Performing at a recital can be great fun, but it can also be very stressful. Good preparation can help reduce your stress and make your recital performance more enjoyable for both you and your audience. Here are some tips to help you get ready for your big day. The “Milestones” are what you want to be able to do at that time. The “Goals” are what you want to start working on. Read More
1. You Don’t Have Goals. It’s hard to know if you are improving if you don’t have a standard for measuring progress. Tangible, specific, time-sensitive goals are the key to improvement in any endeavor. As a piano student, there are number of areas that might demand your attention. Posture, finger placement, dexterity, right/left hand coordination, pedal technique, knowledge of music theory all advance at different rates for different players. A documented game plan for improving your skills in each area is essential for improving your overall skills as a pianist. Add specific, tangible milestones and timeframes to your online practice log or good old fashioned paper journal (you have one of those, right?) and hold yourself accountable for achieving them. Read More
Learning to play a musical instrument benefits children in many ways, from supplementing brain development to improving social skills. If you want to get your child started on a music-filled path, the first big step is choosing the right instrument for them.
If your child has expressed interest in playing a particular instrument like the piano or acoustic guitar, you can let them try it out in a music store or a music school that offers trials to see if they will like it. If not, you can get your child started with instruments that are great for beginners. These introductory instruments are suited for children and are fantastic stepping-stones for moving on to other instruments in the future.
Piano or Keyboard
Playing the piano or keyboard gives children a good foundation for learning music. Different elements of music such as rhythm, harmony and melody come together in piano and offer learners a wealth of musical knowledge that they can use when they learn other instruments. For instance, playing the piano gives children a visual representation of music, allowing them to understand music theory better.
Another popular introductory instrument for children is the guitar because it’s easy to play and is more affordable and portable than a piano. Many teachers recommend getting a nylon-string guitar for children because the strings are easier on the fingers. Electric guitars for children are also a good choice because they don’t require as much strength to play as steel-string acoustic guitars.
The compact-sized ukulele remains to be a popular instrument for kids because of its small size and ease of playing. It only has four strings too and it’s very easy to learn for people of all ages. You may want to pick it up yourself!
The recorder is one of the easiest woodwind instruments to learn, and many children learn to play it before moving on to instruments that use a similar fingering system, such as the flute or the clarinet. Recorders are extremely portable and affordable too.
Children as young as 3 years of age can start learning to play the violin because it also comes in small sizes. Kids with small hands would be able to handle the instrument easily and comfortably. Some children find it easier to learn to play the violin because it doesn’t have frets to think about, allowing them to focus on the sounds the instrument produces. Children learning to play this instrument learn the basics in pitch and tone along with coordination and musical phrasing.
When choosing the right instrument for a child, it’s worthwhile to consider two important factors:
● Physical strength and compatibility – make sure the instrument is suited for the child’s body size and physical ability to make sure they are comfortable when playing.
● How the child likes the sound and how it’s produced – if the child likes how an instrument sounds and how the instrument is played to produce that sound, then it would be a good choice for a first instrument. However, if the child doesn’t like the sound or the way the sound is made (blowing, plucking, bowing, etc.) then they may not enjoy learning and may grow to resent the instrument.
To determine the instrument your child may like and would be a good fit, it would be a good idea to watch videos of people (kids especially) playing these instruments. Your child will then have a better idea of how an instrument sounds like and how it is played. Once he or she shows marked interest in a particular instrument, or tells you what their favorite is, then that would be the obvious choice.
Over the past few years, many of our parents have asked for some type of report indicating the progress of their student. With over 500 students at NFSM, this was one of those things that was easier said than done. We have been working hard in trying to put a system in place to get periodic feedback about your students from their teachers to help you track their progress and have a more involved role in supporting them as student-musicians.
We have put a new progress report system in place and we wanted to share with you how it works. These progress reports will be completed every quarter. The progress reports act as quick snapshots on how the student is doing.
BEHAVIOR – We ask the teachers to let us know of the student’s behavior in lessons. A mark of 10 denotes Excellent behavior while a mark of 1 denotes very Poor behavior. (NOTE: If you see a 1 for this item, chances are the teacher meant 1 as in no problem and it actually should be a 10.)
WHAT CAN YOU DO? Talk to the teacher. Find out what the behavioral issues are so you can help resolve the issues. One solution we have used for younger students in the past is the gold star system. Each lesson the student is prepared and has good behavior, they would get a “gold star” drawn on their lesson book by their teacher. After achieving a certain number of gold stars, the parent would buy them a small toy or gift. You can replace gold stars with every completion of a book, where the student gets a toy after completing each book. Motivation is key.
PRACTICE – There are no shortcuts to becoming a proficient musician. Sometimes people are born with natural talent and above average intelligence/attention span that can help that student progress faster than normal. However, no matter how much natural talent, all students must practice in order to become proficient and advance. A mark of 10 denotes that the teacher sees remarkable results from the student’s consistent practice where as a mark of 1 denotes that the student has poor results and either does not practice consistently or needs better practice habits.
WHAT CAN YOU DO? Talk to the teacher about proper practicing. The teacher will be able to tell you what they need to practice and how often and how long the student should practice. Students are to keep notebooks where teachers can mark what they need to work on so even non-musical parents can find out what pages have been assigned.
PREPARATION – In childhood we learn that preparation is a very necessary life skill. This portion is similar to the practice section except that it is more detailed in that the student has completed their assignments/homework on a regular basis and comes to the lessons prepared with their material. A mark of 10 denotes that the student consistently is prepared for lessons by completing their assignments on time and bringing their material/books for lessons.
WHAT YOU CAN DO? Make sure your student is completing their assignments. Teachers jot down assignments in the student’s note book so they know what to work on. As a parent or guardian, please make sure they complete these assignments or practice in between their next lesson. Also, teachers will tell you when it is time to get the next book for the student, please do not delay on this and order/purchase the book right away to make sure the lessons aren’t stalling.
PROGRESS – All students progress at different rates and there is no real standard for growth. We want to see that the student isn’t stalled and working on the same material week after week. Through hard work and practice, students should continuously progress. A mark of 10 here means that the student is progressing at an excellent rate. A mark of 1 denotes that the student has not progressed at all and is basically repeating the same lesson.
WHAT CAN YOU DO? Talk to the teacher about ways to help your student progress more. It could be due to lack of practice, motivation, or something else. The teacher will have potential solutions based on the specific student.
PARTICIPATION IN EVENTS – Though it is not mandatory to perform at NFSM events, we do encourage students to do so. Goal setting is one of the most efficient ways of progressing. We offer many events such as recitals, open mics, karaoke events, community performances, ABRSM exams, NFMC Festivals, NFSM Practical and Theory Assessments, and more programs throughout the year. A mark of 10 here means that the student does participate in different events and a mark of 1 means that student does not participate in any at all.
WHAT CAN YOU DO? Have your student participate in an NFSM Recital, Open Mic, or other event. NFSM Practical Assessments, Open Mics, and Recitals are great for first timers.
COMMENTS: We leave an empty area at the bottom of the report for teachers to comment more in depth about the student, where they excel and where they need more work. Most teachers will not go too in depth if the student is doing well so don’t be alarmed if there aren’t many notes here.
These progress reports are generally completed for students that are younger than 18 and have been with their current teacher for at least 2 months. If you have any specific questions about the progress report you receive for your student (including any difficulty in reading it) please see the teacher at your student’s next lesson for clarification.
With the invention of the Internet, guitar lessons have become less and less popular. We hear more and more stories about people who just taught themselves how to play the guitar by watching a couple of YouTube videos on the subject matter. This is especially true for guitar.
This is the classic debate of nature versus nurture. Are our musical traits found in our DNA? We all know that music is universal and doesn’t take any requirement but only from the satisfaction of listening, enjoying, and understanding. A study from the University of Helsinki Department of Medical Genetics has shown that infants are naturally interested in music from their musical receptive skills in early ages. This only implies that infants process musical patterns just as quickly as adults. Read More
It is the common belief that it takes about five years of intense study to become a great violinist. The violin has become an intimidating instrument to take up because of how much dedication the instrument requires. However, here are a few tips that could get you to your goal of becoming that violinist you’ve always dreamed of becoming at a much faster rate. Read More
In the summer months around Alpharetta, Milton, and Roswell, music lessons students might be tempted by the great Georgia weather and family vacation plans that take them outside of the North Fulton area to let their practice routines lapse and normal schedules get interrupted. This is especially true for young music students, who are often on vacation with their families between June and September. Many music teachers, too, move to a lighter or alternate lessons schedule in the summer while the bulk of their students are away or taking a break. Read More
There are numerous benefits to taking piano lessons, but recent studies have shown yet another benefit to learning the piano.
In a study conducted by E. Glenn Schellenberg at the University of Toronto in Mississauga, Schellenberg presents data that supports how the many aspects of playing the piano can contribute to boosting a person’s IQ. The study tested children’s IQs after nine weeks of piano lessons versus children who didn’t take any piano lessons. The results showed that the young students who took piano lessons increased their IQ by almost three points compared to those who didn’t take piano lessons. Read More
We get asked a lot, why take piano lessons?
Depending on the context of which this question is asked, we would have different answers. Here are a few general reasons why our Alpharetta students take piano lessons. Read More