Music lessons; music teachers' advice.

We know you might have lots of questions about what committing to music lessons might actually involve for both you and your child! We posed a few of the most common questions we have come across to two instrumental music teachers to get their insights and advice.

Trombone teacher, composer and professional trombonist Adrian Taylor (AT) and trumpet player, composer and teacher of brass and curriculum music Kay Charlton (KC) answer some of our frequently asked questions…

Is it time consuming to take music lessons? 

AT: No. A typical music lesson for beginners would be between 20 and 30 minutes. However, these lessons do need to be supported by regular/daily practice sessions of a similar duration in order to make good progress.

KC: The lesson itself might be only 30 minutes, but it is the work you do in between that really counts. Aim to practice regularly and you should make real progress.


What is a good age to start your child with music lessons? 

AT: Depends on the instrument. Children as young as three years old can start learning the piano or keyboard. Children aged five may be able to cope with the recorder or pennywhistle or a small violin but to learn instruments such as the clarinet, flute, oboe or brass instruments its more common to wait until the child is a little older. 

KC: It depends on the child. Starting early is good if children are enthusiastic. Don’t forget the instrument they start on may not be the one they end up playing later on…


How much do music lessons cost? 

AT: Lesson costs vary across the country with prices in London considerably higher than in Birmingham. Sometimes beginners can be taught in small groups to reduce the cost.

KC: It depends where you live, roughly between £20 - £40 per hour.


Where should I go to find an instrumental teacher? 

AT: Lessons may be available through the local music service provider and may even take place in school.

KC: There are lots of agencies online. Don’t forget to try your local Music Education Hub!


Do you have any good tips for what to ask a potential instrumental teacher? 

AT: The ideal teacher will be both an excellent/inspirational teacher and play the same instrument. However an excellent and inspiring teacher on a related instrument (e.g. a trumpet player teaching the euphonium) is better than a less able teacher on the same instrument. Most important is the interaction between teacher and student. 

KC: Ask about their style of teaching, what repertoire they use - classical/jazz? A bit of each? Do they include improvisation? Do they do Grade exams?


What do you learn in a music lesson? 

AT: You will learn far more than just how to make and control sounds on the instrument. Music lessons will also include learning how to read music, developing aural skills, being creative through composition and improvisation, learning about the pieces being played (and perhaps about the composers) and, depending on the piece, children may even learn about history and geography.

KC: Technique, musicality, how to read music, how to practise and how to improve.


How much practice should my child do for music lessons each week? 

AT: Beginners should aim for 20 minutes practice on most days of the week. This will not only enable to student to get better at playing the pieces, but also will build muscle strength. As the student improves this should be increased. A good practice session will start with some warm up exercises (that have been taught in the lessons), time spent on the music set by the teacher to be practised, and concluded with some playing of pieces just for fun. 

KC: 30 mins every day is ideal, more realistically aim for to play at least four times a week.


If I don’t have a musical background how can I help my child with their music lessons? 

AT: Parental support is vital for success. Parents don't need to have knowledge or skills on the instrument, but make a huge difference by being encouraging, praising when it starts to sound good, reminding them to practise, taking them to rehearsals once they can join a group. 

KC: Show an interest, be encouraging, listen to them play, remind them to practise!


Is it possible to learn an instrument without taking private instrumental music lessons? 

AT: Music lessons are important in the early stages in order to develop good technique and not let bad habits become ingrained. Over time students are able to become more independent and reach a point where they can develop their skills without a weekly music lesson.

KC: Schools and Music Education Hubs often offer lessons. Also, don’t forget to make sure your child plays with other people - are there ensembles at school or at a Saturday Music Centre?


What’s the best thing about having music lessons? 

AT: It's great to see the progress made each week as you move through a tutor book or learn a piece. As lessons are usually individual, this may be the only time a child gets this one-on-one attention from a teacher.

KC: Playing music and playing with others!


Your child wants to learn to play trumpet - where do you start?

For more information on instrumental lessons see our music lessons page.