Saturday, May 23, 2015

It's About TIME! We Value Time and Balance

It's finally summer and you may find yourself with lots of time to fill, or you may find yourself over-scheduled with dozens of summer activities to plan!  As you sit by the pool, take a moment to read about another of our Core Values at Let's Play Music: We value the efficient use of time and maintain a healthy work-life balance.

Time In Class
Marianne Barrowes practices Ear Training using Echo Ed.
You may have noticed that your Let's Play Music teacher squeezes a LOT into the short lesson time: she pre-plans activities to be presented in specific order, and carefully notes of key points she wants to emphasize. She smoothly transitions between games, and without a pause the class is suddenly singing "Let's Say Goodbye!"  

Class time flows swiftly, but you may not realize exactly how carefully timed and balanced the activities are. We value the time you have given to come to class, and we value our time with your child, so we've planned every minute for its best use. Your teacher always takes time before class for a practice run through the lesson to make sure precious minutes won't be lost!

Ann Cue gives each student a chance to sightread
The National Association for Music Education identifies a host of skills comprising complete musicianship, the essence of what we offer at Let's Play Music.  A typical carefully-structured Let's Play Music class touches upon many elements, giving your child a broad education in musicianship.  Here are some skills you'll see, artfully presented within our limited time together each week:


  • Singing, alone and in groups, a varied repertoire of music.
  • Performing on instruments, alone and in ensemble, a varied repertoire.
  • Improvising melodies, accompaniments, and variations.
  • Composing and arranging music.
  • Reading and notating music.
  • Listening to, analyzing, and describing music.
  • Evaluating music and music performances.
  • Understanding music in relation to history and culture.

Repetition is necessary for mastery of these concepts and skills, so semesters are carefully constructed so each skill or activity will be repeated just the number of weeks optimal for learning while allowing for layering complexity into songs and activities as they become familiar. 

You can walk into class and declare, "This is going to be time well spent!"

Time Out of Class
By 3rd year she's practicing 30 minutes
Your commitment to Let's Play Music doesn't end when we sing, "Let's Say Goodbye."  We value your time at home and want YOU to have a healthy balance with other activities, too.  Weekly homework and practicing assignments are thoughtfully planned to help your child retain material and master new skills without becoming overwhelming.

Our commitment to making music practice fun and making music part of daily living is a strategy for helping your family enjoy music while getting the most from your time spent at learning.

During the first year, it's a smart investment of your time to do something each day touching upon music class lesson, so that students don't regress in what they learned at class.  Perhaps you'll chose to do the homework, play a game from class, listen to the CD, or perform a puppet show together.  Practice is informal; the goal is to infuse music into your daily family routine.  These small, happy, moments are time efficient and fun!

At the beginning of the second year, time at the piano takes only 2-5 minutes, and eventually builds to 15-20 minutes per day.  We've found that it's just not worth your time to ask a very beginner to sit at the piano for any longer: you don't achieve more by forcing it.  Once his finger dexterity has caught up to his mental ability and ear-training practice, he'll be more interested in working longer.  Instead, an effective use of home time continues to be puppet shows and playing games from class, including our Alphabet Pieces games.

During third year, a smart time investment continues to be for you to sit with your child during the first few practices each week to make sure he understands the tricky bits.  Practice time grows longer and more intense, so starting on a good note on Monday means you've paid your dues and can listen from the distant kitchen on Friday.

Time Of Our Lives
Many parents ask, "Is it worth my time and effort to learn everything my child is learning?" By the end of second year, and definitely in third year, that will probably require some practice time of your own at the piano. 

I tell my clients, "Congratulations! You've won a wonderful scholarship! Even though you are only paying for lessons for your child, we have granted you a scholarship to have music lessons for FREE!"  It's a wonderful gift, so be sure to think carefully before turning it down.  You have already invested the time in attending class with your child, and you already sit with her for at least a few of her practices each week.  Your teacher sends emails that explain the theory and logic behind exercises (which are not often shared with the students up front) and she's available to explain it again if you need extra help.  
Parents in Katie Wilson's studio have invested the time to come to class with their children.
You've already put in 75% percent of the commitment; this is the sweetest opportunity you're going to get to finally learn to play AND it will give you a chance to bond with your child over music.  Ask HER to show you how to play a tricky part, and then play a duet together!

Nevertheless, it is strongly recommended that you invest the time to master the second year material.  These skills will be invaluable as you help during home practice.  If you fall a little behind during third year, we understand: you need some life balance!
After three years of Let's Play Music, you and your child will have amassed hundreds of hours of memories spent enjoying class together, working at a new skill together, smiling, laughing, and bonding.  Yes, your child will have become a musician, and she'll have the experience of getting there with you, and that's time well spent.
Time For Our Teachers
The majority of our teachers are mothers with young families to care for, households to run, dinners to prepare and carpools to drive! We want YOU to have a happy, focused, sane teacher when class time begins, and we want HER to be energized by seeing her students each week.  We value her relationships with her children as much as we value and strengthen your relationships with your children. This is why we make great efforts to coach our teachers on balancing work and family life. 

Each year in June, we host a weekend teachers' symposium filled with workshops, planning, and playful time spent with fellow Let's Play Music enthusiasts.  In 2012, our theme was It's About Time; the entire weekend was dedicated to strengthening our teachers by helping them manage their studios alongside their precious family commitments.  

A strong network of connection and support is in place to help teachers efficiently master the workings of a studio and quickly manage business details so they can stay balanced in all aspects life.  If you've been considering using your talent for music and teaching to start a business, Let's Play Music provides a warm and nurturing that cares about YOU and your family.


Thank you for taking the time to learn more about our Core Values.  They define how we operate and who we are as a community.

-Gina Weibel, M.S.
Let's Play Music Teacher

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