4 Ways That Learning Music Makes Your Life Better

4 Ways That Learning Music Makes Your Life Better

This week on the Miistro blog, we’re going back to basics to remind you about the reasons why music lessons are so important. We really think you’re going to love these 4 ways that learning music actually makes your life better!

6 Strategies for Teaching More Music Students This Fall

6 Strategies for Teaching More Music Students This Fall

For those of you whose calendars are looking a little less full than you’d like, it can be tough to know how to fill them. If that’s you, then you’ll find tons of value packed into today’s post.

Supercharge Music Lessons by Optimizing Your Child’s Practice Area

Supercharge Music Lessons by Optimizing Your Child’s Practice Area

We live busy lives, that’s not going to change. What can change is the environment that we set up for our kids to practice their music in. Here are 4 super tactical hacks for your kid’s practice area to help supercharge the time they spend rehearsing.

6 Qualities to Look for in a Music Teacher

6 Qualities to Look for in a Music Teacher

There are a lot of musicians out there but it takes a uniquely talented and disciplined musician to become a music teacher. Lucky for you, we at Miistro pride ourselves in matching you with the perfect music teacher from the get go!

The 5 Building Blocks of Successful Music Practice (For Kids!)

The 5 Building Blocks of Successful Music Practice (For Kids!)

Want Massive Success in Music Lessons?

The Answer is Routine Practice!

You’ve enrolled in music lessons because you know how awesome it is for your youngster to learn music. This is a massive win! But now you’re faced with the weekly dilemmas: Is my kid practicing?

violin kid.jpg

It’s a big one. We’ve all heard stories of the kids who tried piano lessons and quit. Maybe we even lived that story ourselves. But at Miistro, we’re here to equip you to avoid that tragic story, and steer you towards success instead. Sound good? Thought so!

The secret ingredient is ROUTINE. When we build a practice session on a familiar set of building blocks, our student will always know what to expect and they’ll know the targets to hit. And so will you. No shooting in the dark. Only progress, encouragement, and good vibes!

Here are 5 building blocks you can use to make sure that every time your youngster sits down to play, they’re also sitting down to win!

Set a REALISTIC amount of time for music practice

Between homework, chores and good old-fashioned play time, kids have some serious demands on their time. When it comes to practicing music, ages 7 and under can play for 15 minutes. Ages 8 to 10, shoot for 20 minutes. And for kids 11 and up, get them to play for a half hour or more.

And while daily practice is best, give them one day off a week to rest!

Practice at the SAME TIME every day

You know how you feel a little “off” all day if you don’t get that morning coffee or mid-day workout? It helps to know what’s coming, and your young musician is no different. It might take some time to find out when’s best, but find a time of day for practice and stick to it. Try right after school, before dinner, or half way through homework.

One thing though: Avoid late night practicing because your little guy or gal is going to be burnt out from the day.

Practice the parts you DON’T KNOW

It’s fun to be good at something! Parents, that’s why we stick to the same baking recipes and classic video games, right? But your young Mozart won’t improve if she keeps playing the songs she already knows. Pay attention and make sure they start their practice sessions playing the pieces and skills they have yet to learn.

Then let them play the fun stuff at the end as a reward!

Keep a LOG of practice sessions

This is big one. At the end of every practice session, answer 3 questions in a notebook:

  1. What did I feel good about?

  2. What was I bummed out about?

  3. How can I feel better about the bummer thing next time?

Keeping a log does a few things: It teaches your student to think about his or her own progress, it teaches them critical thinking in a major way, and it makes sure that they always go into their next practice session with a solid plan. That’s huge!

Keep it POSITIVE

Practice is hard work! Just like you’re tempted to skip a workout session or awkward family gathering, your young musician isn’t always going to be in the mood to work on his instrument. That’s why it’s crucial to keep the topic of music practice in “the happy zone.” Praise them for working hard on this valuable skill. Ask to hear what they’ve working on, and be patient! If something’s challenging, ask them what about it is challenging. If you notice they’re crushing practice lately, celebrate them with a little treat or hidden note!


These five strategies are going to set your student up for some serious success in music lessons this school year. We know life is busy and you might not always get all of this right. That’s OK. Give yourself some grace and come back to these strategies for a fresh start. Your young musician wants to succeed and you have the power to help them!

Happy practicing!

-Zach & The Miistro Blog Team


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Try an Instrument Day

Try an Instrument Day

Try an Instrument Day is a fun event presented by London Children's Museum and Miistro.com where children of all ages will receive a personalized journey with a music teacher exploring which instrument is their perfect fit!

How to get your child to love practicing!

How to get your child to love practicing!

Learning an instrument is wonderful.

To be able to sit down as a child or adult and play the piano, strum the guitar, or sing a song with confidence is one of life's truly unique joys.

However, once lessons are started, oftentimes the lustre and excitement of learning an instrument can fade.

I've had countless conversations with parents of students about quitting lessons, and as a person who grew up taking piano lessons at a young age (and protesting my way through the first several years), I know what it's like.

So why is practicing so hard?

Practicing the piano (or doing homework or working out or eating healthy) is a perfect object lesson to teach valuable character building skills to your children. However, in my decade plus of teaching piano, I’ve noticed two cycles that apply not only to practicing music but also nearly every aspect of life. And the best part of these two cycles are that it is in your hands to choose one over the other.

Scenario #1: The Negative Practice Cycle

NEGATIVE PRACTICE CYCLE.jpg

 

STEP ONE (The Input) – NO PRACTICE

Step one in both scenarios is the only factor that anyone can directly control.

The negative practice cycle begins it by the student not practicing. He gets distracted by homework, video games, playing outside, and oftentimes genuinely forgets to practice. Because lessons are new, they haven’t had the chance to become a regular part of routine and scheduling, so both parents and students

a) fail to practice enough times between lessons and/or

 b) fail to realize how vitally important practicing is to both success and enjoyment of learning anything.

STEP TWO (The Practical Result) – GETS WORSE

The second step is the only logical result that can come from not practicing. When the student fails to practice, he doesn’t get better. This means that week after week of lessons are spent working on the same concepts, playing the same songs (which quickly become excruciatingly boring), and lessons seem to be a futile exercise in frustration. The student makes frequent mistakes and doesn’t really understand the concepts being taught, and doesn’t really get better after weeks (or months) of lessons. This leads to the third step.

STEP THREE (The Emotional Result) – I HATE THIS!

After weeks or months of spending time and money on lessons with little improvement as a result of minimal or no practice, the student comes to the conclusion that music is no fun. He isn’t good at it, and once the decision to not enjoy something is set, it’s very difficult to reset this. Practicing becomes an obstacle from every other enjoyable thing in life, and all the student sees is the drudgery of having to spend time doing something that he doesn’t enjoy.

This quickly becomes a burden on the parents who want to avoid conflict with practicing. They ask themselves questions such as “Why can’t my child enjoy music lessons like so-and-so?” or “Maybe this just isn’t our child’s ‘thing.’”

Which naturally leads back into the first step: no practicing, which starts the cycle all over again. The student gets on this carousel of not practicing, which means he doesn’t get better, which means he doesn’t enjoy lessons, which means he doesn’t practice, etc.

It can seem like an impossible battle, and in my years of experience, there is only one thing to change that cycle: REVERSE STEP ONE.

Scenario #2: The Positive Practice Cycle

POSITIVE PRACTICE CYCLE.jpg

STEP ONE (The Input) – PRACTICE!

As I mentioned before, the first step is the only one that can anyone can directly control.

Whether you’re on the negative practice cycle or already on the positive practice cycle, the first step in enjoying music and practicing is to actually practice. Take the step, encourage the student, offer a reward, do whatever it takes to get practicing a regular part of your routine. If your child is a beginner, instruct her to practice 10-15 minutes five days per week. In the grand scheme of things, it’s not very much time, but the positive impact not only on musical development but also character/mental/academic development is invaluable. As a result of this regular practice, step two will naturally be…

STEP TWO (The Practical Result) – GETS BETTER

The only way to improve at anything is to work at it. And once practicing regularly becomes a part of routine and scheduling, naturally, your child is going to improve and get better. She is going to quickly learn and understand concepts in her lessons, and she will rapidly move through the pieces she is taught. She will see a noticeable improvement in her playing ability, and she will be encouraged that the regular effort she puts forth will bear positive results.

STEP THREE (The Emotional Result) – I LOVE THIS!

As your child gets better and better and learning music, you’ll notice that she will actually start to enjoy practicing and lessons. It won’t be as hard to convince her to practice, and she’ll get joy out of learning new pieces and being challenged in new ways. As well, because she’s learning more pieces and improving in her skills, she’s able to play music that sounds better and is more impressive. She’ll want to perform in front of friends and family, and she’ll feel more confident about her abilities as a musician.

Of course, you know how this goes, this leads back into Step One. As your child enjoys music more, she will naturally practice more which starts the positive cycle back up all over again.

As with any cycle, once it’s started, it becomes very difficult to slow down or stop.

Once the negative cycle is started, it’s hard to convince any student that liking something actually begins with doing the one thing they’ve already decided they don’t like.

As well, once the positive cycle is started, it’s hard to discourage any student from growing and getting better and eventually doing amazing things with music.

It all starts, however, with practicing.

And this isn’t just for music. The difference between most people who hate math and most people who love math isn’t math itself. It’s spending time doing the homework, which results in understanding, which results in better test results, which results in enjoying math more, which results in wanting to do homework, which results in understanding, etc.

The reason music lessons are oftentimes heralded as this thing that kids sometimes don’t enjoy is simply because it’s oftentimes the first opportunity that children are given to develop the skills of practice and mastery. And because it’s optional (while math at school isn’t), if a family faces a bit of opposition when it comes to practice, it’s often easily dropped in the name of not being a good fit.


In my years of teaching and interacting with people and students of every age, I have heard time and time again the regretful voice of an adult who always says “I wish my parents had never let me quit piano.” And in all the conversations I’ve had over the years with people who studied music through their childhood, I’ve never heard anyone say that they wish their parents had let them quit.

It is our goal at Miistro to give every person to experience the joy of learning music. And that doesn’t just mean playing a Beethoven sonata or being good at a C Major scale. It’s the confidence to work at something and win. It’s the character building activity of prioritizing things that matter over things that are momentarily fun. It’s allowing everyone the opportunity to grow in their mental development, social skills, executive function, academic ability, mental health, community, and other brilliant benefits, all of which are uniquely tied to learning music.

You can do it. Your children can win at music and life. Music isn’t the enemy.

Persevere, encourage, and be encouraged in helping your children build the best life.

Thank you so much for reading!

If you have any questions or ideas for future blog posts, please send me an e-mail at zach@miistro.com or call me at 519 319 7270.

Cheers

-Zach