Is Your Kid Ready for Music Lessons?

As adults, we say age is just a number. When we have babies, often adults are looking at them to be sure they’re normal, or something, by checking milestones that happen at certain ages. Music lessons are not one of those checkbox milestones, but there are ways to see if your child might be inclined to start formal lessons.

Toddlers are able to identify rhythms and clap along, sing or dance. Having instruments around the house to play may be a sign that the child is interested. Does she want to play? Has he expressed interest in learning to play? Your school-age children may be learning to play in ensembles and need individual lessons. Check out our Preschool Music Class if you have a small child who loves music.

Every instrument can be noisy, so be ready for practice time. Regular practice teaches your kid discipline and perseverance. Your child needs to love the instrument, or at least have a great reason to learn it. Everyone involved should figure out how much space the instrument will take in the home, what time is available for practice and lessons as well as how far the lessons are from home.

My daughter tried drum lessons when she was 6, and she had exactly 4 when she wanted to switch to the banjo for the next 3 lessons. She wasn’t ready to stick to an instrument until she was a little older and started violin in 4th grade. My son, on the other hand, has always wanted to do drums, and took piano for two years as his entryway because the school district required it. We moved, he’s still in private lessons with MTMS for drums, and he loves it.

At MTMS, we’re ready to teach your kid about music. We start piano, drums, and violin as early as age four. We’re ready when you are. Can’t wait to be there for your musical journey.

October Theme

MTMS has chosen Barbershop Quartets as the theme for October. Whether you’re trying Lab Composition station or Music History, you’ll get to learn more about barbershop quartets and what they could sound like. We’ll also have offerings for our youngest students.

You may have seen barbershop quartets before. There are four parts: lead, tenor, baritone, and bass. While they sing a capella (without instruments), they may also dance or add spoken words. The organizations that promote these singing groups proclaim it is an American tradition-it is international (United States, United Kingdom, The Netherlands, Germany, Ireland, South Africa, Finland, Sweden, New Zealand, Australia, and Canada.)

2019 winner International Barber Shop Quartet Championship

September Theme

This month’s lab theme is all about Marching Bands! Did you know that armies have traveled with marching bands (percussion and wind instruments) since ancient times? Modern marching bands in America started with The University of Notre Dame Band of the Fighting Irish in 1845.

Whether you’re trying Lab Composition station or Music History, you’ll get to learn more about marching bands and what they could sound like. We’ll also have offerings for our youngest students.

Play One Instrument or Many?

Our instructors help keep their skills sharp with training and discussion about different aspects of music and teaching. This month’s discussion centers around this podcast about playing multiple instruments.

Walt says he has often run into sentiments of “lack of focus” or “not being serious” by playing multiple instruments (even by those who play multiples. However, his personal experience with multiple instruments has been fulfilling and adds perspective to different group musical settings. It’s also a great way to keep up interest by learning so many different things.

Leann wishes she’d learned an instrument besides the piano. (She’s also a vocalist.) Her academic schedule didn’t allow for more instruments and she wasn’t encouraged to take others. She resonated with the idea that each instrument provides a different perception and teaches something new and adds to the sensitivity of phrasing, melody, and understanding chordal relationships. It just makes you a better musician on all levels, when you can incorporate what you learn in one instrument to translate that to your primary instrument.

Andrew really resonates with this podcast in many ways. Like Walt he’s encountered the idea that playing multiple instruments shows a lack of commitment and focus. Even some teachers in the past who would say that learning multiple instruments is detrimental to playing both properly (ex. sax and trumpet). There are so many different musicians who play multiple at high levels such as Joey Defrancesco, Dave Grohl, etc. His experience learning multiple instruments has expanded understanding of theory, musicality and even the physicality of playing music. Each one has taught him something about how to create good music and how the roles of each instrument in different settings change. This learning has also given him a new appreciation for styles of music he wouldn’t regularly consume. While he will say that he can understand that if you don’t treat each instrument with a similar level of attention while a beginner at both may become confusing and slow one down, he believes that learning multiple at a time has a lot of benefits, especially picking up other instruments after years of learning one’s primary and context for what music is. Finally, while it was a smaller part he liked when they brought up the focus we have in the Western world on perfecting one’s instrument as quickly as possible. While that can make one very good in a short amount of time, this singular focus he’s found often leads to eventual burnout and a narrow understanding of one’s role in the broader ensemble.

Kristen says it’s really interesting thinking about your instrument with the whole ensemble and not just what your instrument plays. While you can always learn more instruments but she thinks you either need a goal in mind before switching instruments or keep playing all instruments regularly. She started with piano then flute and then voice. She was able to take note reading, rhythms, and some musicality with her to each instrument. Singing with vibrato helped her flute vibrato and also her tonality. She was able to hear on flute when she was in the center of the pitch as I do not have perfect pitch. She did also start learning clarinet. Right away she could tell if she was in tune with notes played before. She also had a great sense of whether the tone quality was good.

Sarah agrees that it is a very positive growth experience and good for overall musicality to learn more than one instrument. It gives you a different perspective for ensemble playing and a more complete understanding of how instruments work and sound together. If you are switching to a different type of instrument, it can even help you develop a completely different musical technique than what you had learned before. When she was learning music, she chose percussion in elementary school band class. So, just starting out, she had to learn two instruments from the beginning. Mallets, or the Glockenspiel, and the snare drum. It took more time and dedication to devote practice time to both instruments as a ten year old; but it was definitely doable, especially since she enjoyed it. She believes that if a student asks about learning a second instrument, the response should really be individualized for every learner. Are they devoted to practicing and learning? Do they have the time in their life to learn a second instrument? Are they doing well in their other school classes? Are they doing well on their first instrument? If not, it may lead to discouragement or lack of progress, and the student may give up on learning music altogether. It is definitely a careful balance; but worth it if the musician is determined.

I learned piano first. When band started, I picked up the trumpet. Eventually I’ve worked up to the guitar. Michelle gave me my first guitar lesson before MTMS existed. It may have helped me to only play piano for the first couple years playing music. My daughter started with the violin, also tried trumpet, and is now working on her vocal skills.

My son has always had a single-minded approach to music: he’s a drummer and he hasn’t expressed interest in any other instrument so far. When asked what he liked about piano, he answered “In two years I can play the drums.” (It was a school district requirement.) When he got to take lessons with Michelle- he’s been very happy. Also, in a related sense, he is a dancer who prefers tap above all else – think of it as drumming with your feet.

So, readers, what are your opinions and experiences with single or multiple instruments?