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Half hour music lessons once a week - enough?

(18 Posts)
MrTumblesBavarianFanbase Thu 13-Feb-14 21:29:50

Can I please tap the wisdom on here? DS1 is 6 and has been begging to learn the drums for over a year. He's now had a trial class and the lessons seem (to me, with no frame of reference) good, and he loved it... but almost any nusic lessons where we live (abroad) are eye wateringly expensive, and I am wondering how worth it a half hour lesson a week really is - can he learn much in that time, long term? The teacher has said he will learn to read music - that hadn't even occurred to me with drums (to show my ignorance!)

We will have to sign up for a year after 3 pay-as-you-go trial lessons, which is a big commitment (about 800 euros a year, and he is one of 3 kids - we can afford it, but can't throw that amount into the wind for nothing worth having - that is more than we pay for our average family holiday!)

Any thoughts on the value of half an hour a week, term time only?

ReallyTired Thu 13-Feb-14 21:35:52

A year is a long period to sign up for. In the UK most music teachers allow you to give up with 6 weeks notice.

Ds has 20 minutes a week at £12 a lesson (ie. 33 lessons a year) . He does 20 minutes practice everyday. Your lessons are expensive in comparison. Music lessons are complete and utter waste of time if your child is not prepared to practice every day seven days a week for 20 minutes. If your child does not practice daily then he will make no progress.

SJisontheway Thu 13-Feb-14 21:37:29

I think 30 minutes is pretty standard at that age. Its what my dd (5) does. 1:1 lessons are pretty intense. I'm not sure she'd concentrate for much longer. She also practices every day, and the progress she has made in 6 months is incredible. She can read the music pretty fluently and it's not too unpleasant to listen to her practice any more (violin)

PiratePanda Thu 13-Feb-14 21:43:33

I had 30 min violin lessons once a week from the age of 7 and did no more than 30 mins practice a day. I got into conservatoire at the age of 16 and a full time job in a professional orchestra at 19.

So yes, 30 mins once a week is plenty.

JulieMichelleRobinson Thu 13-Feb-14 22:56:41

30min once a week is plenty, when combined with the most important other factor: regular practice. The practice is vital, though while he's still so young I wouldn't expect more than about 10min a day, and possibly not every day though you should aim for it and put it in the daily schedule, perhaps before or after dinner.

At six, your son probably can't concentrate for more than 30min at a time anyway. I've tried doing longer lessons with adult beginners (violin/piano) and really, even with the concentration span, they need time to go away and consolidate what they've learnt.

I got up to diploma standard on 30min violin lessons, piano lessons went up to 45min after about grade 6. But I put in the practice hours.

RaspberryLemonPavlova Thu 13-Feb-14 23:01:04

Thirty minutes a week is fine, that is all mine have and DC have achieved various grades on various instruments.

My older DC have their lessons at school (state secondary), and they are 25 mins. School has a very good Grade 8 success rate at this.

Obviously you need regular practice as well.

Rooble Thu 13-Feb-14 23:07:03

My DS (6) does 30 min lesson (piano) weekly - plus 10-15 mins practice about 5 days per week. He has made significant progress (IMO) since he started in September.

You need to sit with him to do the practice - remind him what he needs to do and how (teacher writes this down, and mentions key things to me). You also need to force him when he doesn't fancy it (unless you have a fabulously motivated child), or you will be wasting your money on the lessons. I think signing up for a full year is a massive commitment, though could be a good incentive to make him work at it.

MrTumblesBavarianFanbase Fri 14-Feb-14 06:41:32

Thanks everyone

The year contract seems to be standard - we looked into the "official" town music school (sort of council run, is the nearest UK term I can think of) of the nearest large town (which would be heavily subsidised if we lived in the town, but as we live in a rural area outside we rather unfairly would have to pay full fees, so is in the same price range for us) it also has the year contract, and with that one you don't even get to do 3 pay as you go lessons before committing to the year.

We also looked into the only other option, a big private music school which has a good reputation for more standard instruments like piano etc. but I know a mum whose son learned the drums there and she told me the drum teachers are a bit too "cool" and casual, and take cigarette breaks during the lessons! Not keen on that if I'm paying almost €1 per minute!!

So we have ended up with a private music school - just one guy runs it, and only teaches drums, guitar and percussion. He has a proper music studio for teaching and a recording studio, and also does workshops, and his students put on a festival in summer and record a CD at Christmas each year, all of which sound good...

A year is, as you say, such a long time to commit to, which is why I am wobbling about it.

DS had an electonic drum kit (A "professional" one not a toy) for his birthday and about 3 days a week he'll spend a solid hour drumming... but other days he won't touch it. That's prior to any lessons.

I am reluctant to force (rather than remind) him to practice as I absolutely loathed my parents forcing me to practice music when I was a child (but then they also forced me to take lessons, which we are not doing - I was allowed to choose the instrument, but not to choose not to learn an instrument, and the enforced practice made me feel resentful about the whole thing, and I learnt almost nothing, and took no pleasure in it.

My daughter just plays the recorder, which she has been learning for about 18 months initiated herself, even found the teacher via classmates (I hate recorders so she had to persuade me to let her/ pay for her to learn), but we are lucky with that as there is an older lady near her school who teaches partly for pleasure, not as a main source of income, so DD and her friend walk to her house after school once a week and spend an hour there, on a €6 if you turn up, don't pay if you don't basis - friends have told me this is really unusual and we are lucky to have found her - I guess it is the same as a half hour lesson each, except they tend to do bits together for an hour, with a break where she gives them a drink and a snack which she doesn't charge for! The price of "official" music school lessons after that are a shock to the system!

I never make DD practice, just tell her if I notice she hasn't for a few days that if she doesn't practice between lessons I won't be paying for any more lessons, and that is all the motivation she needs - she doesn't practice every day, but probably does half an hour or more about 3 times a week, up in her room, and comes down to play me pieces she's got the hang of! Its all very well doing that with €6 a time pay as you go lessons though...

I will do the 3 pay as you go drum lessons for DS and see if he practices in between I think... The price and the year contract make the decision so hard, but it is very useful to know half an hour is standard lesson length and enough to progress well if there is the motivation.

JulieMichelleRobinson Fri 14-Feb-14 10:11:19

Make sure DS knows that the practise is a requirement of having lessons, and sit with him to do it. He is too young to be able to remember exactly what to practise off his own bat, and there's a difference between practising and messing around on the instrument. I always tell my students that there is time for both.

MrTumblesBavarianFanbase Fri 14-Feb-14 13:44:58

Thanks Julie

Sit with him to do it doesn't fill me with hope, as I also have a very full on toddler (I can sit there - but without the toddler isn't going to happen Monday to Friday, as DH gets home in time for dinner and kids bedtime and not much else), and there is also a lot of homework needing supervision here (half day school, a lot of homework from day 1) which is one reason I don't want to be forcing music practice down their throats too. A condition of DD learning the recorder was that I wouldn't have to listen to her practice until she could play any particular song without me having to cover my ears wink and she has done well with that somewhat reverse psychology motivation smile

He is also complaining that his drum "module" isn't like the acoustic set the music teacher has so he won't be able to practice properly... I am becoming increasingly dubious about this being a wise thing to do with €800...

JulieMichelleRobinson Fri 14-Feb-14 17:14:20

Does he have a digital kit? There are advantages to that - e.g. headphones - that mean he can play without annoying you ;-). Explain that to him, and that he will still be able to do everything properly. It's like having a digital piano vs an acoustic one, or an electric guitar. He should get that.

You don't have to literally sit with him, but you will need to make sure he understands what he has been asked to work on. Maybe talk to him before he practises each time. I give my younger students very clear expectations, but it's probably better if you can at least read the notebook together each time and then he shows you what he has achieved at the end of the practise? That might be realistic with a little one in tow.

Do the next few trial lessons and see if you can get into the habit of practising properly like this at least 3 times a week, even if it's only 5 or 10min. Then let him just make noise the rest of the time.

RaspberryLemonPavlova Fri 14-Feb-14 17:54:41

I seem to remember when my nephew started drumming, he didn't actually use a drum set at first, but a telephone book or similar.

I didn't sit through every practice with my six year old. just kept an eye and checked he knew what he was doing. And he is doing very well and progressed rapidly.

NannyPeach Sat 15-Feb-14 20:19:51

My dcs learn violin - Ds (6) is due to take grade 2 soon, he only has 20 minute lessons. Dd (10) is grade 6 and has 30 min lessons. I think 30 min lessons is pretty standard. I wouldn't want to sign up to lessons for so long though.

MrTumblesBavarianFanbase Sun 16-Feb-14 21:06:31

Yep, we got him the digital kit for his birthday back in September - he loved it and used it loads until his first drum lesson, which was on a 3/4 size proper "traditional" drum set, not digital. His digital kit has all the drums and the cymbals and the pedals too, but it is a "module" which means it is a 60m by 50cm (or so) unit with the drum pads integrated, so it obviously looks totally different and everything is closer together. He is also claiming it doesn't react as sensitively - if he lets the stick bounce twice (which is something he did in the lesson) the response from the kit isn't quick enough... I really think its good enough for a 6 year old!! However if the difference puts im off practising, it puts me off paying through the nose for a year's worth of lessons... hmmm

Happy to set him up to practice, just not going to be able to sit there with him as the toddler interrupting will be far more of a problem than me not supervising - better I keep the toddler out of the way. I already have to resort to TV for the toddler sometimes if homework is proving tricky (I don't usually hover during homework, but my 8 year old has phases of needing me to) so not going to set up more and more stuff I have to strictly supervise 1:1 with 1 child.

I have found a shorter course of 12 lessons done in a group setting, and therefore much cheaper and without the off putting long contract, but infuriatingly they say minimum age 8 - I am going to call and ask if they'll take a 6 year old... problem could be kids start school here at 6/7, so age 8 might be because they require kids to be able to read - DS1 hasn't started school yet, and although we work on reading together when he shows interest he can't read nearly as well as a child who has been to school here for a year or two would be able to (once they start school they push them fast). So if they need to be able to read, they won't accept him.

Thanks for the feedback everyone - I now believe that 30 min lessons are fine, but am still not sure I can/ will commit to the full year contract, which might mean he will have to wait til he's a bit older to do lessons...

Fraxinus Sun 16-Feb-14 21:43:28

If he has to wait for it, it might keep him keen.

BrianTheMole Sun 16-Feb-14 21:46:02

If he practices for three days, but a lot longer, I think thats ok. My dd does that with the piano and shes progressing ok.

goonIcantakeit Sat 22-Feb-14 19:15:12

Hi, I run a primary school orchestra for all sorts of kids and would like to vote for you waiting!

Especially as it's drums. Teaching a drummer to read music is really teaching them to play orchestral percussion. Rock drummers play more from songsheets (if anything).

Lots of playing on the kit would probably be a better "lesson" for him at this age.

I have a talented 8 year old drummer at present whose mother has been advised not to give him lessons until he is 10 because it will make him "stiffen up". Percussion teachers will protest, but the mum is a songwriter who has performed at a very high level and she spoke with quiet authority - plus the drum centre that advised her has a great reputation.

I have an alternative for you - what would really bring him on at this stage is to learn to drum for his sister while she plays tunes.

Artsacademy Thu 27-Feb-14 15:12:39

Message deleted by MNHQ. Here's a link to our Talk Guidelines.

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