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7 Myths About Music Lessons

1.  Music Lessons Are Hard

One of the biggest misconceptions about music lessons is that it’s going to be hard to learn to play an instrument.  Yes, it does take time and practice to learn, but that’s true of every skill, from learning how to skate, to becoming a good cook.  Learning takes knowledge and dedication, but in reality, isn’t that exactly why people admire a musician’s abilities?  You can’t cram lessons.  Think about dancing: it takes a great deal of physical exertion and co-ordination, but the more you dance the more fit and confident you become, and the better you dance.  To really learn how to play any instrument, it takes equal amounts of practice and persistence, as well as a good teacher.

2.  Music Lessons Are For the Privileged

Music lessons used to be an exclusive hobby for the rich, the privileged or the super talented.  It was a sign of social refinement with no real life value, except maybe to charm your friends at parties!  Now science has begun to show that everyone can benefit from music, and that music has life enhancing powers.  Research is starting to prove that music builds math and reading skills, confidence, and self-discipline; that practicing scales and chords and mastering complex patterns of notes changes the shape of the brain; that children who study music will see their IQ increase faster than those who do not.   Wow!

3.  Only Children Can Learn To Play

Many adults believe that once they’re out of school, they’re too old to listen and to study.  The truth is, no matter what age you are, the pursuit of new knowledge and skills should be a lifelong habit.  As an adult, you have a hectic life, lots of mental clutter, and responsibilities and commitments to family and work, so you always feel pressed for time.  But there are plenty of research studies out there to show the benefits of studying music, both emotional and mental, as it keeps your brain active and improves your small motor skills, even into the retirement years.  Adults are great students because they want to learn, and all music teachers love that “keener” attitude.

4.  I Can Teach Myself

You don’t need a teacher for everything in life, and you can certainly start learning on your own if you have the determination to keep at it.  With the help of the Internet, everyone has access to information, and there are lots of online tutorials. There are also DVD’s and self-help books to learn to play the guitar, sing, or blow the saxophone.  The trouble is, your can’t ask questions, and there’s no one watching you to give you feedback and let you know if you’re doing it right.  In fact, you may become really, really good at doing it wrong.  Besides, it’s human nature to want to connect and get feedback, encouragement, and support, especially when your skill advances beyond the elementary level. A good teacher will help you learn the fundamentals correctly, and help you to avoid bad patterns or habits that may take a long time to unlearn.

 5.  You Need to Be Naturally Talented

There is an ongoing debate about whether giftedness is innate (nature), or developed (nurture), but we have yet to find a universally accepted definition in the academic world of what it means to be gifted, though we’ve all met someone in life who seems to be “exceptional” at a particular skill.  When you take the time to really learn about great masters in any field, from Wayne Gretzsky in hockey or Lang Lang on the piano, you discover that whatever naturally abilities they had, it was further enhanced by hours and hours of dedicated practice in their chosen field.  They may have had an advantage in their youth, but they also had parents who helped them (sometimes unwillingly) to pursue their craft to the highest skill level. Exceptional talent is usually just hard work masquerading as effortless ability.

6.  My Child Will Play If They Like It. I Won’t Force My Child To Practice

You would never say:  “I won’t force my kids to eat healthy, nutritious balanced meals; I only feed them what they like to eat.”  In that scenario, your child would have Jell-O for breakfast and pancakes for dinner every day.  You get the picture. You know that your child can’t make important decisions about their health or their future. In the beginning parent must encourage their child to try to new activities and to learn new skills.  You are the keeper of your child’s future, and your role is to enforce routine and discipline at home is the key to their success in all aspects of their life.

 7.  I Have To Play Classical Music

On some instruments, such as the piano, the Royal Conservatory of Music is the standard program for students.  But you do have options.  It’s a matter of finding the right teacher for whatever goals you have. If you want to pursue Jazz, learn to write songs, or audition for Musical Theatre, then you can find a teacher to help you achieve that.  Ask up front what the teacher’s specialty is, and be realistic about whether it’s a good fit or not.  Some musicians only teach classical repertoire, so don’t expect them to bend to teach your child the latest hit from their favourite boy band.  Find a teacher who’s flexible, but can also explain the benefits of having some structure to the lessons. Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide what is best for your family and to find the best way for your child to get what she/he wants and needs.

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