Planning Ahead for Summer Practice

Although we have barely seen any spring weather yet, summer really is just around the corner, so to speak. Many of us take vacations or, at least, have different schedules during the summer.   With this in mind, it’s time to consider how private music lessons are affected.

Taking private  lessons in guitar, piano, drum, clarinet, saxophone, trumpet, and any other instrument is always beneficial, regardless of how much practice time one can put into it. Although It is often harder for our students to practice when their normal routines are changed, we urge them to find a new practice regimen during summer and holiday times to reinforce the skills they have learned throughout the year.

As parents, it is up to us to encourage our children to keep practicing and not lose the progress they have made throughout the school year. As adult students, we need to remind ourselves that, despite the chaos in our lives, practicing our instruments is important for several reasons. Personally, I find practicing is important to keep improving my skill levels on the instruments that I teach. Additionally, I practice piano to relieve stress and for personal enjoyment. As private music instructors, we also play a role in our students’ practicing.   We have said this before, but holidays and summer breaks are a good time to work on different music pieces that our students are interested in, along with their usual lesson books.

While we understand that students tend to decrease their practicing during summer breaks, it doesn't have to be that way.  Think of ways to increase your child's enthusiasm for playing, which, in part, can come from your encouragement and interest in hearing them play.  In addition, think of  other opportunities for playing, such as performing for family, friends, or even at church.  Ask your child if there are sny songs he or she really wants to learn and convey that to his/her instructor.

Most importantly, keep your children or yourself interacting with the instruments in some way throughout the summer months.  This will bolster any success already achieved as well as set up the progress that will be made when practice times can become more consistent again.  If you are one of the lucky ones who has no problem fitting in practice times for you or your child, keep on doing what you're doing!! 

Practicing during the Holidays

   School breaks and holidays are typically hectic times for families with children.  How do you keep your child interested and motivated to practice their musical instruments during these times, especially when you are busy yourself?  Considering longer times off such as Christmas, spring break, and summer, there are ways to keep your children interested and motivated to continue practicing, even if on a lesser level.  Although our goal is to always make music lessons for learning guitars, piano, drums, saxophone, clarinet, and trumpet fun in Eldersburg, Sykesville, and Carroll County in general, holidays and school breaks allow extra time for students to try something new.
 
   When teaching our students, we try to introduce music during holidays and breaks from school that will keep our students excited and a little challenged.  For example, during the Christmas and Hanukkah holidays, we like to let our students choose a favorite song or two to learn.  Giving students songs that are easier during this time allows them to learn music quickly and enjoy playing current songs for the season.  Many students are motivated to play for friends and relatives.  We definitely encourage this as instrument performance is also a key aspect of learning an instrument, whether it is saxophone, clarinet, guitar, piano, etc.  However, it is also good to give at least one or two more challenging pieces as well.  This gives the student the accomplishment of learning something on their current level or even a little harder.  Combining easier pieces with one or two more challenging pieces motivates students to keep practicing.
 
    Whether the student is a beginner or not, there are certain times during the year that allow time to learn something out of the usual routine.  Giving students some say in which songs they learn also lets them have a little control over their playing choices.

Private Music Lessons - How To Best Expand Your Playing

So you're thinking about learning a musical instrument? Good for you! It's one of the most enriching, fulfilling, expressive and just generally fun things a person can do. Admittedly however, just trying to tackle the process head on can be a seriously daunting task. Learning an instrument is like learning a new language, it's both mentally and physically demanding. You're teaching your brain and body to do things they are not at all used to.
With the correct private music teacher however this task can become much, much more manageable! Having knowledge imparted from somebody who was once in the same position as you can be a great way of settling into learning an instrument. The support and encouragement makes it less of a weighty task to accomplish.
Private teachers also offer the opportunity to learn the theory behind the music. Through the practice and understanding of scales you'll be able to expand your knowledge of your chosen instrument far beyond the physical elements of just playing alone. It's like peaking behind the curtain and glimpsing the inner workings of the machine.
Learning to read notation is an important element of expanding your playing and getting a greater grasp of an instrument, and it's a job made much, much simpler through the presence of a music teacher. If actually playing the instrument is like speaking a new language, notation is learning to read and write it. From there though, there's a limitless amount of music for you to delve head first into.
It's more than just theory, theory, and theory though. Through plenty of practice playing and with a little help from your music teacher, you'll understand the instrument by ear and how it fits together with other instruments. This skill opens up the option of playing with other musicians! And as music is an incredibly social experience, it's what playing is all about.

Saxophone accessories

Most saxophones come with minimal or very basic accessories. When a students start on the saxophone, they will need certain supplies, such as several reeds, a neck strap, and some kind of cleaning cloth. Most saxes come with a simple nylon neck strap, a swab-type cleaner to dry out extra moisture (spit) in the instrument, and a mouth piece cover. To make playing the saxophone most comfortable and enjoyable, I recommend a padded neck strap such as the one by Neotech (add link or photo here???). These are much more comfortable on a young student's neck than one without padding. I have seen this make a huge difference in a child's playing, because he/she is more comfortable and can focus on learning vs. complaining about a sore neck! Another important saxophone accessory is any method of cleaning out moisture after playing. Most saxes come with a basic swab-type cleaner that has a string with a weight at the end that you drop into the bell of the sax and then pull through the neck. This works fine; however, an easier method and more effective one, in my opinion, is the pad saver. These collect moisture from pads and tone holes and extend the life of the pads, therefore saving money. They are made of micro-fiber material that will not shed, shrink, or bleed and can be stored inside or outside of instrument. (add link or photo here???) A last important accessory that usually comes with the instrument is the mouthpiece cover. These are usually plastic and protect the reed as well as the mouthpiece from any damage while not in use. All of these accessories are found online at various sites or at a decent music store.

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I have played music for over 25 years in bands, churches and other venues. I enjoy teaching students of all ages with lessons geared just for you. Didn't we get you connected? If not, blame us on not showing you earlier the following magic buttons:

 

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Sykesville, MD 21784
 

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