An Open Letter for Parents

Why should you participate in private instruction through the MVHS Conservatory?

Dear MVHS Leadership & Music Conservatory for The Arts Parents:

First, we want to thank you for recognizing the importance of musical study, as evidenced by your child's participation. We are writing to share with you some of the ways you can help ensure your child's success in these musical endeavors. If your child is currently playing in an ensemble but has never studied his or her particular instrument with a specialist, I hope you will consider private lessons.

While learning to make music with others is invaluable, private lessons offer the only real way for a child to learn the mechanics of the instrument. As their director, I generally do not have the time or specialized training to be able to teach students to play a specific instrument; rather, my focus is to work on developing the skills necessary for performing in a larger ensemble. I strongly recommend a private teacher and hope you will get your child started taking weekly private lessons.

As parents, you may wish to consider some of the less obvious benefits of private study that do not exclude our child's initial motivations but could be beyond his or her initial grasp. These might include "learning to solve problems independently," "learning to work within timelines to complete projects," "learning to cope with stress," "learning how to get back on the horse after we fall off," "learning how to take pride in an accomplishment," and "learning how to work as a member of a team".

It should be apparent that all of these items listed begin with "learning how to…". This is extremely important. In a private lesson situation, we have the opportunity, as teachers, to work individually and directly with a student, at their own rate of progress, with the process of learning. Private teachers act as a guide to the process of self-discovery through music. If these are not foreign ideas to us, then we should applaud our child's desire to seek lessons with a private teacher and support him or her in that undertaking whole-heartedly. Regular and thoughtful practice is another essential part of musical study. It is best to set up a practice routine and then to follow it as strictly as possible. For example, a half hour session every weeknight just before dinner could be an easy way to develop a routine. Once you establish a routine, try not to break it. Discuss with the teacher how much practice time your child needs. Generally it's a good idea to set a ballpark estimate of practice time, but bear in mind that, ultimately, productivity is more important than minutes.

Finally, expose your family to live classical and jazz music whenever possible. Our community has a professional orchestra and opera company not too far away (Atlanta) as well as several fine groups within drivable distances. Find a concert that features your child's instrument. Hearing a professional player perform live can be a tremendous inspiration to young musicians. Often the experience can help open their eyes to future possibilities as well as motivate them to continue their own study.

Best wishes to you and your child while discovering the enrichment of musical study. On the band website is a list of our current Music Conservatory Instructors but feel free to ask Mr. Owens about other private instructors in our community.


Mr. Owens