Top Practice Tips

With school back in session, activities in full swing, and the world getting back to some semblance of normal, you and your family are probably getting a bit busy! You’re probably MUCH busier than you have been in quite awhile. 

Between homework, bus schedules, packing lunches, coordinating activities, multiple family members’ schedules and sports, the last thing you want to do is have to be the practice police for music lessons. And your kids have a lot on their mind, and the list of responsibilities they have is long too! Who wants Mom or Dad nagging at them to get one more thing done? And of course, if you keep asking them to practice, there is always the fear that they will resent you and not want to play their instrument or learn music at all! That’s the opposite of what anyone wants.

So, to help with the back-to-school craze and make your life a bit easier, here are some of our favorite tips to help get kids to practice for music lessons. Try one of these, and we hope you’ll hear the sounds of practicing ringing through your home in no time! 

  1. Make it fun! We assign our students “fun songs” as well as songs and activities from technique books so that practicing for music lessons can be fun. Both are important, but if you’re having trouble getting your child to practice, have them start with the fun songs first, then ease into the more tedious parts of the homework for the week.
  2. Make it a family affair! A lot of the time our students will play their family’s favorite songs for them. Tell your child you and your other kids or their grandparents/extended family want to listen to them play- this is great motivation for some students, and also makes music a family affair. (A side note: this does not work if your child is particularly shy!)
  3. Try a reward system- is there a favorite music group that your child wants to see? Tell them if they get a certain number of days of practice in a row, then they can go see that group. Or, if that’s not an option, try other rewards like 20 minutes of screen time, or a new coloring book or toy/activity. 
  4. Start small- ten minutes of practice a day is better than an hour of practice once a week. Consistency is key, so even if all you can get your child to commit to is ten to twenty minutes a day, start there. Once the habit is built up, you can try getting them to play for longer periods of time.

What methods have you found successful in getting your kids to practice their instrument for music lessons? We’d love to hear from you! Contact us or leave a comment to share with other parents!


A Day at Hobson Preschool

The Edge Music Academy team had so much fun meeting the students of Hobson on Sunday morning, May 23. Hobson Cooperative Preschool is a nature and play-based preschool located in Naperville, Illinois. Our head of marketing, Beth Thompson, attended there as a small child, and their teaching philosophy of fostering creativity through play fits well with EMA’s teaching philosophy. We believe that music fosters creativity and critical thinking skills which help set children up for success throughout their lifetime.

Our founder and head instructor, Jason, was delighted to share some ukulele skills with small groups of 2-5 year olds on Sunday morning. The day was warm and overcast, but the kids really brought the sunshine through their positive attitudes! Mr.Jason taught basic ukulele skills such as how to pluck and strum the instrument, and how to hold it properly. Then, the kids learned how to play “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” on open strings, and how to play five chords! 

EMA prides itself on being a part of all communities where we teach and live. We offer group music lessons like this to any interested school or community organization. It’s a great way to build community, meet new people, and work towards our vision of a community that is strengthened through the power of music. 

If you know of any community organizations or schools that might be interested in group lessons on any of the instruments we offer, check out our page on the topic and don’t hesitate to contact us today to set up your group community music lessons!


How to Set Goals for Music Lessons for Kids 

We are almost completely through January, and even though New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day have passed, goals for music lessons for 2021 are at the top of our minds at Edge Music Academy. We’re constantly thinking of how we can improve our business and our music lessons in order to help our students improve, but there is something about the beginning of a new year that gives us a special chance to step back, assess our progress, and focus on the things we want to bring to our music students in the upcoming year.

We talk a lot at Edge Music Academy about how music lessons for kids teach valuable life skills, and it’s true. Students who learn an instrument not only get the joy of making music, they pick up skills that help them to succeed in a wide variety of areas for the rest of their lives.

Setting goals is one of those skills. And it’s not just setting goals, it’s having the discipline to follow through on them. Kids who have good goal-setting skills and the discipline to work hard and achieve them turn into adults who can apply those skills at work, at school, and in their personal relationships. So, in the spirit of starting a new year of music lessons for kids (and adults!) with Edge Music Academy, and to set a clear focus for 2021, we thought we’d share some of our favorite tips when it comes to goal-setting for music lessons.

The first thing to do is to determine what goal you’d like to pursue. It’s important that it is a goal that is meaningful for you to achieve, otherwise your motivation will likely burn out very quickly. Is there a song that is your absolute favorite that you’ve always wanted to play? Maybe this is the year to learn. Is there a special occasion in your life where you want to be able to perform for your loved ones? Or maybe you want to learn a specific technique so you can play a certain style of music. It doesn’t matter exactly what goal you choose to pursue with music lessons, the important thing is that it holds meaning for you and that it is specific.

The part about being specific brings us to a very popular goal setting technique we like to use: S.M.A.R.T. goals. S.M.A.R.T. goals were developed by some guys named George Doran, Arthur Miller and James Cunningham in their article “There’s a S.M.A.R.T. way to write management goals and objectives,” that was published in the 1981 issue of a magazine called Management Review. SMART is an acronym that means the following: 

S-Specific. We already covered a lot of this above. Let’s say you’re taking guitar lessons. You may want to learn a specific riff on a guitar from a certain song. Or, perhaps you’re taking piano lessons and you want to learn how to use the pedals on a keyboard so you can create a sound for your favorite song. Or maybe you’re taking ukulele lessons and want to learn a certain style of picking. These are all specific goals that you will know for sure when you’ve achieved them.

M-Measurable. A measurable goal is one that you’ll know exactly whether you’ve reached it or not. For example, “getting better at guitar lessons” is not a measurable goal, because how do you know when you’re “better?” There’s no way to quantify for sure if you’ve gotten there or not. Make sure that your goal is something you will know with 100% certainty if you’ve reached. For example, to turn the above example into a measurable goal, you could say “I want to be able to play my pentatonic scale at 140 beats per minute.” You’ll know with great certainty whether you’ve reached that goal or not. 

A-Actionable. An actionable goal is one that you have control over whether you reach it or not. For example, if you said, “I want to play with my musical hero”, that’s not necessarily actionable because you don’t have control over whether a rock star wants to play music with you (If you do, let us know, because we want to jam too.) Make sure that you can actually take concrete steps to achieve your goal or you’ll get frustrated- probably over something that isn’t even your fault! (Unless you insulted your favorite rock star and he won’t play with you because of it). 

R-Reasonable. Make sure that your goal is something you can realistically work your way up to. For example, if you are taking guitar lessons, and your goal is to suddenly learn a very difficult song on piano, that might not be realistic for you. Even if you did switch to piano lessons, it wouldn’t be realistic for you to learn the world’s hardest song right away. Make sure that your goal is something that is just outside your current capabilities, but with a little hard work and planning, you could get there. 

T-Time-bound. The final criteria of a “S.M.A.R.T.” goal is to attach a timeline to it. Otherwise, it’s easy to just say, “I’ll do it later”. If you set a timeline for yourself, like “I will learn this technique by April 1” then you are held accountable to that date and if you keep pushing it off, you won’t meet your goal. 

Take a few minutes to set some goals for yourself this week- whether they are for your personal life, school, or music lessons. Then, work on a plan to make it happen! And, don’t forget to tell someone (if it’s a music lesson goal, make sure to tell your teacher) so they can help hold you accountable. Nothing beats the fulfilling feeling of a goal well achieved. 

We’ll cover more on making a plan for your goals in our next blog post in a few weeks! Happy Sunday! 


Music Gives Students (Of All Ages) A Mental Edge!

You’re a good parent. You care deeply about your student’s performance in school, their grades, and their overall future success. You’ve probably heard word that music is good for kids, and that it helps them learn and gives them some sort of competitive advantage. At Edge Music Academy, we firmly believe in the benefits of music and music education on young minds —socially, academically, life skills…you name it!  

In the spirit of back to school, we thought we’d dive into some of the research behind these claims. After all, with e-learning and kids stuck at home, you need every advantage you can get.

Here’s a look at some of the research we found: 

The first thing we found was this USC Study on Children’s Brain Development. Basically, the study took students who learned to play the violin and compared their brain development to that of kids who learned to play soccer or had no after-school activities. They found evidence linking studying music to faster development of the auditory processing system in the brain. (The brain’s ability to process sound). According to the article, “The auditory system is stimulated by music…this system is also engaged in general sound processing that is fundamental to language development, reading skills and successful communication.” 

Music’s effect on the mind is so profound that there are entire college courses dedicated to it- as evidenced in this article about a college course at the University of Central Florida called “Music and the Brain.” Apparently, music is so powerful that people with diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s have positive cognitive outcomes when they listen to music.

Check out the amazing interactive brain map on this page as well! One of the coolest things we learned in this research is that “professional musicians use the occipital cortex, which is the visual cortex, when they listen to music, while laypersons…use the temporal lobe — the auditory and language center. This suggests that [musicians] might visualize a music score when they are listening to music,” according to one of the professors! 

The greatest thing about all of the research on music and the brain is that it shows it’s not just kids who can benefit from listening to and playing music. An article from Johns Hopkins on brain health in adults says that ““There are few things that stimulate the brain the way music does…if you want to keep your brain engaged throughout the aging process, listening to or playing music is a great tool. It provides a total brain workout.” This is good news, as we’re all looking to keep ourselves mentally and physically youthful—we have to keep up somehow! EMA provides lessons to ages 4 and up, and some of our most successful, passionate and long-term students are adults! 

So no matter how smart you think you are, your brain can always benefit from music- whether you’re a student yourself or just an avid fan! Spread the good news by sharing this great proof of just one of the ways that music gives you an EDGE!

Get an Edge

Music Lessons in Naperville:

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