Tag: ukulele lessons

Setting Your Child Up for Success

In today’s day and age, whether music lessons are virtual or in person, it is important to have proper tools at home for setting your child up for success with music education – no matter what instrument is being studied.

Music education is investment in your child. It’s not just about music, it’s about acquiring and mastering new learning and life skills that will shape and aide your child in navigating school, their future workplace, community and social situations throughout life. It’s about discovering a creative outlet, self esteem and so much more. But I digress as this is not about the plethora of benefits attributed to music education, it’s about making that music education successful!

Life has changed considerably throughout this pandemic and, in fact, in many ways for the better. Since we have moved our lessons to an online platform, one of the benefits we have seen at Sing Music Studio is getting a bird’s eye view into the at-home set-up our students have for practice. In some cases, it’s been just right but in others it’s been quite shocking to see the lack of appropriate at-home tools required for setting your child up for success with their music education. As musicians and educators, I think we sometimes take for granted our knowledge and forget to impart some of those really important basics on to our students! So let’s talk about what those important at home tools are, by instrument that we teach right here at Sing Music Studio.

Piano

  • A full 88 key digital piano/keyboard with touch sensitivity, weighted keys and a sustain pedal OR an acoustic piano.
  • Please note that if you have an acoustic piano, it will require tuning a minimum of twice a year (rule of thumb is when the weather changes from hot to cold and cold to hot).
  • Pianos and most digital pianos/keyboards have a built in or attachable music stand for reading music. If your keyboard does not, then you will need a separate music stand to sit behind it for displaying music for reading while playing.
  • An adjustable bench is recommended for growing students as they will need the bench to be higher when they are smaller and lower when they are taller so an adjustable bench will grow with them. Acoustic pianos often come with a fixed bench so a cushion may be necessary for extra height for very young students.
  • A footstool is also ideal for students whose feet do not reach the floor when seated.
  • A device for playing audio tracks, using any additional music apps, metronome and the Better Practice App that we use at Sing Music Studio.
  • For virtual lessons a laptop or device set-up with a side view of the student with instrument. Ideally the laptop/device should be elevated and angled down in order to get the best view of the fingers.

Singing

  • A sturdy music stand for holding sheet music and music books.
  • It is ideal for the student to stand but if the student will be seated, a sturdy chair preferably without arms is ideal so the student can sit on the front portion of the chair with appropriate posture.
  • A device for playing audio tracks, using any additional music apps, metronome and the Better Practice App that we use at Sing Music Studio.
  • Bonus but not required: a microphone, microphone stand, appropriate speaker and XLR cable (some students use a karaoke machine).
  • For virtual lessons a laptop or device set-up with a direct front view of the student and music stand. Ideally the laptop/device should be elevated and angled down over the music stand in order to get the best view. 

Guitar

  • An acoustic or electric guitar – 1/2 size, 3/4 size or full size depending on the size of the student.
  • For an electric guitar, a practice amp and patch cable are also required.
  • For an acoustic guitar, a guitar footstool is recommended as well as a sturdy chair in which the student can easily touch the floor with both feet while sitting on the front portion of the chair with correct posture. The footstool will be used for one foot only and is shaped in a slope to accommodate correct posture.
  • A sturdy music stand for holding sheet music and music books.
  • A device for playing audio tracks, using any additional music apps, metronome and the Better Practice App that we use at Sing Music Studio.
  • For virtual lessons a laptop or device set-up with a direct front view of the student with instrument and music stand. Ideally the laptop/device should be elevated and angled down over the music stand in order to get the best view. 

Ukulele

  • A decent quality ukulele.
  • A sturdy music stand for holding sheet music and music books.
  • A device for playing audio tracks, using any additional music apps, metronome and the Better Practice App that we use at Sing Music Studio.
  • A sturdy chair in which the student can easily touch the floor with both feet or use a stool for both feet while sitting on the front portion of the chair with correct posture.
  • For virtual lessons a laptop or device set-up with a direct front view of the student with instrument and music stand. Ideally the laptop/device should be elevated and angled down over the music stand in order to get the best view. 

Recorder and Clarinet

  • A decent quality recorder or clarinet.
  • A sturdy music stand for holding sheet music and music books.
  • A device for playing audio tracks, using any additional music apps, metronome and the Better Practice App that we use at Sing Music Studio.
  • A sturdy chair in which the student can easily touch the floor with both feet or use a stool for both feet while sitting on the front portion of the chair with correct posture.
  • For virtual lessons a laptop or device set-up with a direct front view of the student with instrument and music stand. Ideally the laptop/device should be elevated and angled down over the music stand in order to get the best view. 

Drums

  • Drum sticks (our instructor recommends starting out with Vic Firth 5A) – at least 1 pair though it’s not a bad idea to have a few pairs.
  • At the very minimum, the student should have a practice pad.
  • Ideally, the student should have an appropriately sized drum kit that includes a minimum of drum throne (that’s the seat), bass drum, snare drum and hi-hat. Additional drums and cymbals can be included from the start or added later. Either an acoustic or an electric kit is suitable.
  • A sturdy music stand for holding sheet music and music books.
  • A device for playing audio tracks, using any additional music apps, metronome and the Better Practice App that we use at Sing Music Studio.
  • For virtual lessons a laptop or device set-up with a direct front view of the student at the drum kit or seated with the practice pad.

You might have noticed that I mentioned the Better Practice App in the lists above. This is an amazing new tool we are using at Sing Music Studio that aides the student in setting up terrific practice habits. Our instructors assign homework right in the app each week and can include audio and video links and recordings and pdf’s right in each assignment! Students login to their private accounts to follow their homework notes and practice. They can utilize a built in metronome, play along with recordings (and even adjust the tempo), work towards specific goals and even ask questions directly to their instructor. Once they have completed practicing an assignment, they rate themselves on how well they practiced and this intuitive app then logs their practice and makes recommendations on what to practice in their next session! This tool adds accountability, excitement and helps students to tangibly see their progress – creating a better practice routine and setting your child up for success!

As I mentioned earlier, music education is an investment and therefore requires investment in the appropriate tools to set your child up for success. Sure you can buy an inexpensive toy guitar or ukulele at Toys R Us or a cheap knock off keyboard at Costco but are these “instruments” (that easily break and rarely stay tuned) the quality tools you want to provide for your child’s musical success? And when I say quality, I’m not saying you need to go over the top with high end, high priced instruments. There is a wide range of affordable and suitable instruments that are made by companies that specialize in instruments out there. You wouldn’t purchase a car from a box store so why would you purchase a keyboard from a toy store? Music stores are the best choice for purchasing an instrument as the staff are knowledgeable and can aide you in the most appropriate purchase for your child’s size, age and stage of learning and usually have a repairs department. Music stores often sell used instruments and many have rental departments which is a great option for beginner students who have signed up for our 4 week trial.

In addition to having the right tools, let’s talk about the best environment at home to set your child up for success with their music education. Create a designated music area for your child’s practice and virtual lessons that is private and free from interruptions. That means it’s a sibling free zone (I can’t tell you how many times we’ve seen younger siblings running circles in the background during virtual lessons distracting the student from their playing, lol) and away from family members’ conversations and other household noises. This may not be 100% possible depending on your at-home environment but (especially for virtual lessons) minimizing the distractions is very helpful in teaching your child to focus and setting you child up for success. The extra sounds during a virtual lesson actually create a lot of interference, glitching and poor sound quality during a lesson which make it more difficult for both the student and the instructor.

Finally, for our young beginner students, when you (the parent) get involved, you really are setting your child up for success. By guiding them in their practice each day and even sitting in on their lessons each week, you are helping them to feel supported and secure. Children learn best when they have an engaged parent alongside them. You are your child’s number one teacher – and you have been from the start – so why should music education be any different? And, maybe you didn’t get to learn an instrument when you were young so, even better, make your child’s lessons a semi-private lesson and REALLY learn alongside them! Now that’s a pretty fabulous way of setting your child up for success!