Irvine School Of Music Common Questions & Answers

Attending lessons in a professional environment sets a tone that encourages students to take their music study more seriously. In a school setting, the teacher and student are free from home distractions (TVs in the next room, doorbells, friends, siblings, and pets). In addition, students gain excitement about the music making process when they are surrounded by other people of all ages engaged in learning many different instruments, genres, and at various levels.

Yes. The majority of our teachers have multiple degrees in their field or are professional musicians in their instrument of specialization. Our teachers are experienced professionals and are chosen not only for their qualifications, but for their love of teaching and their ability to relate to the students. Our teachers have spent years developing their skills on their instruments or vocal training and studied with many master teachers.

At the Irvine School of music we make it a priority to connect students with the most appropriate teacher for his or her personality and goals. However, we have multiple music teachers for most instruments, so in the unlikely event a student doesn’t respond well to a particular teacher’s teaching style, he or she can switch to another teacher of the same instrument so his or her studies are uninterrupted. If you think you may get more out of lessons from a teacher with a different teaching style, we have the flexibility to change you from one private instructor to another private instructor.

Whether a student has “begged” to start music lessons on a particular instrument or the parents have decided to enroll their child in lessons, we suggest that the student sticks with their instrument choice for at least two months before switching to another instrument or voice lessons. That way, you will know for sure that the problem is not just the challenging first hurdles of learning a new instrument. If this situation occurs, the parent should contact our office right away so we can give the teacher any feedback that might be helpful and discuss ways to generate more interest. Students may switch to another instrument at any time during the year.

To expect a five year old to practice on his or own is unrealistic. The younger the child, the more essential it is the parent take an active role and interest in lessons and practicing. There is no substitute for praise and interest on the part of the parent. Keep track of their commitment to practicing on a chart with stickers and keep track of their commitment and good behavior with a reward that is meaningful to them. Giving children goals, incentives, tangible gifts, a trip to Disney, a computer game, etc can be an effective motivator. Be practical as well – there are only so many hours in the day, limit the amount of activities so a child is not overwhelmed. It is totally unfair to a child to have them involved in too many activities. Some parents also make verbal contracts with their children, e.g. “stick with piano for one year, and after that, we can try another instrument.”

Yes. Even if you don’t have a musical background you can ask the teacher for advice on how to help your child practice. By simply monitoring that they are doing exercises a certain number of times per day, the student will progress. Many parents occasionally sit in on their child’s music lesson to get an idea of the proper way a song should sound or how the student should be positioning their hands. Showing interest in your child’s lessons and practicing is one of the greatest motivators for your child’s development.

Yes. Families with more than one enrolled student pay a reduced enrollment fee. We pride ourselves in paying our instructors well and do not reduce their pay for multiple family members so we cannot discount the weekly lessons.

Yes – we have an open door policy, but it is strongly discouraged due to the distraction it causes the child. It is your choice when to sit in. The teacher will offer their professional advice on this after they get to know your child, but would appreciate the opportunity to keep the lesson private for the first few lessons to get a feel of what will work best between the two of them.

Yes – this is the Duo lesson format. While we aim to pair students together generally of the same level, it can be useful for students of varying levels to share a lesson. The less advanced student is motivated by observing the more advanced, and a more advanced student often does well with reminders about basic concepts, or can be brought to a deeper understanding of a concept by being asked, “how would you teach this concept?” The teacher will let you know when the students should start with their own private weekly lesson. Or, if you are looking for convenience, you can ask about scheduling both lessons at the same time with different teachers or book them back to back.

At first this might seem like a good idea, but we have tried this in the past and we do not recommend it. (If you miss a lesson, it would be an entire month before you saw your teacher again!) It is important that the teacher checks your progress and corrects your form every week. Also, attending weekly lessons will continue the learning momentum and generate mastering a skill more quickly. It is recommended to take weekly 1/2 hour lessons rather than a full hour if finances are a concern. Also, the tendency becomes to not practice the first week since you have another week before seeing the teacher.

Yes. This gives you the opportunity to meet the teacher and check out what lessons will be like before paying the enrollment fee to the academy. Please call the school office for availability.

Although a real (acoustic) piano is ideal and will be necessary as a student advances, a digital touch sensitive piano with the full 88 keys can suffice in the beginning. Eventually, the difference between the action of a digital vs. acoustic piano and the greater range of tone and dynamics on a real piano will play a huge factor in the proper technical development of a piano student. If you are wary of buying a piano in the beginning, we can recommend reliable vendors for monthly piano rentals at very reasonable costs.

That varies from student to student and really depends on the individual, how much practicing they do, and their age. Playing is a physical and mental skill so it does take repetition and time to improve. Typically, a four or five year old beginning piano can play a simple, recognizable tune within 3 or 4 weeks. Likewise, an adult guitar student, in a few short weeks with regular practice, will improve dramatically. Most students take approximately one year to attain a level of proficiency.

Yes. In the beginning the half hour lesson gives the student a lot to practice at home. In a half hour, they will get enough material to be able to learn well and develop proper technique. As they progress, at the advice of the teacher, they can go to a longer lesson time.

Piano is a great choice for the youngest students, but please inquire regarding your child. Some students are developmentally ready at different ages. A typical age for beginning a private lesson is 5. Some students are ready earlier, and some need to wait a little longer to begin. Violin is also a good choice for the youngest students. By the age of 5 or 6, guitar and drum lessons also become a possibility.

A certain amount of theory is essential to learn any instrument, but is not the focus of private lessons. At the request of the student, theory can be more of a focus but this should only be considered for lessons longer than 30 minutes. For students who are preparing for the theory component of the Certificate of Merit exam or are interested in theory and composition, we highly recommend taking the Integrated Aural Skills and Theory group class.

We recommend setting aside time for music practice at least 5 days out of the week. For more specific guidelines, please refer to the report for parents and students (link).

Yes. We have year-round open enrollment. There is no reason to put it off another day!

We do not rent instruments as we have found it most beneficial for our curriculum to focus on instruction. For students interested in renting pianos, violins, or guitars, we can provide a list of reliable vendors.

The enrollment fee is both an administrative and materials fee. It covers registration processing, overhead, and includes our unique Irvine School Music practice plan.

We currently have special needs students, including those who are slow learners, ADHD and exhibit other types of disabilities; we have had great successes with them, as our very qualified instructors have techniques to work with everyone. When registering for lessons, please inform the school of any special circumstances which you think are important – It is our priority to create the best possible student-teacher relationship. Some of the most talented children can excel beyond their disabilities and truly express themselves through the medium of music. No child should be denied a Music Education.

You are never too old to learn an instrument, and we recommend not starting lessons of any kind with children until at least the age of 4, sometimes older if the child needs to develop more before beginning. Please see (link) for detailed information about choosing the right age to begin.