It's almost fall - a perfect time to start a new project. How many times have you said, "I would really love to learn to play the piano (or the trumpet, the guitar or learn to sing)"? There are many ways to pick up a musical instrument or learn how to sing. You could watch YouTube clips or buy instructional videos or find a method course online. You could also find a private music instructor and take lessons. So now you may ask, "Why take private music lessons?"
The Power of Music
There are numerous national studies about the value of music in a person's life. Some of these studies have proven amazing things like:
- College music majors typically have higher reading scores than all other majors including English, math, biology and chemistry majors
- Grade school and high school students who participate in their school bands or orchestras are proven to have the lowest levels of drug use including alcohol and tobacco in their lifetimes than any other major group in society
- Because the study of music utilizes great analytical skills, students who take music lessons in high school show significant improvements in math scores compared to those students who do not study music
Besides the academic and analytical benefits, music also affects humans on a deep emotional level.
- 90% of teenagers and adults who play instruments say that music brings their family together
- When one hears music that they respond to emotionally, there are physiological changes in the body which result in a feeling of joy and contentment and lessen the effects of sadness and depression
But I don't have to list studies to prove to you that music has an enormous impact on our day-to-day lives. You turn on the radio and hear a song that reminds you of your first love. You go to a symphony concert and as the orchestra crests to the climax of a piece, you start to tear up without knowing why. You had a day full of stress and you turn on your mp3 player to your favorite artist or song and after a few minutes, you've forgotten why your day was so stressful.
Music is powerful. And making music can be one of the most profound experiences you've ever had.
What is Involved in the Study of Music
When you decide to learn an instrument or learn how to sing, there are many methods of going about it. If you have always wanted to learn to play "The Entertainer" on the piano, you could find an online self-teaching course just to be able to plunk out the notes. You might be able to recognize the tune when you are finished but it probably will not have the finesse that a professional pianist would give to it. If you want to learn how to sing, you may think that just learning the words and melody of the song is what is required, and while that is an important aspect, making it sound powerful or beautiful or controlled requires work and study.
When you learn an instrument (voice included) you need to learn the technique of playing that instrument. That includes understanding the following:
The mechanics of the instrument
- How to put the instrument together (a clarinet or bassoon, etc.)
- How to hold the instrument or place your fingers on the instrument
- How to create a sound with the instrument (proper breathing for singers or wind or brass instruments, applying a bow to the stringed instruments, etc.)
The technique of playing the instrument
- How to sustain a sound and play a series of pitches which becomes a melody
- How to balance coordination (i.e. playing the piano with both hands simultaneously)
- How to use your body to support the instrument which, among other things, helps build stamina
The mechanics of reading music
- Understanding the written musical language (staves and notes) which creates the music that we hear - melodically and rhythmically
- Understanding how to interpret the markings that the composer wrote to indicate how he/she wanted the music to be played (how fast or slow, how loud or soft, how smooth or detached, etc.)
And there's more! Language study (if you are a singer), rudiments, scales, sight-reading, ear training, and the list goes on. And while you can learn the fundamentals on your own, you will always get much more from working with a private music teacher.
The Advantages of Private Music Lessons
When you work with a private music teacher you get the personalized one-on-one instruction that is so important. You meet them usually once a week for 30 minutes or up to an hour and for the rest of the week you are expected to practice on your own. Besides teaching you all of the important aspects of learning your instrument described above, your teacher will provide:
- Hands on instruction - they can demonstrate for you and allow you see, hear and feel the proper way to use your instrument
- Instant feedback - while you can learn fundamentals from a book or video, there is no one there to correct you or help you when you aren't doing something correctly - or better yet, give you accolades when you are doing something correctly - that is something a private teacher can do
- Personalized training - they will choose the exercises and repertoire that is appropriate for you at whatever level you are so that you can feel good about your abilities and progress
- Goal setting - together you will set realistic goals that match your particular needs, desires and abilities
- Constant support and encouragement - when you stumble or get stuck or feel like you are doing everything wrong, your private teacher will be there to support you and guide you to the next level
But that's not all! A private music teacher can offer you opportunities to showcase your new skills by including you in concerts that they organize. If you have aspirations to become a professional musician, a private teacher can guide you to the right schools to further your music study. If you want to get out and perform professionally, a private teacher might be able to open some doors for you through their connections.
While it is true that taking private lessons is more expensive than an online course or watching YouTube, the advantages far outweigh the expense. There is nothing like having the support of someone who can track your progress and celebrate your success.
How to Find a Private Teacher
The next step is to find a private music teacher. There are many ways to do this that are beyond the scope of this article. But once you find the the right teacher for you, you are on your way to one having one of the most meaningful experiences of your life!
Happy Music Making!
Tori Leumas on July 07, 2015:
I love my private piano lessons I get at college! I also give private piano lessons during the summer. Music lessons is a great way to expand learning because it uses your whole brain. Great hub!