Whether you’re taking up a new hobby, pursuing a dream, or taking lessons because your parents are making you, music lessons can be an awesome experience.
But where do you start? Or, how do you get more out of your next lesson? And most importantly… how can you be sure this isn’t a total waste of time?
Welcome to our Guide To Music Lessons, with answers to these and much more.
Click to jump to a section / question:
Let’s dive in:
Are music lessons worth it?
Yes! Okay, fine, we’re completely biased (since we offer them ourselves), but there’s tons of reasons :
Reasons to take music lessons:
- You want to!
- Learning something new is enjoyable
- There’s a song you’ve always wanted to learn to play
- Your parent(s) want you to (sometimes parents do know best…)
- You enjoy having fun and making friends who encourage you to do your best
There’s scientific evidence supporting music’s benefits, as well:
- A Stanford University study “showed that music engages the areas of the brain involved with paying attention, making predictions and updating the event in memory.”
- Musicians have more connected brains than non-musicians, per a study in the Journal of Neuroscience
- From Emory University, “The study confirms that musical activity preserves cognition as we age, by comparing variability in cognitive outcomes of older adults active in musical instrumental and other leisure activities”
There’s even more research you can read here!
Reasons you shouldn’t:
- You’re so crazy-busy that you won’t be able to find time to practice your instrument of choice
That’s it. That’s the list.
Practice is where much of your progress comes from! Even just 15 minutes a day will do wonders (and we’ve seen it can be more impactful than 2 hours every few days anyway.)
Three questions to ask if you should take music lessons:
Can I invest the time / money? Let’s start with the money part: You can rent instruments instead of buying them! That does provide a reasonable option to get started, but if you want to own what you play, we have plenty of options in-store and make it a point to have very reasonable prices.
Time is where students often run into challenges – finding time to practice can be tough. But if you can spend even an hour a week practicing in addition to attending your regular lesson, you’ll see progress.
Why do I want to do this? There’s lots of great reasons, but knowing what motivates you will keep you going – and help your instructor know how to tailor their teaching to help you enjoy it even more.
What instrument should I learn? More on this below!
Marks of a good music instructor
Here’s a few things you’ll want to look for:
Experience. How long have they been playing the instrument you want to learn / improve at? What is their performance history – and do they perform regularly now?
Knowledge / Ability To Explain. Ask them your questions! Not only will you get answers you’ve been looking for, but you’ll also understand the depth of the instructor’s knowledge – and their ability to explain it in ways you understand.
Demeanor. You should be able to meet with the instructor before committing to lessons. Do you feel comfortable with them?
Curiosity. What’s something new your instructor has learned? Are they exploring new ways of teaching / learning?
Scheduling flexibility. What happens if something comes up and you can’t make your lesson? Ask them how that’s handled!
That’s not to say a person with a few years’ experience can’t be effective, or somebody who hasn’t performed in a decade isn’t a great teacher. In fact, we also focus on an instructor’s values such as integrity and punctuality when evaluating who we allow to teach to our students!
We have found these qualities to combine into the most enjoyable (and effective) learning experience for our students, and our instructors are actively working on their craft even while teaching it to others!
Are online music lessons cheaper?
As everyone has gone more digital with their learning and communication, online lessons have become far more popular in our industry. Lessons may be cheaper online (though we’re priced quite competitively), but there are some downsides to online learning:
- It’s much harder to learn proper fundamentals through a screen. Getting the instrument just right with your grip / positioning or setting your feet well to reach the right pedals isn’t nearly as easy when it’s online!
- Real-time feedback isn’t quite the same. Audio (and video!) quality can easily fall off during a lesson, making it more difficult to play in tandem or get pinpoint feedback to improve.
And besides … who wants to stare at a screen for one more thing in their day?
What’s the best age to begin learning music?
That depends – if you’re a parent asking how young a child can be to start taking lessons, we recommend no younger than 5 years old. We’ve found younger children can struggle to stay focused.
However, if you’re asking because you’re wondering if you’re “too old” to start … the answer is: There isn’t one!
Easiest musical instruments to learn to play:
Want an easy pro-vs-con list? Click here to read the image in full size!
Your aptitude and willingness to practice are the main drivers of success, but if you’re looking for an easier instrument in terms of a beginner’s learning curve, we recommend:
- Bass guitar
However, what instrument is most rewarding? Well, that depends on what you want to learn! (Click the
What instrument should I learn first?
Weigh the pros / cons based on three criteria:
- What interests you the most?
- Is an instrument expensive to purchase / rent? How much does that matter for your budget?
- And, how easy is it to maintain? (Do parts need to be replaced often? Is it difficult to clean? etc.)
Don’t force yourself into something! Music should be fun, something that often gets lost in the pursuit of a different goal.
If you’re having fun, you’ll find it much easier to progress towards your goals.
Now, if you’re asking what a good starting instrument would be for someone new in the world of music, guitar, piano, and violin are excellent starting points.
Pros and Cons:
Not everyone knows everything about the many options you have available. We get it!
So to help you, we pulled this together (get a PDF with graphics here):
|Banjo||Amazing for bluegrass and country styles.||Often limited repertoire compared to other instruments.|
|Cello||Very flexible, wide range of styles.||Quite large. $$ price point. Requires finesse.|
|Clarinet||Small, easy to grasp fundamentals, $ price point.||Not as flexible as some other options.|
|Drums||They’re drums. ‘Nough said.||Need lots of space. Quite loud. Can be expensive.|
|Guitar||Works with any style of music. Can pick up some basics quickly.||Can be large. Advanced ones are expensive. Easy to pickup basics, but tough to master.|
|Horn||Iconic, versatile, multiple types.||Loud, can be hard to find a good place to practice. Requires strong air flow.|
|Mandolin||Flexible on use. Quite small.||Limited to specific styles of music.|
|Piano / Keyboard||Wide range of music and styles to play.||Large instrument. Can be expensive.|
|Saxophone||Most people know it immediately. Iconic. Lends itself to different styles.||Not great for larger groups (i.e. orchestra). Good ones aren’t cheap.|
|Trumpet||A front-and-center kind of instrument that often shines.||Loud. Fairly technical and nuanced. Requires strong air flow.|
|Ukulele||It’s a ukulele! Affordable, easy to handle.||People assume you can play “Over The Rainbow“.|
|Violin||Iconic, used in most music styles.||More delicate instrument that requires some finesse.|
Common myths about music lessons:
We’ve been doing this a while. Here’s our answers to things people believe that simply aren’t true.
You have to know how to read music. Not a required prerequisite! You’ll pick it up as you go (and it’s way easier than it sounds).
The same goes for technical terms. Tempo, key, staccato … those are just three terms you might hear in the music world.
As you invest more in yourself and spend more time with your preferred instrument, you’ll naturally pick up terms, music, etc. you need to know to be successful – and your instructor will help you every step of the way!
Practice is boring / not worth it. Practice is usually when you have the most growth. It doesn’t matter if you’re trying to become a professional or are doing it as a hobby!
And if it’s something you enjoy, spending time practicing isn’t dull at all!
Music is a waste of time and money. We totally understand (and relate!) that everyone has choices to make. We’re always thankful for students who choose to invest in themselves with us!
But as seen above, the benefits are numerous!
The cheapest version of my instrument is fine. You may not need a top-of-the-line model, but there’s absolutely advantages to having something better than the cheapest version:
Music is much more in tune and consistent for higher-quality instruments.
Cheaper parts creates a cheaper experience. We understand everyone has a budget (so do we!), and have plenty of options in-stock to choose from. But if you’re looking elsewhere, we’re still happy to advise you on advantages of a particular model.
How to get the most out of your next lesson
We asked our instructors – here’s some tips!
Practice. If you’re detecting a theme in this guide … you’re right!
You won’t see the progress you’re hoping for without it. Have ways to keep yourself accountable – such as tracking the time you practice during the week, setting reminders in your phone, or having a friend ask if you’ve practiced.
One idea is to keep a log of what you practice. Take notes on what you feel comfortable with and any struggles you have so you can let your teacher know!
Ask questions. Don’t know something? Don’t make assumptions!
Students sometimes think how they’re viewing a particular method or song is “silly” and that’s simply not true. Music is art – it can be played in many ways, and what’s most important is that you get the answers you need to keep growing.
Besides, asking questions helps your instructor understand where you need the most help or give clues into how you approach your learning – and that only helps them help you!
Be on time / Communicate well. Sometimes something comes up and you’ll be late or need to reschedule … it happens! Make sure your instructor knows well in advance so they can make arrangements to ensure you get the most out of your next lesson.
Reminder: Your teacher may have another student scheduled right after you, so they might not be able to run long if you’re running late. Try to be on time and if you can’t reschedule, make notes of what questions you have, and ask your instructor what your main focus should be before the next lesson.
Why Young America Music Schools?
- We’re local. Not a franchise, not a national chain.
- We’re affordable for rentals, repairs, and lessons and intentionally keep prices as accessible as possible for as many people as possible. The love of music is worth it!
- Located right next to I-475 on Zebulon Road (convenient to many main areas in Macon!)
- Our instructors are experienced and passionate about teaching