DVMTA students and teachers gathered at Mesquite High School Saturday morning for one last rehearsal to get ready for our Cavalcade of Rhythm Duet Ensemble Performance. One last opportunity to get everyone in their places and to put the finishing touches on the pieces that will be showcased. The rain could not dampen the spirits of all these eager students who were anxiously anticipating performing for their families and friends.
DVMTA students came to Cavalcade Rehearsals ready to get their groove on as they prepared for the "Dance Party" Cavalcade of Rhythm Performance. Between February 3rd and Feb. 20th, students attended three rehearsals each to practice with their duet groups. Our DVMTA teachers directed the groups with energy and precision, and of course, a lot of fun. Many thanks to The Music Store for hosting the rehearsals and to the many DVMTA members who volunteered their time to help.
I held group lessons this past week, and after 30% of the students were put in the position of having to choose between piano and sports obligations, I once again began questioning what we as music teachers need to do to keep from frequently ending up as second or third choice in a culture that is making more and more demands on children’s time. It is important to educate our parents that music lessons are unique compared to team sports, art classes, dance classes and other types of enrichment classes. For one thing, practice is inherent in all of the above activities, but music lessons require a time commitment above and beyond the lesson itself. I believe too many parents view music lessons in the same way they view other extra-curricular activities. Although they are told that home practice is essential, I’m afraid it is too easy for parents to allow scheduled obligations to trump time on the piano. So, what’s a teacher to do?
I believe first and foremost, students must be continually preparing for a performance event of some kind. The end product in any activity such as the performance of a play, a soccer game, a dance program, a finished portrait, etc., is what motivates students to attend these activities each week. Parents and students need to realize that a performance for a piano student is every bit as important as a soccer game for a soccer player. In fact, DVMTA was originally established to provide a wide variety of motivating performance opportunities to students. We, as teachers, need to take advantage of these organized events, and make them an integral part of our studios. For example, I require all of my students to participate in both Marathon and Achievement Day every year. I rarely have students fail to participate, because it is an expectation, not a choice, in my studio.
Another thing we need to educate the parents and students on is that time on the piano at home is non-negotiable. We need to encourage parents to schedule a daily practice time that is honored in the same way a scheduled soccer practice or play rehearsal is honored. Help parents understand that even a 5 – 10 minute session on a busy day can have tremendous impact on the student’s overall progress, but staying away from the piano altogether shouldn’t be an option. Parents also need to realize that it is necessary to be involved in their child’s piano time at home up to about middle school age. A parent’s job is to schedule practice time, remind the child to practice (which shouldn’t be viewed as “nagging”), encourage the child to pay attention to assignments, encourage slow practice, have the child demonstrate what he is learning often and of course, be the child’s cheerleader! Because we are not able to attend to a student’s practice time like a football coach or dance instructor, it is vitally important to educate our parents on how to be “pseudo” coaches at home. As the following quote illustrates, studying music is definitely worth the effort! “Music improves cognitive and non-cognitive skills more than twice as much as sports, theater or dance. The study found that kids who take music lessons ‘have better cognitive skills and school grades and are more conscientious, open and ambitious’.” – From Music lessons were the best thing your parents ever did for you, according to science. by Tom Barnes
DVMTA President 2018-2020
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DVMTA members and friends welcomed the New Year with a fabulous meeting on the topic "Teaching Intermediate and Advanced Students." We were privileged to have our own DVMTA members Lori Weidemann and Jessica Heidt share some of their experiences, and discuss ways to keep advancing teens and adults motivated and learning. Thank you Lori and Jessica!
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