With school starting back up again, so are music lessons, and the Manitoba Registered Music Teachers' Association (MRMTA) is sharing tips on how to find a music instructor that is right for your children.

"It really depends on the teacher, how early they start," says Ann Germani, President of MRMTA when asked if there are age limitations. "A lot of our teachers are listed on the website and you can go to that website and you can find a teacher by the community that you live in, by the discipline that they teach and the instrument. With that, they may have a specialty, so you might see early childhood music education, or you might have university teachers listed. Each teacher has their own specialty."

Germani advises parents that after gathering a list of potential teachers, to seek an interview with them, whether it is by phone or in person. Here are some example questions that Germani suggests asking a potential music instructor:

  • What are the studio policies, concerning health and safety, lesson fees and payments, time of arrival for lessons, and parking availability?
  • Do they teach in a group or separately?
  • What kind of music does the instructor teach, classical, jazz, blues, popular or a mixture?
  • What are their instructional methods, do they prefer to teach university level or do they follow a conservatory exam system?
  • For younger children, are there other elements that are part of their teaching curriculum, such as interactive games or activities that involve a combination of moving, singing and playing other instruments?
  • Are there chances for improvisation and students creating original music?
  • Are there any digital aspects to the lessons, such as learning a music notation software program?

These are only a few examples of what parents and guardians can ask potential music instructors. The MRMTA offers many opportunities for its students with different programs.

"MRMTA has many programs that are available through teachers, and teachers provide many opportunities for their students through recitals, workshops and masterclasses. There are scholarship competitions and composition competitions as well."

 With children always wanting to have fun, it might be difficult to get them to practice at home.

"Usually a teacher will make an assignment, and they often write it down in a notebook so they have a clear idea of what needs to be done and then when they're at home to find a regular time when they can go to the piano, make it easy to go to the piano."

Germani recalls the time she had a student whose parents moved the piano to the basement, resulting in the student not practicing, but once the piano was moved back upstairs the student began to play at home again.

"Yes, there was family around at times, but they had the chance to play their pieces for their family and it was easy then for mom to say 'oh I like that piece,' or for the child to say, 'you should hear this really cool tune."

Germani then says that students practicing around family offers them the chance to practice while sharing with their family what they are learning, which is a great way to get the students to practice and to get the family involved.

"Music is just so therapeutic these days, you can get a lot of joy out of it. The discipline of learning an instrument is so beneficial, it's good for eye-hand coordination. Music makes you smarter. It engages you and the mind, the body, the spirit, and so really the bottom line is it's fun, it's engaging and it's a social thing to do as well. There are just so many benefits"

Germani also notes that hearing music stimulates the mind, music education enhances reasoning skills, playing an instrument strengthens eye-hand coordination and fine motor skills, and teaches discipline, dedication and helps students set and achieve goals.

To register for music lessons through the MRMTA, visit their website.