One of the big reasons people sign up for weekly music lessons is to have regular accountability with someone who is going to keep their learning on track. But if you were to miss the lesson once in a while, would it really matter?
Being on lockdown for the last 40 days (due to the Covid 19 restrictions here in NZ) has given me a little clarity on this and I’ve been seeing the weekly lesson in a new perspective. It has been wonderful being able to carry through with the lessons as expected, even if only via Zoom. We did have a school holiday break in the middle and therefore a break from music lessons too, but that was useful for many adjusting to family life under lockdown. Once the holiday was over, the resumption of music lessons, along with the regularity of practice, gave pupils some normality to their unusual weeks.
(One of Emily’s lockdown Zoom lessons)
Some bored lockdown pupils were very grateful to have some music to focus on, so they did more practice than usual. It was a chance for them to shine, which I would not have seen if it wasn’t for the weekly catch up. It gave me an opportunity to praise the progress, especially important for those who had been making slow progress for a while.
For others, even the short holiday break was too long, such that mistakes could become ingrained due to practice without accountability. Regular lessons are helpful to make sure things are being learned as they should. It can be very discouraging for a young person to have to re-learn something they thought was correct.
It is also discouraging to have a long break at the point at which they are making good progress. This is particularly true of those in the early stages of learning where getting habits established is key to ongoing learning. Getting motivated to revise things already learned but forgotten can be a challenge. If the music skills are established over a shorter period of time, the pupil sees quicker progress and enthusiastically moves on to new material. The sense of achievement simply feeds the whole process and the resulting enjoyment makes the music all the sweeter.
I can speak from experience as to what it is like to have irregular lessons, even if I did have other advantages that balanced that issue in my music learning. My mother was my music teacher, and lessons were sporadic with a lot of the instruction coming from the kitchen while she was doing two things (or more!) at once. Maybe that’s another reason I see the weekly lesson as a hugely valuable way to make progress. Children work well with routines.
I address the challenges we face as parents when teaching our own in my FREE mini course called What does it Take to Teach Your Own Child the Piano. Click on the link to take you to the course if you are interested. https://accentmusicschool.teachable.com/p/what-does-it-take-to-teach-your-child-the-piano
One of the positives coming out of the lockdown is that Zoom lessons may be seen as not only possible but quite normal as a way of teaching a musical instrument. I had offered Zoom lessons at one of my schools for lessons missed, due to the huge number of school activities that often interfered with the regular lesson during school time, but was not often taken up on it. Now I think there may be a bigger uptake of that solution to timetable clashes. I have often seen those pupils suffer in their progress due to these missed lessons and I have been pretty sure that parents have not been aware of how much momentum can be lost when we are catching up on two weeks of practice instead of just the one, especially if it starts to become a habit.
To sum up:
Your child’s weekly music lesson is important. Let’s make the most of what we have learned through having to do Zoom lessons. Although the in-person lessons are still preferable, we can use Zoom again if we need to when we get back to whatever normal is. Whichever method, we need to value that regular lesson and maybe we will have a new appreciation of it.