from a private party. Craigslist and local newspapers such as Sharon Advocate, Suburban Shopper and others are good sources to look for a piano. Very often you can find a real bargain. And as you bring your mechanic to look at a used car, you need a piano technician to look at the piano. This service usually costs $90-$120. Some piano technicians provide the extended service – they watch craigslist for you and when they see a good deal, they notify you and go with you to evaluate the piano. Many of our students used this service. Usually you can get a piano 30%-60% below a store price and, even with the added cost of needed repairs and tuning, you will still get a bargain. Contact us for contact information of the piano technicians, who provide this service.
Free pianos. Sometimes people want just to get rid of their pianos and offer pianos for free or for a nominal price. Again, craigslist and local newspapers are good sources to watch for these offers. Usually once or twice a year somebody calls our Academy and offers a free piano. We maintain a list of people, who are interested in these offers. Please sign-up if you are interested.
Piano moving. Piano moving, depending on the distance and a floor a piano needs to be moved from and to, may cost between $250 and $600. The prices vary a lot, so contact us for referrals.