January 13th, 2010 / Author:
Yes! The parent, teacher, student TEAM. A good team is key to any student’s success – more important than motivation and even talent on the part of the student. I can nearly always predict how lessons are going to go after just a few meetings, based on the student and how well we work together, but also – and often more accurately – on what the parent does and says. Are they on time? Does the student have all of their lesson materials? Can they tell me how practice went over the week, and if it was less than ideal, do they express frustration, or are they matter-of-fact and frank about what happened or didn’t happen? In other words, is the parent entering into the lesson experience with the attitude of team member, or leaving it up to their child and the teacher, providing little more than a ride to and from lessons? When the teacher is good (and a good fit), the student is at an appropriate place to begin lessons, and the parent is willing to support their child by supervising practice and following the teachers’ suggestions with an open mind, there exists a team, and success is possible. Without that parental support, however, lessons often become frustrating for all involved.
What many parents struggle to understand – even when they hear it from their teacher (whose job it is to find a way to effectively communicate and assist in problem-solving) – is that it is absolutely normal for students to resist disciplined practice. They are kids, and left to their own devices, would do many things very differently without parental guidance. Even the self-starters, who love to play, and are wonderful students, would likely struggle without excellent guidance at home. So take heart when your child resists practice – you’re not alone! Do listen to your child, and try to determine where the trouble lies (discuss the issues with your teacher), but also expect daily practice with rare exception, and know that you are the authority figure – practice is not a point of negotiation anymore than homework is. Make your expectations clear, and consistent with your teacher’s, and stick to them. There is ALWAYS a solution to practice issues, but it does take a good team. Your teacher must be competent, caring, and creative with problem-solving; you, as the parent, must make a decision to support success every day (just as you have with schoolwork); and the student must do their work as asked, be respectful in lessons, and know that it is always ok to ask questions and discuss problems with their parent(s) and teacher.
October 10th, 2009 / Author:
It seems that wherever you turn, there is news and advice about the H1N1 flu virus, so I think it’s an appropriate time to encourage everyone, students and teachers alike, to take excellent care of yourselves and your children this season. In the studio, we often share small spaces and keyboards, so it’s absolutely important to keep in mind the best preventive measures to avoid catching, or passing on, cold and flu viruses.
Wash your hands often – before and after eating, cooking, handling food, using the restroom, blowing your nose, coughing, and sneezing. In some instances, using hand sanitizer is fine, but washing your hands is ideal.
- Always wash your hands before and after your lesson – especially if you are studying piano.
- Avoid touching your face, and if you must do so, wash your hands.
- Avoid touching doorknobs and sink faucet handles with your hands, use elbows or paper towels to avoid hand contact.
- Keep sanitizing wipes on hand to disinfect these surfaces.
- Drink plenty of water.
- Eat a good diet, full of fruits and veggies, and take your vitamins.
- Get regular exercise, even if it’s just a short walk each day.
- Get plenty of sleep.
- If it’s recommended by your doctor, get your flu shots.
With our busy lives, it may seem impossible to find time to do all of these things religiously, but the time and expense of getting sick, not to mention discomfort, is far more costly. If you do get sick, stay home – from work, from school, and from your lesson. If you are at the very end of a cold, or feel like you might be coming down with something mild, you may be ok to continue your schedule, but you should take extra precaution not to spread the illness, and cut out anything extra that you don’t absolutely have to do. And rest. Downtime and sleep are invaluable in warding off illness.
Stay healthy and well,
March 1st, 2009 / Author:
In today’s world of busy schedules, tight budgets, increasing pressure to juggle careers and kids, it’s easy to wonder on occasion why music, art, and other forms of entertainment are important. At first glance, these seem to be “extras” in our daily lives. We can’t reasonably live our lives without food, shelter, clothing, income, exercise, doctors, cars . . . the list goes on. But we can make it through a day, a week, months, and years, without the inclusion of art and music in the fabric of our schedules. This begs the question, what is the purpose of music then, other than pleasure and distraction, if we can live without it?
The answer is simply the health, well-being, growth, and advancement of our minds. It is our mind, after all, that sets us apart from other animals. It is our mind that gives us the competitive edge in the world’s food-chain. Our intelligence gives us the capability and creativity to survive, arguably, just about anything. Our intelligence is a powerful and potent tool, one which may very well be our salvation, at the same time that it poses the threat of destruction. How we use our minds, our intelligence, may determine what happens to our species, as well as those species with whom we share the earth.
If this intelligence is so vital, it seems we should foster it, nourish and develop it. We should give our minds those things which encourage creativity, happiness, and thoughtfulness. Music is the very manifestation of our thought and intellect, so we should pay close attention to it. In addition, the study of music serves to develop our intellect, and the appreciation and enjoyment of music and art serves to calm, enlighten, and inspire us. So whether you are the creator, the student, or the audience, music is vital to your mental and intellectual well-being. Music also help us to express our humanity, to communicate that which is beyond words and language. For many, it is cathartic, emotional salvation. Creating music, creating art, helps us psychologically to put order and meaning to our experiences. In this way, music and art cross over to the spiritual.
All of these benefits – expression, communication, intellectual development, creative development, inspiration, comfort, pleasure – have now been studied and observed in the scientific community. It has been shown time and again that music is a particularly potent form of mental, emotional, and intellectual stimulation. It is no longer just a hunch, a feeling, or a belief that music is important, but a documented scientific fact. And it’s also becoming clear through a variey of studies that music is vitally important at every age and stage of life. Early on, it increases intellectual, academic, and social development. Later on, it keeps us sharper longer, and can even be a potent tool in managing and treating illness and disease.
Because we now understand how music, and all forms of art, are integral to our mental and intellectual health and well-being, we must assume the responsibility to include it in our daily lives, to foster it’s support and growth within our communities, and treat it as core curriculum for our children. Without it, we may survive for a long time, but will our quality of life suffer as a result? Will our way of life continue? Will we have the tools to meet the future challenges which we cannot even imagine?
Now imagine a world where every person has the opportunity to master a musical instrument. Imagine a world where everyone has experienced at least one moment of genuine achievement, that feeling of “I did it!” Imagine a world where all children are more likely to play the piano in their free time than a video game. Imagine a world where young people are more likely to join a community chorus, band, or orchestra than a gang. This is a world that we can create.
January 9th, 2009 / Author:
January 9th, 2009 / Author: