Getting the Most Out of Music Lessons

By Becki Laurent

Music lessons are an investment in your child’s future.  Seeing that in print seems so vague and ambiguous but the science is there.  Music lessons make you smarter.  You can read this article:

The neurological effects of a music education are still being studied.  That’s cool but, let’s examine the nitty gritty of everyday life.   The family schedule is busy.  School homework, housework, all the lessons we teach our kids about responsibility and music practice can often leave you feeling overwhelmed and late.   So how to get the most out of your investment?

Practice time is the name of the game!

If you had lessons as a child, your teacher probably said that you should practice for an hour everyday.  Unless you have a musician whose personal goal is Carnegie Hall, please don’t follow this path. (If you have a musician who wants to be a professional musician, talk to your child’s teacher because that path is quite different.)

Depending on the age of the student, the teacher should tell you how long the student should sit for practice.  It’s usually somewhere between 5-30 minutes for the average student. These times do not need to be all in one sitting.  It’s totally ok to do 10 minutes before school, 10 minutes after school or 20 minutes while you are cooking dinner and 10 minutes during homework time. 

 BUT WAIT!  I don’t care how many days you practice (although more is better), I care WHEN you practice.  It’s not the time of day that is important but which days of the week that are important.

“The Curve of Forgetting” 

This is my favorite article:

Basically this talks about the sequence you should follow if you want to retain or memorize information.  For a piano student it should go like this:

Day 1: Lesson with Teacher
Day 1: Review at home
Day 2: Review at home
Day 3-7: Review 3 more times, pick your days.

If you look at the chart you can see how dramatically the curve of forgetting shows by DAY TWO!   For your child to get the most benefit from the lesson, it is super important to have your child review what they played in class before bed the day of class. This is a powerful signal to the brain that the information is important.  Reviewing the following day, helps solidify the importance and helps the muscles retain the training.   Even if there isn’t any more practice for a day or two, your child will remember significantly more than if they skip practice right after their lesson and don’t practice until day 3 or 4.  

Music lessons are so important in the development of a child.  It’s so much more than just making music.  Learning to manage time is important.  Learning to manage their own learning?  That is PRICELESS!