HO-HO-HO-LY Kris Kringle
I just got an instrument, now what?
Are you like hundreds of people who have either given or received an instrument for the holidays? There is nothing better then a shiny red guitar or a drum set with a million loud cymbals. But wait, there IS something better - actually being able to play it!
My name is Laura Readyoff and I am the co-owner of The Music Loft in Herndon, Virginia. I have been a music educator for over 25 years in New York and Virginia. Let me share some helpful guidelines to help you choose the right music school so you can Deck The Halls with music instead of having a Blue Christmas!
Let’s start with why a great instructor is so important for a musician’s success.
A great instructor is one who can inspire, teach, encourage, and nurture students’ talents. A great teacher brings out the very best in the student musically and personally. The following traits characterize an effective music teacher: Knowledgeable, motivating, organized, personable, and creative. These characteristics form the main ingredients of a great teacher. It’s the difference between a delicious frosted gingerbread house and a teeth-cracking holiday fruitcake!
You wouldn’t want anyone but Rudolph guiding your sleigh tonight, would you?
When you are sick, you see a doctor. When you need to file your taxes you seek out a CPA. So, when choosing a music teacher, why would you choose anything but a
certified music educator? Music educators have a specific set of skills and are trained to work with students of any age, learning abilities, and styles. In reality, they are guiding your musical sleigh through a snowstorm of new information, with the student as willing (and eager!) passenger. You want the best in the field; someone who has something unique and special to help cut through the er, fog …very much like Rudolph and his red nose. Just like Santa and his team of reindeer, the instructor and student work together as a team to ensure the best learning experience for the aspiring musician.
Can you get a Partridge in a Pear Tree without buying the whole 12 days? A reputable store/school will offer a free trial lesson. A free trial lesson is a great way to assess if the student is interested in his/her shiny new instrument. It is also an important tool for determining whether the prospective teacher and student will work well together. During the trial lesson, I suggest asking several questions:
Is the teacher really interested in the student?
Is the teacher knowledgeable and prepared?
Are there specific learning goals in place?
What should the student expect at each lesson?
Does the student (and equally important, the parent) feel comfortable and welcome?
Do students feel like they are “Home for the Holidays” or just “Got Run Over by a Reindeer”?
With our fast paced lives, more and more people settle for convenience, instead of quality. However, there are some things that ought not be compromised such as quality medical care or vehicle repair. That is why you travel the extra 10, 15, 30 minute distance, right? The same standard should apply when choosing a place for a student’s musical instruction. The overall environment should have a warm, welcoming feeling. The studio rooms should be clean and comfortable.
There should be enough room for the teacher, student and a visitor (eg., parent) to sit. This may sound like common sense. However, many music stores provide a less-than-optimal learning environment. These may include small, dirty rooms located in a basement or back of a store which communicates music lessons are considered incidental to selling musical instruments. Unfortunately, places like this are numerous but The Music Loft prides itself on being the standard against which other music facilities are measured. The teacher and the studio environment are an important part of the student’s overall experience. Choose quality over convenience.
What’s in your Christmas cookies?
All parents know the secret ingredient to a great Christmas cookie....it’s TLC (yes, tender loving care!). Cookie cutter music facilities are often more flash than substance. They may look appealing on the outside, but one bite tells you all you need to know – their chef forgot some key ingredients! Be wary of choosing the biggest cookie......you may wind up with a belly ache!
Don’t be a grinch! The simple truth is that you get what you pay for. Do not skimp on quality musical instruction. A good educator will inspire, nurture and bring out the very best in the student. I know that parents often wonder why should they invest in music lessons. The benefits of participating in a music program with personalized instruction are numerous and many clinical studies support music’s ability to enhance creativity and self expression, self discipline, self esteem, self confidence and efficacy, self discovery, cooperation, time management, appreciation of other cultures, and increased interest in school (eg., study conducted by Christopher Johnson in 2004 documents such benefits). Every new or driven-to-be-better student is well worth the investment of a quality music lesson experience.
Let me leave you with my “teacher” version of a quote from The Grinch....
“And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow,
stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so? It came without ribbons. It came without tags.
It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled 'till his puzzler was sore.
Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before. What if teaching, he thought, doesn't
come from a store. What if teaching, perhaps, means a little bit more.”
― Dr. Seuss, How the Grinch Stole Christmas
Written by Ms. Laura Readyoff co-owner of the Music Loft located in Herndon VA. Ms. Readyoff has been a music educator in New York and Vriginia for over 25 years. Her vision is to teach, develop, and inspire the next generation of musicians in a welcoming, nurturing, family-friendly environment. For more information about The Music Loft please visit our website at www.TheMusicLoftOnline.com and don’t forget to “Like” us on Facebook!