Understanding the Music Lessons Process

Myth – Music lessons are a painful, stressful process.

Your music lessons can be a negative experience, if you take lessons from someone who is not a true music teacher. However, having said that, it is, in reality, not the music lessons that are at fault. Several elements come into play here. The first element is the teacher.

I firmly believe that genuine music teachers are born not necessarily created through an educational system or grand performance experience. In the educational system, music students are offered two career tracts – performance or education. I’m sure you heard it said, “those who can’t… teach.” Well, in reality those who perform well are not necessarily good teachers. Just because a person finds their way through a path to musical proficiency does not mean that they are capable, or even willing to show others how to get there. One of the biggest components of a musician, especially a talented or trained musician, is their ego. Studies have been done adnauseam pertaining to the musicians’ need to receive positive feedback from others to carry on. Applause, hand shakes, high fives, etc. all support and fuel the often fragile ego of a musician. Why do most musicians perform? Think about it. Some might say it is to express themselves or just to create music, however, in an audience free void many musicians would cease from making music. Whether it is performing in a stadium filled to capacity or YouTube, there is a gratification or a high from performing. The teaching musician on the other hand appears to have a more altruistic approach to music. The feedback that strokes the true music teacher’s ego comes in the form of training someone else to become proficient in music. Sharing the gift of music with a student and then enabling that student to perform or play music well is the ultimate high for the true music teacher. When your students perform or go on to become teachers themselves, the teacher’s “rocking the stadium.” This is not to say that there aren’t plenty of teachers who shouldn’t be teaching or performers who don’t do a great job teaching. The fact is neither of these two career tracts guarantee the production of a true music teacher.

A person who is a true music teacher is someone who has the ability to explain the subject matter in a vast amount of differing styles and ways, “Differentiated Instruction.” For example, it is a known fact that people learn in different ways. Not all people learn from the same train of thought or stimulus. Some people learn from auditory stimulus or simply put… by hearing. Others learn best from seeing or watching and still others by kinesthetics or by doing. A genuine teachers has to be able to discern the student’s learning style and provide the correct action for teaching the student. In addition, a teacher must be able to explain the subject matter in ways which the student can relate to within each one of these three learning styles. The personality traits of a born teacher are a genuine desire to teach for the betterment of the student, the advancement of the craft, the ability to effectively communicate the subject matter, vast problem solving skills, creativity, adaptability, and proficient knowledge.

The second element in the music lesson experience is the student. Many times I wished I could have the power to magically transform a student into a proficient musician without them having to put in the effort and drive to succeed. Unfortunately, rarely does a student succeed without performing the repetitions necessary to be able to play an instrument. Inherent in learning to play music is the need to fine tune muscle memory and fine motor skills which means practice. A student may be able to rely on sheer natural ability to get by, but if you are not one of those gifted with an abundance of natural ability, it won’t be long before practice is the only path to gaining skills. Students should expect practice to be a huge portion of their learning experience. This concept eludes a lot of folks when it comes to music, especially singing. Many people get the wrong impression when they see accomplished musicians perform. They make it look so easy! Rarely do they realize the thousands of hours of practice that went into a particular performance. The blame is partially on the concept of “Show Business.” The idea is to present the slight illusion that a masterful performance doesn’t include struggle and hard work. The artist wants the audience to feel comfortable and relaxed.

The reality is that if you are just starting music lessons, practice is not a part of your life. You have to make room for practicing in your daily life. For kids, this means you have 24hrs. in a day and you cannot take time away from your eating, sleeping, or education. However, there is one area in which practice can fit – free or recreational time. This is the space practice resides in. Do you talk on the phone, play video games, chat with friends, watch TV, surf the internet? This is the time and space in which practice needs to reside. For adults starting music lessons, the responsibilities of life fill in a good deal of time, but as most people know if practice is a priority of sorts, you will find the time.

Now, what happens when you don’t practice? Is there stress? Perhaps a bit. If you do not perform the necessary repetitions to gain skills, then how can you progress in your lessons? Some folks believe that they should not insist that their child practice if they don’t feel like it. Let’s look at that concept for a moment. Does your child do their “chores” on a regular basis without being asked? Do they make their bed every day without being asked? Take out the trash? Do they do their homework without being told? Then why would you expect them to instantaneously have the self-discipline to practice on their own? But music should be fun, right? Yeh, music is great fun, once you understand the dynamics involved. Built into the process of music lessons are the entities of practice, challenge, a very small bit of discomfort, as well as gratification, pride, self-esteem, and great joy. If music lessons do not challenge you, they are failing you.

Please understand that if you only perform those skills which you are comfortable with, you will not progress any further. Every new lesson should bring a new challenge, and that might bring you out of your comfort zone. In sports they say, “No Pain – No Gain.” However, when it comes to learning music, it is often, “No fun – I’m Done.” Both sports and music lessons require muscle memory and fine motor skills or practice, the playing field is the same! Yet, some parents will “force” their child to participate in physical or mental activities on a daily basis which bring about a degree of momentary discomfort. Let’s face it, studying for a test in algebra can easily bring about a level of discomfort and most parents will, “force” their child to do it. In the end, the study of music, above most other pursuits (physical or mental) is scientifically justified to bring about more beneficial aspects than most others. If you understand history, you will recall the importance of music to most successful societies. Music instruction, after all, was the cornerstone of Plato’s training for his elite republican guard. Should we not understand the dynamic principles involved in music lessons and embrace them?

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Edit your videos and create easy home videos. Undertake real time editing for video production and create special effects. Cut and join video files easily. Mix music, videos and photos in a short span of time. Benefit from professional video and audio editor. Use the latest digital video mixer to enhance your experiences of watching and editing videos. As capturing videos can be tricky, we recommend the use of digital mixers. You can purchase the all-in-one multimedia editing suite online. It is the most appropriate tool for budding artists. These mixers allow web streaming and help to create quality video performance. Certain mixers are embedded with HDMI inputs and outputs and USB streaming.

Utility of video mixers
Video mixers are used for concerts, events, education and wedding. The portable nature of the mixers adds to sleek and compact design of the devices. After considering space and size, the video mixers can be installed permanently. Powerful video effects can be created, and a video switcher along with audio embedding proves very useful. It allows you to include copyrighted material in your live production. Understand your requirements before you purchase a video mixer. You can make your choice among trusted brands that are available in the market.

Camcorders can be useful
Among all the electronic devices that are available a camcorder is a popular device. A camcorder is used for high quality video recording. Point of view camcorders are mountable and can be used for hands free recording. Some camcorders do not cost too much. They are easily affordable and are water proof, dust proof and shock proof. Traditional camcorders are moderately priced and can be used for birthdays, vacations and gatherings. It is the perfect device which can be used to record your teenagers play in school or your new born baby’s first steps. Market for action camcorders is fast growing. Built in features like Wi-Fi and slow motion video capture, makes it a popular device among the users.

Aspects of a camcorder
The choice of your camcorder depends on your budget. While preparing the budget it is important to include costs of extra memory and additional batteries. There are several advantages of a camcorder:

• Enhanced video quality
• Separate storage
• Optical image stabilization and zooming
• Improved auto focus

As camcorders have high quality lenses and sensors they produce excellent image quality. The high end models support interchangeable lenses.Benefit from the design of the switcher which supports multiple camera workflows.

Music Education 101

“Can we watch a Stevie Wonder video again, Mom? Can we, can we?”

I love that kid.

And clearly we’re doing something right because she has excellent musical taste! I started the musical indoctrination early. My little girl’s nighty-night mix includes the following:

• Here Comes the Sun – The Beatles
• Your Song – Elton John
• Just the Way You Are – Billy Joel
• My Cherie Amour – Stevie Wonder
• Peaceful, Easy Feeling – The Eagles
• Blessed – Elton John
• Ventura Highway – America
• Is This Love – Bob Marley & The Wailers
• Over My Head – Fleetwood Mac
• You Are the Sunshine of My Life – Stevie Wonder

And that’s only a portion of the list; there are over 20 songs. I’ve been singing many of these songs to Anna at night since she was a newborn, while rocking or dancing her to sleep. We started mostly with classical, and then some jazz – Ella Fitzgerald singing “Cheek to Cheek” and Miles Davis playing “Bye Bye Blackbird” were early favorites. But when our bedtime ritual became longer and longer, I thought some soothing and mellow classic rock/pop songs would be appropriate. Thus, this play list was born.

Just as I can’t imagine a home without books, I can’t imagine a home without music. I feel grateful to my parents for exposing me to a wonderful variety of music at home from an early age – Motown, classical, rock/pop, R&B, country, you name it. Even now I can name a handful of songs that I like in every genre.

My early favorites included The Beatles, Kenny Rogers, Eddie Rabbit, Michael Jackson, The Eagles, etc. My dad would play Beatles songs on the piano and I would be Paul, strumming along lefty (even though I’m not) with my toy guitar. I also loved hearing my mom play the piano (“pee-no,” as Anna would say), which she does for a living, and found myself listening to a lot of classical music as a young child. Chopin was, and still is, my favorite classical composer.

But we took things one step further. My mom had a set of Time Life records (yes, records, I’m that old) that were sort of a survey of classical music and they came with a booklet with short biographies of each composer. I was fascinated by them and read them all as a young child. Nerdy? Yes, but in a good way. I learned a lot and cultivated a love of all sorts of music.

Anna is curious too. She has recently started asking who sings these songs that we listen to all the time. She recognizes them if she hears them on the radio. To date, Stevie Wonder is, hands down, her favorite. She LOVES “My Cherie Amour” and now sings along with me at night.

But she’s impressed me by going one step further – we usually look up animals with my iPad at night (and sometimes favorite cartoon characters too), but the other night, she wanted to see a video of Stevie Wonder. So we did some searching on You Tube and found some awesome live performances, and one Sesame Street appearance with Grover.

“He has on sunglasses!” she exclaimed. And I explained why, and she was appropriately impressed that this man who can’t see the piano he plays is so incredibly talented. Then Anna said she wanted to see him and his other friend with the sunglasses, and pointed to a video duet of Stevie and Ray Charles. She loved it. How cool is that?

The other day on the way home from day care, Anna asked if Stevie Wonder was a stranger (since we’ve been talking about that lately). I told her that since we haven’t met him, I guess he was, but I doubted we would ever meet him because he’s famous. But I also told her I assume that he’s a nice guy. Because I’ve instructed her to ask me before talking to any strangers, she said, “Can I talk to him?”

I laughed. I replied, “Honey, if you ever actually meet Stevie Wonder, of course you can talk to him. Because I’ll be right there with you!”

I love it that Anna is following in my footsteps and showing an early, sincere interest in music – the songs, the artists themselves, everything. Music education is so important. For some reason I still don’t understand, unlike sports programs, music and art programs generally tend to find themselves on the chopping block before anything else when it comes to school budget cuts. That is a travesty.

Part of being a well-rounded person is having a breadth of interests and knowledge. Music evokes emotion like nothing else and it brings people together. I remember seeing a sign in the choir room as a child that read, “Music is the language of the soul.” It really is.

So regardless of what your school does when it comes to the arts, teach your kids about music at home. It’s fun, it’s a great way to spend time together, and it can make an impression on your child that lasts a lifetime.