How long should our private music or dance lessons be?

The appropriate length for private instrument, voice, acting and dance lessons vary according to the age and level of the individual student. With few exceptions, the rule of thumb for choosing the length of lesson is:

  • 30 minutes for elementary school students*
  • 45 minutes for middle school students
  • 45-60 minutes for high school and adult students

* There is a 45-minute minimum for all violin, viola and cello students over the age of five.

That being said, we have a number of very young musicians and dancers at TRC who are extremely comfortable with 60-minute lessons, and many of our students take more than one lesson per week. Our admissions director and our instructors are always available to help determine the most advantageous lesson length for both beginners and more advanced students.

At what age should our child begin music or dance lessons?

We truly believe that instilling a love of music in your child should begin at birth, which is why our Early Childhood Music classes begin with newborns and continues through the first grade! Pre-ballet classes begin at age three. Many of our younger students begin piano or violin lessons or start ballet classes as early as age five or six. We offer private instruction on all other instruments, voice and acting to children eight years or older.

Are parents or caregivers in the studio during Early Childhood music or dance classes?

Our Family Music for Babies and Toddlers programs are designed as “adult and child” classes, and adults join their children during the last portion of our Cycle of Seasons program to share music. Music Makers, Twinkling Stars and Ballet Bunnies attend class without adults in the studio – however, we ask all parents and caregivers of students under the age of five to remain in the waiting area outside of your child’s music and dance classes until the class ends.

Should we be in the studio during our child’s private music lessons?

We ask that the parent or caregiver who is most likely to provide help at home remain in the studio during all lessons for our youngest students. This helps to ensure that the children practice according to instructions and avoid developing bad habits. Your child’s instructor will help you determine when your child is ready to take his or her lessons without an adult in the studio. (Please also keep in mind that we prefer not to have siblings or friends sit in on lessons. If you have other children with you, please provide them with homework or activities that will keep them occupied in the lobby or at our homework stations.)

Do we need to have an instrument to practice on at home?

All of our student-musicians must have their own instruments, beginning on the day of their very first lesson, in order to practice the skills they’ve learned in their lessons. In fact, with the exception of piano and percussion, students are required to bring their instruments to each lesson. Most instruments are available for either rent or purchase at your local music store. (Many of our piano students purchase a full-size, touch sensitive, electronic keyboard with which to begin practicing piano at home, which is fine for the first six months or so – and can always be used later on for travel or for use when visiting friends and family – but we strongly recommend practicing on an acoustic piano after the first year.)

How often should a student practice at home?

Daily practice (yes, daily means every day) is the “tried and true” system for success! Your instructor will be able to suggest an appropriate length of time for each day’s practice. With today’s busy family life, this can sometimes be a daunting commitment. Ask your teacher for a short practice routine to tide you or your child over on those days when a full practice is just not possible.

How important is it that we participate in recitals?

We always encourage, but don’t insist, that students participate in our recitals. Recitals are wonderful motivators for focused practice, and the benefits cannot be understated. Most students find the recital experience exhilarating, and the smiles and satisfaction post-performance are really the most wonderful reward.

How important is it that we continue to take lessons over the summer?

Summer is the only time we permit our Fall and Spring semester students to enroll on a “per-diem” basis in order to fit as many lessons as possible into their summer plans. We strongly recommend taking summer lessons, even if it’s just a lesson or two that fit in between summer camps and family vacations. Music is like language, and taking ten weeks off from speaking music will set back progress by months, and make it difficult to retrieve those hard-earned gains. Alternatively, like great athletes, you make yourself in the off-season: Summer is a great time to invest in improving those skills that might take too much time during the school year, and will make your young musicians shine in September.