3 Questions to ask yourself before taking music lessons - musiclessonscalifornia.com

3 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Taking Music Lessons

I think everyone should learn how to play an instrument. I also believe that if a student learns to play the piano first they will be able to easily transition to a new instrument in the future. Many time parents sign up their kids for lessons but they haven’t taken in to account everything that goes into learning to play an instrument.

Music teachers that are serious about teaching and wanting to see their students excel are spending a lot of time behind the scenes getting ready for the lessons that your student will be taking.  There are lessons to be planned. Identifying the learning style of your child and adapting the lesson to fit. You music teacher is developing creative ways to encourage your child so they are having fun and enjoying their lesson time. Teachers that have a music studio in their home provide snacks for the after school lessons to give the kids energy and focus.

I personally spend one to three hours a week of “behind the scene” time preparing for each student.

3 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Taking Music Lessons - musiclessonscalifornia.com

Let’s take a look at my three identifiers.

Do you have the time in your schedule for a weekly lesson?

Take a look at your calendar and ask yourself these three questions.

  1. Where will a lesson fit in my schedule?
  2. Do I have the time in my schedule to get the student to the lesson on time?
  3. Do I have time in my schedule for a complete lesson or will I need to cut it short because it will be up against another activity?

Do you have the time in your schedule for daily practice sessions?

Not only do you need time in your schedule for a thirty to sixty minute lesson, you need to have time in your schedule for thirty minute practice sessions each day.

To learn to play an instrument properly a student must practice at least thirty minutes each day. Just like with anything in life that is worth doing, you have to take the time to learn and practice. There is nothing more frustrating for a teacher than to have to continue teaching a piece of music for two to four lessons in a row because a student wouldn’t practice. That is two to four weeks your student is spending on a one piece they could have mastered in two days. That is a waste of time not only for you but for the teacher.

I recently had two students come back to me for a review and extra coaching. These students took lessons from me for years but they didn’t want to practice and they wouldn’t learn music theory. Both students told me that they now see what they missed out on by not practicing like I instructed them to do. They are behind other musicians in their playing abilities who have been studying and playing for the same amount of time. One of them is playing the clarinet and doesn’t have the lung capacity needed to play a challenging piece of music. Practicing every day for thirty minutes would have taken care of that. The other student learned to play piano and guitar. She wouldn’t practice and didn’t want to learn to read music or learn music theory. Now, she doesn’t like it that she is struggling trying to learn new music on her own. Don’t get me wrong. These musicians are good, but they could be so much better if they would have been encouraged to practice at home.

Do you have the time to listen to the music that your student is learning?

On my practice sheets that I send home with my students I have a spot for the parents to sign that they have listened to the student play their assignments. This is a good practice for three good reasons.

  1. You get to hear and see your child perform. You can tell if they need more practice before the next lesson.
  2. Your child will become more comfortable with playing for other people.
  3. This gets you involved in developing your child’s talent. You are telling them that this is important to you. You are showing them that you enjoy listening to them. (As your child develops this talent you will also love watching them play. Seeing their hands move across a keyboard with ease or watching them play a guitar and their fingers flying on the strings, like butter, is impressive.)

3 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Taking Music Lessons - brendamueller.com

If you can say “Yes” to these three questions then you are ready to get signed up for music lessons.

Finger Exercises for Piano and Guitar - musiclessonscalifornia.com

Workouts for Your Fingers

I love working out and building up the muscles in my body. As a musician we need to build up the muscles in our fingers and create muscle memory so we can play smoothly the passages in our music.



I find that Hanon The Virtuoso Pianist is the best for this. If you start out slow and then build up speed moving from one exercise to the other you will fly through the entire book in no time.

Try this first exercise of Hanon The Virtuoso Pianist. If you like it you should learn the entire book. You will be glad you did. Hanon Exercise #1




If you want to play like “butter” on the guitar I recommend Hanon Power Workouts for Guitar. This is a great book with the tabs to make it easier for you if you can’t read the music. You will get your fingers whipped into shape by playing these daily.

Try a Hanon exercise now: Hanon Guitar

I highly recommend these books for all pianists and all guitarists. All of my students had to learn these exercises.

Action Step: Do you have a favorite method book for exercising your fingers? Please leave your comment below so we can check it out.

4 Types of Breathing: Which is Best for Singing? - musiclessonscalifornia.com

Types of Breathing

Which type is the best for singing?

Clavicular Breathing

  • Shallow breathing
  • Upper part of lungs fills up
  • Creates tension and affects sound production (strained or breathy voice)

Chest Breathing

  • Rib-cage expands in all directions
  • Potential problems:
    • abdomen is too rigid
    • rib cage is overextended

Abdominal Breathing

  • Abdomen expands
  • Abdominal movement is overemphasized
  • No movement of rib-cage

Combined Breathing

  • Chest and abdominal breathing combined
  • Rib-cage expands in all directions
  • Diaphragm descends fully
  • Abdomen relaxes during inhalation
  • Abdomen engaged during exhalation
  • Fully controlled breathing