Importance of Review

The importance of review is basic to all learning strategies. You will find review (or practice) listed as a key element in most education and teaching strategies, and it is no less important in teaching/learning music.

So, when the music teacher asks your child to review a piece for another week, or to practice a piece again for the next week, it doesn’t necessarily mean that your child did not play the piece well.

Let’s look at some of the reasons your music teacher might have for asking your child to practice a piece for another week.

Reasons for Review

First of all, perhaps your child didn’t practice the piece well enough during the previous week to learn it. Maybe there were just too many errors that needed to be corrected. Not being judgmental here; that happens. Maybe the child didn’t understand the instructions or new concepts. Maybe your child was sick half the week and couldn’t practice much. Or maybe there were a dozen extra things happening during this week and there just was not enough time to practice. That happens sometimes. (As long as it isn’t every week!)

Maybe it was just a harder piece that takes longer to master. It’s not the end of the world to practice a piece for a second week. In fact, as your child’s music gets harder, it will eventually take much longer than a week to master a piece! I remember working on a piece in high school for a year. And I didn’t even like the piece. Of course, by the time I had learned the piece enough to play it well I had to grudgingly admit that I did like it but was not interested in playing it any longer!

Sometimes a teacher will ask a student to play a piece for another week to reinforce some previously learned concepts. Perhaps the music contains a new technique which is important for the student to be very comfortable with. The technique may be something used in music all the time, so it is important for your student to be well-prepared for that technique in the future.

Also, reviewing a piece of music allows your child to advance his musicianship skills. When first learning a piece, your child’s attention is probably focused more on the notes, the rhythm, the articulation and phrasing. After those things are all learned the student is more easily able to think about making music with the piece. Make it sing. Make the melody shine through. Pay more attention to dynamics and phrasing. Listen to what the music is trying to say. Learning those skills is just as important as the notes and rhythm. But it might take an extra week (or more) to accomplish all that.

Review can also be a great confidence booster. Going back and playing a piece that has already been learned can remind your student how much they enjoy playing. Review can do that – give them a chance to just play something that sound nice without all the effort involved in learning new music.

Another reason for review could be that the music teacher is using a previously-learned piece to teach a new concept. Maybe the teacher is teaching transposition skills. By using music your child has already learned, he can focus on the transposing without thinking about new notes or rhythm problems.

Remember, review is a good thing! Review is your child’s friend.

Importance of Review

Review is important for several reasons. First, review strengthens connections among material already learned. Learning about accompanying a melody with selected chords? Reviewing a piece that uses that skill cements the thinking and associated sounds of that skill in the mind of the child.

Also, review helps with recall. If your child is learning new dynamic or tempo markings, review of the piece will give them additional practice remembering those new terms and symbols.

Review also aids in preparing your child for new techniques. Perhaps the music teacher is preparing your child to play scales. On the piano, one of the required techniques for playing scales is being able to pass the thumb under other fingers, or other fingers over the thumb. Being able to do that well, easily, and automatically is critical for playing scales and scale passages in advanced music. So additional review on that skill is important for your child’s future success.

Another benefit of review is that it helps us give more attention to detail. There is more time to focus on the little things. And attention to detail matters in all of life, not just music! Learning to look at the little things and improve the little details will help your child with his schoolwork, with tasks assigned at home, and with his future jobs!

Learning new concepts requires some base of understanding. Each new concept learned increases that base of understanding. Review of those new concepts strengthens and reinforces that base.

Learning is like building a tower. Previously learned material is the base of the tower. Each reviewed concept reinforces the base. Each new concept learned adds to the total tower.

How to Encourage your Child to Review Music

First, make sure your child knows exactly why she is reviewing a piece. Can she give you the reason? Review will not be helpful if she does not know a reason for the review. If she doesn’t know, if the reason is not written in her assignments, see if you can get a good reason from the teacher.

Also, have your child record himself playing the music right after the lesson. Have him listen to the recording and make sure he hears the reason for the review. Then, record him again at the end of the week, and listen for improvement. Did he accomplish what the teacher was looking for?

Another idea is to have him perform the piece for you, or for grandparents, at the end of the week. Performance often brings out the best of us – we tend to play differently in a performance than we do just in practice. A planned performance might prompt your child to really concentrate on what needed to improve.

Don’t let your child be discouraged by review. Help him to see how it will make him a better musician. It will even help him to become a better person!

The Importance of Reveiw

Realistic Expectations

Dear Parents, please have realistic expectations about your child and his musical abilities. Let’s face it, most of our children are not musical geniuses or child prodigies. Sure, some may have greater talents or abilities than others. Some may have a greater drive or passion for music than others. But that doesn’t mean that they are destined from birth to be the greatest in the world!

Parents, Please have realistic expectations about music lessons!

Realistic Expectations:

Expect them to be THEIR best, not THE best.

Expect your child to be diligent in their efforts, to work to the best of their abilities. Also, expect them to make progress, to improve. I have told my own children repeatedly, to just expect that someone will always be better than they are. Even the greatest of musicians must face up to that. They may be the greatest today, but what about next year? New talent is always surfacing, there is always new competition.

Don’t pressure your child so much that she loses her desire and love of the music.

The amount of stress a professional musician deals with is incredible – will I stay on top of the musical world? Will I be able to make it? Can I deal with another world tour? How do I handle the next series of auditions, or competitions? Performance anxiety is a real thing among professional musicians. Many of them are on medications to help them deal with the stress of their lives. Many studies and articles give evidence to the stress and performance anxiety faced by professional musicians. Here is just a sample:  Musicians and Performance-Enhancing Drugs    Musicians and depression    Drug of choice for professional and pre-professional musicians   Is this really what you want to push your child into?

Don’t sacrifice your child’s love of music to your desires of perfection and a professional music career. Go into music lessons with realistic expectations. Maybe your child will show great ability and become the next world star. Or maybe not – maybe he will just enjoy learning and playing music as a hobby. Be okay with either. Let your child make that decision – don’t force him into it!

So what should you expect your child to get from their music lessons? Here is a list that should make any parent happy.

  • Discipline, patience, perseverance
  • Improved physical skills – coordination, fine motor skills
  • Sense of responsibility
  • Improved self-esteem
  • Greater creative self-expression
  • Improved academic skills
  • Exposure to history and different cultures
  • Better listening skills
  • Improved memory
  • Enhanced social skills
  • Most of all – pleasure, joy, and a sense of accomplishment

If you see even some of these results of music lesson in your child, I think you can say that the time and money invested in music lessons were worth it! These are qualities we all want to see in our children. These are definitely realistic expectations.

Music Lesson Etiquette

Etiquette refers to conduct and behavior that is proper for a given situation. Music lesson etiquette is correct behavior or conduct relating to the music lesson. Usually, proper etiquette is a show of respect for other people, their time, and their property. Let’s see how this relates to your music lessons.

Music Lesson Etiquette

Be prompt.

Be on time, even a bit early, for your child’s lesson. You are paying for a certain amount of your teacher’s time – be there so your child can get the most out of every lesson. Do not expect the teacher to teach five or ten minutes later just because you got the five or ten minutes late. Most likely the teacher has another student waiting right after your child is finished. I understand that sometimes traffic is horrible, or something happens that is completely out of your control. In that case, give your teacher a call or text and let her know the situation.

Be sure your child has all his materials with him (music and instrument).

Please have your child come prepared to his lesson. The teacher’s job is more difficult if your child shows up for lessons without his music or instrument. A good teacher will be able to adjust, but you should not put that pressure on the teacher, especially if the forgotten music is habitual. It is not fair to either the teacher or the child.

Don’t monopolize the music teacher’s time.

Sure, you want to have a conversation with the teacher, but if you talk to her for fifteen minutes, then your child only gets half a lesson. The child is cheated out of half her lesson, and the teacher will be frustrated because she is unable to accomplish her goals for the lesson time. Instead, ask her when she is available to talk, or if she has time to talk before or after the lesson. Respect the teaching time.

Don’t expect the teacher to adjust her schedule to yours.

You chose a particular time for your child’s music lesson. Don’t expect the teacher to keep rearranging his schedule to fit all your other activities. Most teachers will understand emergencies, or illness, but they are not required to change their schedule to fit around soccer practice or last-minute school projects.

Respect the teacher’s space.

Whether your music teacher teaches in a studio or in her own home, you are entering her space for a lesson. The teacher has a designated area for waiting parents and students, designated restrooms for your use. Stay in the designated areas! Respect the space – keep it clean, leave muddy shoes by the door, keep feet off the furniture. Show common courtesy!

If you must bring other children with you, keep them under control and quiet.

I understand that you may have no choice but to bring your other children to music lessons with you. Maybe they are waiting for the next lesson, maybe no one is at home to stay with them. Fine – but keep them quiet and content. Make sure they have some quiet activities to do. Keep them in the designated waiting area. If they just cannot sit still or keep relatively quiet, take them outside. Maybe there will be days when you will just have to wait in the car. Or go to the park, or the play place at McDonald’s. Your music teacher cannot concentrate on your child’s lesson when he is wondering if his studio will be in one piece when your child’s lesson is finished.

Respect others who are waiting.

Be courteous to others. If someone is waiting for their lesson, don’t expect the teacher to spend time holding a lengthy conversation with you. Make space for others to sit down while they are waiting – consolidate your other kids and all your stuff. Be kind – don’t talk disrespectfully about other students or the teacher.

Pick your student up on time after the lesson.

Your music teacher is not your babysitter. When the allotted lesson time is over, be there to pick up your child. The music teacher is not responsible for watching your child after the lesson is over – she is supposed to be concentrating on teaching her next student.

Don’t bring your student to lessons when he is obviously sick.

This should be obvious, but I will mention it anyhow. Why bring your child’s germs to infect the teacher and anyone else who is there? How does that show respect to anyone? If you know your child is not feeling well, don’t bring him to music lessons!

Pay your teacher promptly.

We addressed this in a previous post (see here: Pay Your Music Teacher!), but be prompt in your payments. Your teacher is depending on that payment to pay his bills. This is part of his income. Your prompt payments help relieve stress for the teacher. If there is an emergency or unexpected problem, talk to the teacher and see what the two of you can work out.

Music lesson etiquette just boils down to common courtesy and respect for others. Although respect and courtesy are often lacking in today’s world, let’s make an effort and show proper kindness to others in the music lesson setting.

Music teachers, what other things would you add to our list? Post your suggestions in our comments section.