What kind of music lessons are right for you?

This time of year, we find ourselves focused on goal setting and self-improvement. By now, you’ve likely heard about the benefits of music lessons: higher test scores, improved academic achievement, better communication skills, strengthened creativity and more. Perhaps signing your child (or yourself!) up for music lessons has been on your to-do list for some time. The challenge is this: you don’t have a one-size-fits-all child, so you don’t want one-size-fits-all music lessons. If that’s the case, where do you start? Elementary Connections asked our friends at Meridee Winters School of Music, how do you determine what type of music lessons are right for you and your child?

The choice of what type of music lesson, as well as the instructor, is an important one. Choose well, and your child is not just learning a great skill, but is excited about music and receiving one-on-one mentorship from an adult who cares about them and their growth. With a poor match, however, a student may interpret the mismatched learning style as “I just don’t like this instrument” or, even worse, “I’m just not good at it.” Read our tips on finding your musical match, and take our short quiz at the end of this article to help identify your own “lesson type.”

Tip 1: Choosing Your Instrument

Piano and guitar are the “heavy hitters” of music lessons, although there are other fun options like voice, ukulele, violin and more. Piano is a great first choice as it has a visual layout, can accommodate small hands, and can easily translate to other instruments later. Many households already have a piano on site, which is certainly an added bonus. Guitar can be a bit more of a challenge for small children, but a local music store can help find the right sized instrument for your musician. (Ukelele is also becoming popular, and can be a fun introduction to music for students of many ages.) Voice lessons are popular amongst those hoping to break into musical theater, although caution must be taken while young voices are still developing. (For this reason, we often recommend that vocal coaching is paired with piano lessons for young students, for a “play and sing” type lesson, rather than strict vocal training.) The most important question is this: what instrument is your student excited about? Do you have a Taylor Swift fanatic who is dying to learn guitar? A child who can’t pass by the piano without plunking out a few notes? Capitalize on that, and you’ll have a student who is excited to learn, and to practice.

Tip 2: Take Your Learning Style Into Consideration

You know better than anyone what works for your child. Do they do better with a formal, by-the-book approach? Do they have a free spirit and want nothing more than to create and compose? Does your child have a learning challenge like ADHD or ASD and needs a teacher trained in techniques like stimulus variation and armed with activities to boost progress? Talk openly with any potential instructor about your child’s needs, and they should be able to explain to you how they will be able to meet those needs, and make great music along the way. (It’s worth noting that our school, the Meridee Winters School of Music, has 40 instructors, including classically trained musicians, music therapists, performing artists and more, all trained on educational techniques and a variety of instruments including piano, voice, guitar, violin, ukulele and drums.)

3) Figure Out Your Ultimate Goal

Do you want your child to learn the classics of Beethoven and Mozart (noble goals, certainly) or are you viewing lessons as something that’s “just for fun”? Perhaps you have a child who wants to perform in shows or with friends. When speaking to a potential instructor, bring up your goals, as that will help you find someone who is on board with your expectations, and who can direct your lessons accordingly.

Try taking our quiz below to find out your “lesson type,” and make 2018 a year of music!

Which of these goals is most important to you?

A. Having fun while making music
B. Getting results, learning the classics
C. Being able to express yourself and create
D. Performing for or with others

Which of these activities does your child enjoy most?

A. Trivia & board games, challenges, races
B. Reading and writing
C. Drawing, arts and crafts
D. Singing, dancing, joking around

What kind of music are you interested in?

A. Popular music, movie themes
B. Classical music
C. Singer-songwriters, acoustic music
D. Current hits

What aspect of lessons excites your child?

A. Challenges and rewards
B. Learning impressive-sounding songs
C. Learning to accompany him or herself
D. Jamming with the teacher

What kind of lesson would work for you?:

If you scored mostly “A”s, you have a “Playful Student.” This student wants to learn music (of course), but also wants to enjoy the journey along the way. Younger students are often playful by nature, and will benefit from a teacher who incorporates games and variety into lessons. For learners with alternative learning styles, games and repertoire can be used to focus on strengths, especially with pattern-based pieces. (Meridee Winters School of Music teachers are all trained on this technique.)

If you scored mostly “B”s, you have a “Serious Student.” While there’s still plenty of joy in lessons, your approach to music is more traditional. You’ll benefit from a teacher who can select great classical pieces and help you master technique. Beginning students may be inclined to choose piano or violin as their instrument.

If you scored mostly “C”s, you have a “Creative Student.”  A creative student longs to (and should!) learn how to solidly play their instrument, but with the end goal of being able to use their musical skills to create their own material. A student like this may have a musical idol that they hope to emulate. A teacher who can help the student learn to play the songs of this idol, and then study the technique to craft their own songs will have great success. Guitar or piano, with optional vocal coaching, would be a great choice for a student like this.

If you scored mostly “D”s, you have a “Performing Student.” That’s probably not a surprise to you, though, as your child may often find him or herself entertaining and generally “hamming it up.” This type of student may also have a musical idol they hope to emulate. When selecting a school or teacher, ask specifically about performance opportunities for your child, and if the teacher will be able to work on repertoire in your child’s favorite genre. Keeping lessons in line with your child’s interest will boost practicing and decrease the risk of quitting.

Whatever your “lesson type” may be, we hope you follow through on your to-do list item of starting music lessons. The benefits are life-long, and the joy is contagious. If you are a Main Line resident looking for creative, in-home music lessons, the Meridee Winters School of Music prides itself on music lessons that are custom-tailored to students’ interests. (We proudly have teachers for students of all types: playful, serious, creative, performance-minded and totally unique!) We invite you to reach out to us to find out more.

Here’s to meeting goals and making music!

For more information about our school, please visit our website  https://www.mwschoolofmusic.com/