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How to Ensure your Child Succeeds In Music – Step 1

Private Lessons and The Crucial Role of Teaching Music Students How to Practice

Learning to play music or sing with skill and conviction is thoroughly dependent on the quality of practice. Music lesson programs at Young Artists Conservatory of Music are based on four pillars: Private Lessons Ensemble Experiences, Classroom Theory and Musicianship and Frequent Performances. This article we will uncover an integral element of Part 1: Private Lessons and Practicing.

At YACM, private lessons for beginning and intermediate students are fundamentally aimed at developing the student’s ability to effectively practice at home. Without developing the skill to practice well, students can feel frustrated and even give up. But we are here to help young people never give up.

Let’s face it, doing something where you make mistakes or get confused isn’t fun and often isn’t very motivating; especially when you’re 8-years old. Why not? Well, research shows that people do things that make them feel good. But when we practice, we are forcing ourselves to do something that we don’t yet feel good about. A common example is when you hear your child, playing the beginning of the piece over and over, but never progressing to the new music in the middle part. Or when you hear your child play the pieces they’ve mastered in the past in lieu of practicing new material. These examples prove, your child enjoys playing piano and feeling good about it. AND, your very normal child who wants to be a musician, resists the struggle to learn new skills- they resist practicing.

The good news is research also shows that when we face challenges and overcome obstacles, we not only gain new skills, but we also increase resilience and self-confidence. Children will resist practicing if they don’t know how to overcome the challenges, feel alone or anxious. YACM instructors are here to help. Our job is to give music students the process for facing difficulties so they can experience small successes that grow into larger successes each week. So they can never give up and become musicians.

Private lessons for beginners and intermediates not only teach new musical concepts and techniques, but most importantly teach “How” to practice at home. Telling a young student “How” to practice is a powerful difference from telling them “What” to practice. Good private lessons tell students “How” to achieve the “What”.

In this example of the difference between “What” and “How” you can see the importance of never leaving out the “How” and ensuring you’ve chosen an instructor who can communicate the important steps while empowering as self-determination.

Piano Student Example 1

What: Practice your scale of D major for next week’s lesson.

What: Don’t hesitate at the first half step.

What: Be able to play the scale with a metronome BPM of 96 = using quarter notes.

Piano Student: Example 2


At your next lesson demonstrate a smooth an even scale of D major at your top accurate speed.

How 1:

Practice separate hands slowly for the first 2 days, until the half step crossing feels smooth and all the tones sound even.

How 2:

On day 3, practice hands together very slow using metronome of 60 bmp = 1 quarter note. If you make mistakes use a slower BPM.

How 3:

Once you master a tempo, turn up the metronome BPM little by little until your next lesson.

In the second example you can see how the student’s lesson goal is communicated in a way that gives them influence over how they perceive their success “at your top accurate speed”. This empowers the student, motivates self-determination, and contributes to a less anxious practice experience. Additionally, the “How” steps 1-3 are intuitive of the instructor’s understanding of what it will take to ensure the student experiences small successes while gaining necessary technique.

To understand the importance of a great private lesson, look for these three elements of empowering practice.

  1. Look for a private lesson instructor that empowers your child to practice by teaching them how to overcome challenges.

  2. Parents who attend private music lessons are more likely to know how to help during at home practice.

  3. Establish and celebrate large and small achievements. Feeling successful, self-determined, and confident are key to musicianship.

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