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Do we need an instrument at home?
Absolutely- For any of our courses, you will need an instrument for your child to practise on at home.
Ideally, it needs to be at least 4 octaves (49 notes) with full size keys. After a couple of years, or if your child is not a beginner, they will require an instrument with 7 octaves and fully weighted keys (like a real piano!)
If in any doubt, your teacher will be able to assist you in buying an instrument.
It is best to have your instrument in a room where your child can still feel part of the family – not in their bedroom where practice feels like homework or a punishment. If you have a portable keyboard, try to keep it permanently set-up so you do not have to get it out every time you need to use it.
For small children ½ and ¾ size acoustic guitars are available, however if your child can comfortably manage a full size guitar then this will be the better long term investment and will produce a superior sound.
For electric learners there are many affordable complete packages available from Musical Instrument retailers, speak to your teacher for recommendations.
Again you may want to keep this in a regularly used family room so your child can still feel part of the family rather than being sent away to practise.
Both electronic and acoustic drum-kits are available for your child to learn on. Electronic kits have the advantage of allowing the use of headphones for practice, however lower cost kits often feel quite different to play than a ‘real’ drum-kit. If you choose an acoustic kit, be aware that they are a very loud instrument to practise so for the sake of your child’s hearing and your neighbours’ sanity practise mutes are recommended.
A variety of stick shapes and sizes are available, speak to your teacher for advice on a suitable pair for your child.
Does my child need to practise?
Yes! Otherwise, progress will be slower and your child will not enjoy the lessons as much. It is important to understand that a parent is involved in the practice too; younger children need lots of support and encouragement. They are not very good at practising alone. Practice time is also a great opportunity to develop that special relationship with your child.
My child enjoys the lessons, but will not practice?
The worst thing you can do is stress out a child about practising and put them off learning an instrument for good. Read on for practice advice;
How much practice should my child do?
Students will need to try to practise 5-6 times a week.
Beginners should aim for only short practice sessions of 10-15 min.
When preparing for exams, practice sessions of 20-30 min are advisable and as a student progresses they should gradually increase the length of practice sessions.
A little each day is better than a long practice once a week.
How should we go about practising with younger children?
Start a practice session with a song that your child really enjoys. Then play through the less well known songs, three or four times. Try to finish the practice with a favourite song. Also, if your child is learning music with a Backing CD, listen to your CD outside of practice time, e.g. in the car, or playing in the background at home.
How can I help with practising?
Your positive attitude towards practising is very important. Don’t make it too hard for your child; your teacher will guide you. “Crawling before you walk” is really important. Children may begin to resent practice time if it is too hard or pressured. Try to be happy with what your child is doing, and if your child is struggling, speak to your teacher at the next lesson. Your presence and support at practice time will make a huge difference. Children need and thrive on your help and guidance. Encouragement is a great motivator. “That sounds great, Lewis” will develop great self-esteem. Always try to accentuate the positive. Encourage them to play for your family and friends. Practice rewards work very well too, try: stickers, stamps, certificates, a favourite television programme or anything, which you know the child enjoys.
My child is losing interest, what should I do?
There are lots of reasons for children losing interest in music, some are simple and can be easily fixed, while others can be a little more complex. These can be anything from a child’s fear of failure, to the lessons interfering with a child’s playtime with friends or an instrument at home not being appropriate.It’s really important to speak to your teacher, as soon as you notice any declining interest. Many problems can often be resolved or even avoided if you speak with your teacher.
When will we do exams?
Maybe never, this is a choice and is not compulsory. However as a guide students who start at a very young age are generally Grade 1 standard after roughly 2-3 years and older students sometimes a little sooner. What is important is that your child shows steady progress in their playing and grows as a Musician, exams are not necessarily the main priority.
A friend’s child is having lessons elsewhere and is playing more difficult pieces than my child. Why is this?
The main thing you need to remember is that every child is different and learns at a different rate. Learning a musical instrument should never be competitive but thoroughly enjoyable. At Merthyr Music we try to ensure each student learns at a pace that is right for them and learns the skills to be an all round Musician who can play music in various styles and contexts.