Kathy Kucsan, Education Director
How can we determine the value of taking individual lessons on an instrument or voice?
How do we decide whether music lessons are worth the investment of time and money? Worth driving across town or further to spend thirty minutes with a great teacher? Worth the hours of practice time between lessons?
It’s interesting to me how people determine the worth of things – groceries, clothing, trips, books, movies. They’ll pay this much but not a penny more. Spend this many hours but that’s it. Drive a dozen miles but not fifteen. Where is the line and how do we determine what it is? And is it even possible to gauge whether or not investing time, money and energy in music lessons is “worth it”?
(Full disclosure: we’re biased about the topic of music lessons. This is what we do!)
Are music lessons worth the money?
At the Center for Musical Arts, we offer 15, 30, 45 and 60 minute lessons. (The 15-minute lessons are for the youngest students, and we start with a shorter time span to establish a good foundation for growing into standard-length lessons). Most students take 30-minute lessons, which is a good amount of time to work through scales, etudes, and repertoire. Standard 30-minute lessons are $36 (30-minute flex lessons are $40).
How do you know if it’s worth the money? Why not just learn for free on YouTube? (I decided to watch a few piano instruction videos on YouTube. I couldn’t make much sense of what many of them were trying to get across. Disappointing, because once a YouTube video helped me to retrieve a phone that had fallen behind the keyboard of a grand piano. But I digress…)
The magic of music instruction is the interaction between teacher and student.
With in-person instruction, you receive instant feedback, helpful guidance, and skilled teaching.
If you or your child are taking lessons with an agenda in mind – getting better grades, improving IQ, doing better socially, excelling academically, learning languages quickly – well, you can pretty much count on one or more of those things happening. The research is piling up – music supports brain development, cognitive skills, problem-solving skills, and enhances language learning. Learning to read music combined with developing skills on an instrument is proven empirically to be tied to brain development, especially in young children.
Are music lessons worth the investment of time and energy?
Here’s a trade secret: more than teaching your child how to play an instrument, we’re teaching them how to practice, because practicing consistently and well is what actually grows a musician. Skill isn’t acquired at the lesson – a student has to put in the time behind a music stand in order to develop skill proficiency and artistry. Center faculty members are teaching students how to practice: how to use their time, how to focus their energy, how to develop as musicians.
Your teacher is investing time and energy, too.
They understand the practice thing. In order to teach and play professionally, they’ve invested countless (really, literally countless) hours practicing. They continue to practice their instruments every day. This is what makes a real musician.
It’s not possible to explain to a child that investing their time and energy in practicing will pay off down the road. Kids don’t think that way because down the road to them seems like centuries in the future. Staying in the present, growing incrementally, and celebrating successes in each lesson is how to reap the benefits of music study.
Looking back, most students can pinpoint a time when they got it – a moment or a day when they realized how important music was to them. That’s the best return on investment ever. When we save money, it takes a while to grow interest. (Sometimes a long, looong while.) It’s the same thing with investing in yourself or your child as a musician.
It takes some time, and then one day – maybe at a recital or a school concert or an audition – you know it has all been worth it.
The Center for Musical Arts offers music lessons in all instruments and voice, for music students of all ages and abilities!