A student who does not have the luxury of long hours of practice available to them can still be successful in learning an instrument to a standard that will allow them to enjoy making music for the rest of their lives if lessons are approached in the right way.
As a piano teacher, I appreciate the fact that different parents and students have different goals when learning a musical instrument.
There is tremendous benefit to be had from taking music lessons as a child even if you know practice time will be limited.
It is of course true that students who are able to practice for longer periods of time will often progress at an accelerated rate however this is not always possible for every student given the hectic schedules that they often have. In addition to understanding the contribution that learning an instrument makes to a students overall general education, which is well documented and I believe essential towards contributing to a holistic approach of a child’s development, the goal of many parents and students is that they would like to "enjoy a lifetime of enjoyment from music making". Reaching the dizzy heights of musical achievement required to study music seriously after they leave school at a good music college or university is not something that many parents and students are interested in doing. For these students I would like to reassure them that it is possible to learn enough during your course of lessons to achieve this goal without requiring long hours of practice.
The key to success for these students is in the approach taken to learning by the teacher. Students who are taught to be self-sufficient musicians will develop the skills required to pursue music on their own after they leave school and will be in a good position to use these skills to continue their enjoyment of playing an instrument throughout their adult life. A consistent approach to learning an instrument throughout their school career will provide students with the skills they need to enjoy a lifetime of music making if lessons are approached in the right way, even if practice time is limited.
As a piano teacher an important teaching strategy I use is that of "guided discovery". This is where a framework is built during the lessons where students are taught important musical concepts and through this work they gain an understanding of these concepts. The student is then assigned the task of "figuring out" other pieces of the musical puzzle that eventually fall in place to complete the bigger picture. A small example of this would be the approach taken to learning musical intervals. For example, rather than present a piece of paper that contains every example of the interval of a 7th and asking the student to learn them I will instead guide the student to understand how the interval is constructed. Through understanding the relationship of the notes to each other the student will quickly know how to differentiate between Major 7th and Dominant 7th intervals. Students will then be able to take this understanding and figure out for themselves what the interval of a Major 7th and Dominant 7th is in all 12 keys. This is guided discovery.
This approach allows students to get into the habit of thinking for themselves and figuring things out for themselves. This is a small example of how the principle of guided discovery can be applied to lessons and become integral to the way in which we work together. Guided discovery, in itself, is just one of the many teaching strategies employed to help students gain self-sufficiency in their learning. If you have any questions or would like to know more about how this approach to teaching can help benefit your own child please contact me to arrange a trial lesson. Trial lessons are free and give us an opportunity to discuss in greater detail your own goals and the best way we can work together to achieve them.