Learning anything new takes time, persistence and hard work, and the same is true for mastering an instrument. If you would like to learn how to shred on an electric guitar and wail out the main solo in Sweet Child O’ Mine, or if you’ve always wanted to play that Adele song you love so much on piano, the music teachers at Michelle Tuesday Music School can certainly teach you how.
But we don’t believe in that at MTMS.
We believe in the “teach a man to fish” theory. We want to teach you how to play an instrument, not a song. We want to educate you so thoroughly that your favorite Guns ‘n’ Roses or Adele song comes naturally, so that you are able to simply sit down and listen to it or read the sheet music, and, voila! You’re playing the song on your instrument. Just like that. And it really can be that easy, but it takes dedicated practice to get to that point.
For children, MTMS recommends one minute of daily practice for each year of the student’s age. A five-year-old should practice five minutes per day, and a ten-year-old should practice ten minutes per day. You can’t cram marathon training into one long practice session the Friday before the big race, and likewise, you can’t cram your music practice into a two-hour drill session the day before your music lesson. Slow and steady really does win the race. Find those five or ten minutes every single day – while waiting for the bus or after school as part of homework – and watch your child’s progress soar. As an adult student, find those twenty minutes every day and amaze yourself with your own accomplishments.
Even professional musicians, like the instructors you’ll work with at MTMS, continue to practice daily. When we don’t, we start to lose our polish. Over time, we start to lose our dexterity and start tripping over notes. If we’re singers, we start to sound hoarse and lose our upper and lower ranges, and we lose our vocal control. It has happened to all of us enough times in our careers to know that this is the secret to mastering the ability to play musical instruments.
You have to do it every day. There are no shortcuts.
We do understand that life gets in the way. We understand that you may be an adult student who travels on business and can’t take her piano with her. We understand that your seven-year-old son may have limited practice time this summer because of your two-month trip to India to visit grandparents who, unfortunately, don’t have a drum set in their house. We understand that your daughter is in the middle of meet season in gymnastics and exhausted every night, and her fingers may ache too much to successfully play her guitar. Some months are better than others, and that’s fine. We would be lying if we said that your music instructors didn’t have months like that, too.
But every month you don’t practice daily is a setback in your mastery of your instrument, and when you return to regular practice on your instrument, it will take a bit to get your muscles back into shape. Dedicated students of music will find these setbacks smaller and smaller each time they happen, if they continue to study their musical instruments year after year. Stick with it long enough, and it may be only a couple days before you’re back in the game, performing at the level you were at a month or two ago.
And before you know it, you’ll be performing the music of your favorite artist and making it look easy. Because, like any athletic endeavor, it is easy, once you’ve thoroughly developed the right muscles to pull it off.