Music lessons Singapore: How to get your child started
Tune in to when and how to start your child on music lessons with tips from an experienced piano teacher.
There is no doubt about the fact that a child’s musical education is, more often than not, a rewarding one.
However, many parents who want to start their kids on music lessons often have many questions about how and where to begin.
In this article I address three basic questions that can help determine the overall direction of your child’s musical education.
When should a child start formal lessons?
Many parents have asked me if there’s a ‘suitable’ age to start learning music. Views are divided on this: some educators believe that children should start as young as possible. Others suggest starting later, (around the ages of six or seven), when the children are more mature and have better finger strength.
From what I’ve seen (having students from ages three to 65), age is not the key issue; there are more important factors parents should consider:
1. Interest and aptitude
Does your child show strong interest in the piano or music in general? If she enjoys listening to music, or demonstrates a great interest in musical instruments, singing, or rhythm, it’s usually a good reason to get her started.
Kids with good hand-eye co-ordination, an ability to count, or those with a knack for identifying patterns, often demonstrate good aptitude for music. Nevertheless, if your child does not demonstrate any special interest in music, this can be cultivated in time.
2. Discipline and concentration
Can your child concentrate for 30 minutes (the typical lesson duration for beginners) and understand the lesson requirements?
This is an important consideration as the ability of the child to learn is directly related to his ability to maintain concentration during the lesson. A less interested child will have to rely on his own discipline to maintain concentration.
3. Time and effort
Starting a music lessons requires time, commitment and effort — more from the parent than the child.
Time will be spent travelling to the teacher’s studio or the music school. Some parents may prefer for the teacher to come over to the house, but you need to consider if your child will get distracted.
Your child will be expected to practice daily for at least 30 minutes, as well as complete homework assigned. Younger students will require the assistance of their parents as they may not know how to structure their practice, or may not fully understand homework instructions.
Parents must be willing and ready to make some sacrifices to support their child in their music education.
Starting formal lessons requires the student to have the appropriate musical instrument at home.
If your child is learning the piano, are you able to set aside space for it? Have you also considered the cost to purchase the musical instrument or do you intend to rent first? How about the lesson fees, learning materials, examination fees, and any other miscellaneous costs?
Choosing the right instrument
There is a wide range of musical instruments to choose from, with each having its own unique character and appeal.
I would say that the right instrument is the one your child would like to play and has an interest in mastering. Simply bring your child to a music store and see which instrument your child reaches out for and stays at the longest! That said, preferences aside, it’s worth considering the following factors as well:
Does your child like to perform together with others or does he prefer to make music on his own? The piano, in particular, is more of a solo instrument. In contrast, string, woodwind, brass and percussion instruments are often played as part of a band or an orchestra, though they can be played solo as well.
What are your child’s physical attributes? Learning to play the piano or certain string instruments requires a good posture, and a certain degree of strength and endurance. Playing the piano, violin, or harp asks for a certain degree of finger dexterity and hand-eye co-ordination; long fingers help too. Other instruments such as the cello and double bass are big, and children who are bigger in size will find it easier to play these instruments.
Brass and woodwind instruments require good lung capacity.
A child playing an instrument which matches her aptitude and physical ability will probably have a more enjoyable time.
Choosing a teacher
Music is a complex subject and mastering it may take many years, depending on how far your child wants to go. So finding the right teacher for your kid’s musical journey is crucial- but where do you start?
Look out for the teacher’s qualifications. Most teachers minimally have an ABRSM Grade 8 qualification; others may hold diplomas or degrees.
Also look out for a teacher with a good track record of students who have outstanding exam results or who have won competitions. If achieving high examination results is your sole objective, then this approach makes sense.
The best teacher is one who cares for her students, is passionate about music, and has several years of teaching experience. She should be knowledgeable about the syllabus and methods, and be confident in handling a range of students’ personality types and ages.
Have a chat over the phone or speak face-to-face to learn more about the music teacher. Ask questions on her training, expectations from students, lesson terms, tuition fees and take the opportunity to see if you and your kid are comfortable with her.
Given that the musical journey will be a long and involved one, parent and teacher must work together, and parents must take an active role in guiding the child at home.
Lynn Tan, has been teaching the piano for more than 15 years. Prior to this, she was in the civil service. You can find out more about her studio at www.lynntanpianostudio.com or contact her at [email protected]