Frequently Asked Questions
A: Learning how to play any instrument is a slow and lengthy process, the results of which are as magnificent as they are fulfilling and last a lifetime. Parents are urged not to get frustrated if a child is unable to concentrate for long periods of time or does not progress according to their expectations. Patience and support are imperative, and are at the base of the child’s success in all endeavors, particularly his/her Music Education. Bryant’s Music teachers are trained to be patient with, and caring toward, their students, and to maintain their level of interest during the lesson time. Parents are urged to do the same at home for the success of their children. To that end, parents are also urged to remind their children to practice daily what the teachers assign them.
A: Children need their parents to help in establishing regular practicing routines. It is unrealistic to expect a young child to remember to practice without a little nudge from Mom or Dad. To make practicing an enjoyable habit, try these suggestions:
- Set aside the same time every day for piano practice.
- Give the child a timer to use, so that sessions don’t run too short or too long.
- Ask the child to show you the new assignment each week.
- Do not count time spent playing previously learned pieces as practice time.
- Show interest in your child’s music. Ask to hear what your child is working on.
- Never criticize honest effort. Your child should be free to make mistakes without feeling ashamed or embarrassed.
- Offer periodic praise. Let your child know that you are happy with how he or she is improving.
- Before taking on a new extra-curricular activity, determine whether piano practice time will be adversely affected.
- Make sure your child has an adequate instrument on which to practice. Any piano with working keys and pedals will do, but having your piano tuned at regular intervals (about twice/year) will make your child’s music sound better!
- Rewards sometimes help jump-start a sluggish practice! Offer your child a small but special treat at the end of a week if his or her practicing time improves to your satisfaction.
A: Yes. Even if you don’t have any musical experience, you can still rely on the instructor for advice on how to help the child practice. Parents who get involved in their child’s lessons often find it rewarding, and it’s also helpful to the student. Many parents will occasionally sit in on the child’s lesson to get an idea of how the song should be played.
A: The most frequent reason why a child practices fast is to get the practicing over with. Most of the time, students like to play fast. It’s very showy and exciting. One way to avoid this fast playing is to use a metronome. A metronome is a device, either mechanical or electric, used to keep a steady beat for musical practice and playing. A child usually finds this interesting. Another way is to practice clapping the rhythm singing the melody and practicing each hand separately on a slower pace.
A: A variety of method books and supplemental materials are used, depending on the ability and needs of the child. Every child learns differently and requires a curriculum that maximizes his or her inborn learning style. Generally, a child will stay in a published series for about two years. Some of the methods are:
- Preparatory Piano Course, Alfred Publications
- Piano Adventures, Randall and Nancy Faber
- Music in Me, a Piano Method for Young Christian Students, Carol Tornquist
In the second year, the child is introduced to original music by the historical composers, as well as pedagogical literature by current composers. Curriculum will include pieces of each historical period and, for those who desire, repertoire in jazz idioms, sacred music, duets and ensembles.
A: This is a common question. Piano lessons are a discipline that will benefit anyone who is subjected to them, regardless of their natural abilities. In our age of easy distractions, offering immediate gratification, such as sports, television and computers, music lessons are often viewed with frustration and scorn. If your only interest as a parent is keeping your child happy in the short term, music lessons are probably not for you. But if you are interested in what is best for your child, the benefit of music instruction, as a skill for life, is incomparable. Music instruction has been found to correlate with greater discipline and higher academic performance. Furthermore, pianos or keyboards can be found everywhere, and many young people can earn extra income, even as teenagers, by teaching piano or finding an outlet for their skills by performing for senior citizens or other community groups. Even if they never make a career of it, the potential for satisfaction, and usefulness for an entire lifetime, far surpasses many activities that offer short term pleasure but few long-term gains.