[Today’s article was written by Gena Mayo and is part of the 31 Days of Music in Our Homeschool Series.]
Have your kids started private music lessons yet? As a homeschool mom and music teacher, private lessons are very important in my family. I have written “4 Tips for Starting Private Music Lessons” which you may read at My Joy-Filled Life. And today I continue with
6 MORE Tips for Starting Private Music Lessons
- Find a homeschooled teen or college student to teach your beginner. We have had 4 of these kinds of teachers for our kids–3 different college students taught beginning piano, drum set, and percussion lessons to several of our kids. And I even employed a 14-year-old girl to start a couple of my other children on piano. The benefits are that these teachers often have more flexibility in their schedule, the college-aged kids can often drive to you house to teach lessons, and they charge less. We had good experiences with all of them. But when your kids get more advanced in their music-playing, I recommend getting a more experienced teacher.
- Search out teachers who will come to your house to teach. When my oldest started violin lessons, we drove to 30 minutes away to the teacher’s house for lessons. It wasn’t a very big deal back then. But when I started having more babies, homeschooling 1st grade and above, and adding more violin students to the mix, it got increasingly difficult to keep up that schedule. I searched for a violin teacher to come to my house to teach and found one! She charges more (for teaching and for travel), but the time saved from me not having to drive and getting to homeschool during the lessons makes it totally worth it.
- Homeschool in the car while others are inside the teacher’s home having lessons. Right now we are doing this while 2 of my older kids take their piano lessons. For 1 1/2 hours I work with the younger kids in the car sitting outside the lady’s house–reading history and science, doing writing lessons, and listening to my kids read to me. It works out nicely.
- Research to see what opportunities exist for private or group music lessons at homeschool co-ops in your area. I know some great teachers around us that teach guitar and recorder at homeschool co-ops. You may even be able to find a group piano class, which can be a much less expensive way to go when starting a new instrument. Maybe your kids don’t really want to do it on their own, but would enjoy it in a group setting. Then, they might just get the spark to continue! If you know a music teacher who is available, ask him or her if they will teach at a homeschool co-op.
- Use Online or Video Music Lessons. My oldest son learned to play many, many songs on guitar by watching YouTube videos. You’d be amazed at how many people offer free lesson there–for all sorts of instruments! But sometimes you get what you pay for and I highly recommend 3 programs for learning piano, drums, and guitar. Look at Hoffman Academy for piano (the lessons are all free, but they charge for materials), HomeSchoolPiano for piano or drums, and Learn and Master Guitar, Drums, and Piano. If you live in an area without a teacher or would like to take lessons more inexpensively, this might be the way to do it! Now, my son takes guitar lessons and he’s flourishing even more. If you can start out with online or video and switch to a live teacher later, do it!
- Don’t let your kids quit too soon, but don’t force them if it isn’t a good fit. We have had both of these situations. I’ve had kids beg me (sometimes for a year or two) to quit taking lessons but we said No. Since I have taken private lessons myself from the time I was 7 through 27, I know that sometimes you reach a new hurdle that you simply have to power through. Once you get past it, the pressure eases up a bit and you enjoy the instrument even more because you’ve gotten better at it. But the hurdles will keep coming. Alternately, you may realize that sometimes a particular instrument is just not a good fit for your child, and you don’t want to make the child or the teacher miserable by forcing it. This happened with my daughter who has dyslexia. She simply couldn’t do the violin like her siblings do. She does quite well with piano, though (with a teacher who understands dyslexia). And my older daughter though she’d like percussion in band, but that was not a good choice for her. She had to stick out the year commitment, but then was allowed to drop it. My oldest son was just allowed to quit violin lessons after 10 years of playing! It was hard for us to let it go, but he has now transferred his interest to guitar. We know that all those years playing violin has helped him become a great guitar player. Pray about the decision and then do what’s best for your child!
Do your kids take private lessons? Or are you struggling with the decision. Leave your questions or suggestions in the comments!
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