The Importance of Consistency in Music Study

“Use It Or Lose It!”

You have made a substantial investment in your child’s education.

Music is kind of like exercising; if you exercise your body regularly, there has to be a benefit in great health. But, just because you exercised for 10 months straight, doesn’t mean you can stop exercising for 2 months and keep your health exactly where it was the last day you worked out!

No, of course not.

What REALLY actually happens is, your health begins to deteriorate slowly. Do that for a number of months, and all of your hard work is reversed.

The same thing happens in MUSIC. Your child (and you!) have worked hard on their instrument/voice all school year, and if they take the summer off from lessons they will LOSE IT because they didn’t USE IT all summer long.

Imagine what would happen to your waistline if you didn’t exercise and ate whatever you wanted for 2 months! (If you are one of those people who can eat cheeseburgers and french fries all the time and never gain a pound, please don’t tell me!)

So, USE IT (your music lessons, that is) and keep the momentum going all summer long so you don’t LOSE IT! Learn new things in a more relaxed setting, when your child has more time on their hands to practice without juggling homework.

Why When you don’t “Use” it, you “Lose” money:

Many parents figure they will “save money” by stopping music lessons for the summer. This is actually quite a big short-sighted decision – because it is not taking into account the “attrition” of skills and techniques, and having to re-learn these things come Fall “Back to School” time. If you have to learn something TWICE you have wasted your money.

Here’s how you “Lose” when you don’t “Use”:

January 2011: Pay $100, learn middle c position, play various songs in middle c position, learn notes and rests

February 2011: Pay $100, continue middle c position, play hands together and apart, learn a contrary motion c scale, reviewing music terminology from 2010.

March 2011: Pay $100 tuition, learn C Major Position, C Major scale, using chord progressions

April 2011: Pay $100 tuition, continue C Major Position, learn F Major Position and scales

May 2011: Pay $100 tuition, continue above, learn transposition in C and F; learn rests values

June 2011 (only 3 weeks): Pay $75 tuition, prepare for recital; continue above

Total: $575

July 2011: OFF (no tuition, no learning)

August 2011: Off (no tuition, no learning)

September 2011: Pay $100 tuition, struggle through songs from June 2011, re-learn C Major position, do hand exercises from 2010 because fingers have lost some dexterity and independence, student is frustrated and losing morale

October 2011: Pay $100 tuition, re-learn F Major position, continue C Major position, practice scales from 2010 and 2011 to get finger strength back to where they were in June 2011. Still frustrated, student wants to quit. Parents are now frustrated, too.

November 2011: Pay $100 tuition, getting ready for Winter Recital, but have to pick a song learned from May 2011 because the student has not been able to learn any new material — they’ve been stuck re-learning material from March-June, 2011.

December 2011 (only 3 weeks): Pay $75 tuition, perform in Winter Recital. Student feeling better about their playing, now back in a consistent practice routine. Play a Winter Recital song that is on the level of where the student was at as of June, 2011. Teacher can now plan to learn new material after winter break, in January 2012.

Total: $375.

However – if you review the above, you’ll see that this is the SAME $375 that was ALREADY PAID between March and June. Nothing new was learned, it was all re-learned. So, this was a waste of $375.

TOTAL PAID FOR 2011: $950

However, $375 was a waste – parents paid TWICE for the same learned material!

Plus: Motivation waned; parents had difficulties and stress at home between lessons; student misses the opportunity to do the Studio CD for the holidays, students’ overall satisfaction is down.

What would have happened if the student took lessons in July and August?

January – June 2011, same as above: $575 total

July, 2011: Pay $75 (took vacation); learned G Major position, scales in G Major. Since the student doesn’t have homework and therefore more disposable time, the student is assigned duets with another student, and some fun, popular pieces which encourages him/her to practice more. Technique soars, motivation increases!

August 2011: Pay $75 (took a week off): Learning transposition in CMajor, FMajor, and GMajor; scales are fluent, finger dexterity and independence have increased, the practice routine has been consistent throughout the whole year, and the student is loving playing duets.

Summer Total: $150

September, 2011: Pay $100; Student is adjusting to the new school year, so the teacher cleverly assigns challenging but fun pieces, gives student finger technique exercises, has student write a song in either C, F, or G as a relaxing project.

October, 2011: Pay $100; Student is already thinking about the Winter Recital, so teacher starts assigning Holiday pieces to work on; since the student’s technique and practice has been consistent, teacher also assigns a Christmas Duet with another consistent, trustworthy student. Start to learn hand over hand techniques, including arpeggios, in C, F, and G.

November, 2011: Pay $100: Continue working on duets and Holiday songs; refining expression marks such as legato, staccato, marcato, sforzando, and dynamics such as crescendos and decrescendos.

December, 2011: Pay $75 (only 3 weeks): Getting ready for Holiday Recitals, work on stage etiquette and audience etiquette, do a fun “recording project” with GarageBand in the teacher’s studio; take part in the “Holiday Studio Make a CD Project” with the other students who are ready — give out the cds as presents to family members.

Fall Total: $375

Total for the Year: $1050

AND: Student’s motivation is consistent and flourishing, back to school time was an easy transition as the student was used to practicing in all year long, stress at home is limited, and student was able to advance substantially in their material. Students’ hands have been improving and advancing in their capabilities. Student has had encouraging and motivating new experiences, such as playing duets, playing new, more advanced material in the Winter Recital, and is SO proud of being a part of the Holiday Studio Make a CD Project! Student practice with little to no effort from the parents. Student identifies himself/herself as a musician to friends at school, and is happy to show off to their class.

Conclusion:
Although in Scenario II, the parent paid $100 more for the yearly tuition, the student has advanced consistently and is that much closer to having “music for a lifetime” instead of just “music for now”. The parent has made an INVESTMENT in the child’s future and the future of their grandchildren – this kid will likely continue in music until fluent enough to play for fun, at parties for friends, and perhaps even make money at this or go to college and study there. This is an enriching, consistent, and educational experience – part of the child’s fabric of life.

In Scenario I, it appears the parent paid $100 less, but in actuality they paid $375 MORE because of the repetition. The child had a rough start to the school year because he/she had to re-create a practice routine at the same time they were adjusting to their new grade level. The parents were stressed at home in between lessons, and even contemplated quitting altogether at a few points. The child does not see himself/herself as a “musician” as it is not consistent in their life. If this continues over a few or more years, the child will likely quite by the time they go to high school, and will lose these skills forever – they did not make “music for a lifetime.”

Bottom Line: Don’t take the summer off!