Practice Tips

Making the Most of Music Lessons

Making the Most of Music Lessons

It should go without saying that one of the most crucial part of a music student’s success is the quality and consistency of their practice at home. So we at The California Conservatory of Music want to be sure to give you all some great practice tips!

There are so many similarities between learning a language and learning music. Numerous studies exist that demonstrate a link between music education and increased verbal skills and an increased ability to learn languages later in life. (Check out this article if interested) When you take the fundamental components that go into language acquisition and apply them to music education, you get some really simple yet powerful strategies for great music practice.  

CONSISTENCY

We all learned our mother tongue by being in an environment where it was spoken and then constantly trying to mimic the sounds we heard in our surrounding. Consistency with respect to practice is no secret - every music teacher everywhere will tell their students to practice piano or guitar or whatever everyday. And you should! The issue of course is time and motivation. Here are a couple ideas to help make this easier:

  1. Try to practice at the same time everyday. Make it a routine. Some students do it before they go to school, some do it after dinner, but the point is to try to help your child develop regularity. To make it a habit

  2. A little goes a long way. When students first start out, 10 minutes can be enough. If you only have 5 minutes, then just play for 5 minutes. The point here is to fight the all or nothing mentality.

  3. Awards work and they help create habits. We have had students getting practice points, awards, and certificates for their hard work for years to great success. Please talk to our office staff or your teacher about our practice challenges to get one started!

LISTEN TO MUSIC

Just like the “mother tongue” idea mentioned above, listening to music consistently will help students develop their vocabulary. When babies start learning a language, the first sounds they hear are called phonemes. There are about 150 that are used in around 6500 languages, and English uses 49. When the brain starts to realize it only needs to recognize combinations of those 49, it starts only focusing on these, which is why its harder to learn languages later in life.

What’s your point?

Younger kids are often only played “baby music” or let’s say, at the risk of sounding pretentious, simple music. This quickly starts to limit their capacity to recognize pitch, harmony and more complicated rhythms. Classical music are great options for students’ ears to take in more complex harmonies, pitch structures and rhythms among other things. If you don’t know what to listen to, just put on a playlist on Spotify or Apple music. You can just let it play it in the background at home and in the car. “Ok Google play some classical music” works too! More advanced students should listen to pieces they are working on to get ideas from mature artists on phrasing and expression. Imagine a writer who didn’t read or a painter who didn’t see! Listen to music people!

The next component that’s super crucial in effective practice and also a part of language acquisition is is the idea of repetition, but we will talk about this more in our next post.

Key Points:

  1. Successful music students practice on a daily basis. Try to make it a habit. Routines and rewards can be super helpful in making this easier!

  2. Listen to classical music - it’s a beautiful treasure and it will help develop your ear!