FAQ and Resources
Frequently Asked Questions
How will I know when I have found an excellent teacher?
Finding a teacher can be a daunting task, particularly if you do not have a musical background. Consider approaching finding a teacher the way you would choose a doctor. If you have a headache, you probably would not go to a podiatrist. Likewise, finding a teacher who truly specializes in the instrument your child will be studying is crucial to your child’s success in music. Take a look at the teacher’s credentials—performance history, teaching history, and schooling are all essential considerations in evaluating a teacher’s ability to give your child the best possible music foundation. Ask yourself the following:
Why doesn’t NJAOM offer in-home lessons? Our faculty schedules are arranged such that we can see one student right after the previous student. Travel time would not allow us to teach as many students. In addition, giving children the ability to go to a destination for music allows them to work in a quiet, focused environment that sets the tone for their learning and gives them the chance to play outside the home. This is highly beneficial preparation for performances, etc.
GROUP INSTRUCTION TRACK
PRIVATE INSTRUCTION TRACK
Why do I need to attend an information session?
Our program is intended for serious students and families willing to make a commitment to practicing and participation in our program classes. The information session ensures that each family will have a chance to learn about our program and ask questions prior to committing to a full term with us.
What do you do at the information session?
At each information session, you will have the opportunity to meet one of our directors, learn more about our programs and expectations, understand the progression of a music student, and hear about opportunities to become involved in our Parent Committee. You will also have the chance to ask questions about NJAOM.
Should I bring my child to the information session?
We strongly prefer that you do not bring your child to the information session. The session is intended for parents to be able to focus on our director’s introduction to our program and to openly discuss questions you may have. This is best done in an adult environment without children present.
My child is a beginner. Can I have a trial lesson with a teacher?
We do not offer trial lessons, simply because a brief encounter with a teacher on a single occasion is not a useful measure to determine the child’s interest or desire to play or work with a given teacher. It takes weeks of steady, patient work to begin to see progress and playing ability. Because of this, we instead request that you attend a scheduled observation of a current NJAOM student’s lesson to get a better sense of a typical lesson.
My child has been playing piano for 4 years. Is she guaranteed a spot in your studio?
We would love to be able to accept every student into our program. However, because we have limited spots available, your child will have the opportunity to audition for and be evaluated by our faculty to determine whether we will be able to accommodate your student.
Can I choose the teacher we study with?
Yes and no. You may express interest in or preference for studies with a specific teacher, but NJAOM reserves the right to make the final decision about placement, depending upon availability, scheduling, and ability.
How should I decide which instrument to start my child on?
Which instrument does your child gravitate toward? Does your child show a clear preference for a certain instrument? Make sure to share different kinds of music and different instrumental performances with your child (YouTube can be a great resource). Observe and listen to your child’s comments about each experience. What does he/she seem to enjoy most? Ultimately, any solid musical education is going to give your child a wonderful launching point for any future musical endeavors, so don’t be afraid to make a choice. We recommend sticking with that choice for a minimum of one year to allow for development, but after that point, switching or adding another instrument is always possible.
What is the time commitment once we enroll in private lessons at NJAOM?
We expect our students to practice daily. Students under the age of about 12 should have practice support from a parent daily. Beginner students should expect to practice about 10-20 minutes per day, while more advanced students should practice 30-45 minutes per day, and high-level advanced students should practice several hours per day. A daily routine for practicing is helpful and necessary in order to excel in music.
NJAOM’s private lessons cost more than lessons with my neighborhood teacher. Why?
Our faculty have both the educational background and performance experience necessary to develop the “whole” musician. We have been training for most of our lives in music and have the ability to take students from beginner through pre-professional level. We also provide performance class and ensemble experience for our students, so our program is both detail-oriented and broad enough to provide significant exposure to a wide variety of performance-based experiences for our students.
What is Performance Class?
Performance Class is an opportunity for students playing the same instrument at roughly the same level to interact with each other, hear each other play, and learn to play together. This class occurs once per week and is included in private lesson tuition. It is mandatory and cannot be “opted out.” Performance Class is available for violin, viola, cello, and piano.
Families of budding musicians at NJAOM can benefit from a number of resources to help inform and guide daily practice, perspective on the benefits of music, and much more. Here are some current articles we recommend for parents interested in learning more about the process of becoming a musician and the challenges and rewards therein.
I don’t play an instrument. How can I help my child? Even if you don’t play an instrument, you are crucial to your child’s success in our program. Establish a daily practice routine (same time, same place in your house), take notes at lessons so you can help your child at home, and follow through on encouragement and reward for milestones reached. If you have questions, be sure to ask your teacher during the lesson so you will know what to do at home. Consider yourself your child’s “coach” as you practice together.
The Importance of Parent Involvement Parent involvement serves as a support system for the student. Learning an instrument well is a difficult and complex undertaking that can only be done successfully with long-term persistence and dedication. Parents help provide the encouragement and positive reinforcement when practicing gets tough, a skill being worked on requires days or weeks of attention, or a piece just is not sounding as polished as it could be. Parents are there to provide the “Yes you can,” “Don’t give up,” and “Keep trying until it’s right” messages at home. Allowing a child to give up when faced with a challenge only serves to reinforce an attitude toward taking the path of least resistance and only doing what is easy. The discipline, work ethic, commitment to high standards, and artistry developed from learning an instrument well are benefits that last a lifetime.
When we see a young person achieve great success, such as an Olympic athlete, classical or pop musician, Broadway performer, or TV/film actor, we marvel at their ability and cheer their success and greatness. What we don’t see or perhaps even comprehend is the years of dedicated hard work; hours of practice; participation in countless classes, lessons, rehearsals, competitions, and performances; early mornings; late nights; frustration; failures; joys; and successes that the individual and their family went through. And at the very start of that journey, no one could have predicted a certain outcome, but they began by trying, putting forth their best effort, and making a commitment to their learning and development.
ADDITIONAL READINGMake-Up Lessons from an Economist’s Point of View
Caring for a String Instrument
Purchasing a String Instrument
Practicing with your Child
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