by wind and solar! When you come here for lessons you can be sure that we
are doing something about reversing climate change.
Sign Up with Ethical and get $50
Get On Our Event List
MUSIC LESSONS -
THE BEST INVESTMENT
Kids' schedules today are so much more intense and hectic then back when
adults over 35 were growing up, before home computers, ATMs, cell phones,
cable and direct TV. There are more choices, more activities and schedules to balance,
more pressure to achieve, and less down time.
Though parents recognize the value of music lessons, it's often one of the
first things to "go" when students resist practicing. It's a shame,
because of the investment in an instrument, lesson tuition, and
initial high hopes and excitement of taking lessons. Practice, even
for the self-motivated student, requires a "schedule" involving a regular
Unfortunately, what can happen once the initial "flush" of
piano lessons wears off, is the student loses interest. Sometimes a
child wants to move on to another musical instrument--which can also go by the wayside
for the same reason. Parents DO need to encourage, and even require,
the same focus and discipline as homework or sports, for successful music
Learning music isn't "entertainment" and,
particularly for older students, does NOT offer the same instant
gratification as say, a video game. It's fun
and fulfilling, but, like anything, someone who is good at something makes
it look easy!
Let's use sports as an example.
A pet peeve of music teachers is that sports
schedules take priority over music, often requiring five or more practices a
week, or the student isn't allowed to compete. However, without this
discipline and focus, the student won't develop the necessary skills TO
compete. Gratification is found in the process of developing the
Fact is, learning music requires
the same discipline as a sport does. Music is physical, requiring
coordination, and repetitive practice for developing muscle memory and
technique with the ADDED BENEFIT OF
DEVELOPING NEURAL PATHWAYS
that lead to higher skill in both mathematics and language arts. (
Note: It's the rare "prodigy" who develops the skills to
perform advanced classical music within the first years of piano study.
And the degree of discipline required can lead to an unbalanced life and
actually "kill" the child's joy of making music.)
I'm understanding, but disappointed at the same time, when a student stops
lessons because a sport has taken over his/her schedule and free time.
Sometimes it's a Start/Stop cycle, which most music teachers have come
to accept. Momentum is lost, and eventually, the student doesn't
return to lessons.
The thought that "you can always
go back to music when you're older" helps justify this, but, in reality,
the best time to learn music is childhood, while the mind and body are
developing, and the habits are formed for life. Students who start in
the early grades and who remain consistent with lessons and practice, will
enjoy the gratification of playing and performing advanced music by the time
they are in high school. Plus, being a musician gives a student the
edge for being accepted at choice colleges and universities (even if they
aren't planning to study music in college).
Any adult who had music lessons growing
up will agree with the saying, "if you don't use it, you lose it "
when it comes to playing music. How many times have I heard adults say
they wished they'd continued piano as kids, or that they'd even had the
opportunity to take lessons? Fact is, the
older you get, the harder it is to go back or get started.
Though adults benefit and enjoy taking lessons, it's not the same as
learning as a child. It's kind of like learning a foreign language.
Learn a second language as a child, you are bi-lingual and can think in both
languages. Learning a new language as an adult gives you an "accent"
and it's more of an effort to translate and speak a second language.
Keep this in mind. Many of the most
brilliant minds in science, medicine, mathematics, literature, and business
are people who are also accomplished musicians. Their musical studies as children
enhanced the development of their abilities in other fields.
My vision for my
students is that they become brilliant scientists, teachers, or outstanding
in chosen professions that benefit their communities and the world at large --
AND who continue as talented musicians who have a lifelong love
affair with making and sharing music.
If music lessons enhance a child's intelligence and
ability to excel in life, then it's the best investment parents and families
"My vision for my students is that they
have a lifelong love for making and sharing music, and that their music
education helps them to become brilliant scientists, teachers, and
outstanding in any chosen profession that fulfills them
personally, and benefits their communities and the world at large." Debra Lee
HERE FOR ARTICLE ON RESEARCH THAT SHOWS HOW MUSIC MAKES CHILDREN MORE
INTELLIGENT ... and 7 great
reasons for learning music.
MUSIC PRACTICE ADVICE to live by:
When beginning lessons, commit
to a full year of study and a practice schedule.
2. Treat music practice the same as
homework or sports with a regular schedule for practice time at home.
3. Meet resistance with reward
and praise for practice.
Work with the teacher for a new lesson time during a sports season (or the
summer or other schedule conflicts that may arise) rather than dropping
lessons and starting back later.
If you choose to take a leave of absence,
return within 4-6 weeks.
5. If a teacher offers recitals, maintain lesson and practice
schedules in order to participate, as recitals are an outstanding experience
for building confidence and composure.
When is it time to
one year commitment is recommended.
For many students, there is a "honeymoon" period where they are highly
motivated to practice.
Though everyone is different, the motivation can wane when a student
plateaus and is ready to breakthrough to the next level.
After a one-year commitment, here is a
general guide of knowing when to stop lessons:
1. It's apparent the student doesn't
have a "natural" ability and loses the desire because playing an instrument
doesn't come naturally. Consult with the teacher on this. There
are still benefits to music lessons, even when natural ability is not
student's resistance to practice is beyond any reasoning or encouragement.
If a student doesn't practice, the teacher will know and may
choose to release the student.
3. The student becomes "bored" -- it may be time for a new teacher, or a
new instrument if the student has musical ability. If this is the
case, speak with the teacher about new material that would interest the
student. Give it another month, and if things don't change, move on.
Sometimes when a student's ear surpasses
their music knowledge and technical or coordination abilities, they become
dissatisfied or "bored." This is NOT a reason a quit. If
the same dissatisfaction persists with a new teacher or instrument, there
may be another issue to address.
4. The teenage student has "peaked"
in ability level and no longer has time to commit to practice for further
advancement, because of activities and scholastic responsibilities.
Piano lessons are the foundation for
learning music. Students who have piano lessons generally have more
success with learning new instruments. In college music programs,
piano is REQUIRED.
Millennial Thing Revisited
What the Mayan Calendar Didn't Mean and
THE STORY OF TIME !
"The impulse to art is
a universal attribute of intelligence...and the most enduring human value of
all is the tendency toward artistic expression. Artistic expression is
intrinsic to human intelligence…" Jose Arguelles, anthropologist,
2012 seemed far off at the time I wrote and recorded my debut CD
Millennial Thing, a
collection of 12 original songs, created and recorded with a solid blues backup
band and production team who had the vision to offer up a timeless
roots-rock-Americana feel that will hold up for years without being "dated." It's
also gratifying that the music and message of Millennial
Thing remains relevant. I'm happy for the airplay that earns me royalties, and
feel blessed to have new
fans discovering the music. Thank you!
The inspiration for the CDs title track, and several other songs, was the
ancient Mayan Calendar. Yes, the very one which became a phenomenon
that captured our mass-
pop-culture-imaginations about an "end of the world" prophecy of cataclysmic,
biblical proportions (with the help of a sensationalistic
Hollywood movie among other things). And with "apocalyptic"
tensions mounting in world affairs since the 1940s, and sophisticated
weapons of mass destruction to make it possible (plus added
tensions of economic woes and
unprecedented US political polarity since the Civil War) -- it's no wonder.
It certainly gave pause to consider the unthinkable.
The date 12/21/2012 has
come and gone, and with it the bad jokes. The date actually marked
the end of a cosmological cycle spanning 50,000-some years, or "The End of Time" to the Mayans (they didn't have
TV, which gave them lots of time to watch the stars... though a funny cartoon I saw pictured two ancient Mayans with little hammers and
stone tablets, with one saying something like, "Uh oh, we've run out of
stone. This is really gonna screw someone up someday."). Point being, the end of a time cycle is
not a portending "doomsday." Still, scary stories have
I was introduced to the Mayan Calendar in the mid-1990s
when I was hanging with the hippies (brings to
mind my favorite Dixie Chics song). I delved into a course of study
of these ancient "Galactic Time Keepers" under the tutelage of "Starroot", a beautiful German-born world-folk
musician-artist who started an artists' community in Floyd, VA, near the rural town
outside of Roanoke where I lived at
the time. (One of her "day jobs" was playing the accordion in traditional German
costume at festivals and conventions in the city of Roanoke). She and her husband Sparky
(short for "Starsparks")
were students and personal friends of Jose Arguelles, an anthropologist and
author who decoded the Mayan Calendar (which I understand there's been some
controversy over, but that's another story which I know nothing about).
As of today, I've forgotten most of what I learned about the Mayan Calendar
(it was quite involved), and my fascination with things "Galactic" is satiated by
watching back to back episodes of STAR TREK (I'm a late-bloomer Trekky
- "Make it so, Number One") and STAR TREK movies, other sci-fi series like STARGATE,
FARSCAPE; the movie CONTACT (I've watched at least 10 times); and science shows like reruns of Carl Sagan's COSMOS,
Steven Hawkings' series on the Universe; and, also I confess, UFO documentaries. (If they're on Netflix I've seen them all!)
To me, the "End of Time" marked by the Mayan Calendar on 12/21/2012
(which got misrepresented as the "end of the world")
can be seen as the official start of a new era of human
evolution. A provocative documentary series called, ZEITGEIST (also on Netflix) offers a vision of where we're
headed (and what it is we're "coming out of"), the
vision being a world of peace, equality, advanced technology that makes life
wonderful (like a high speed vacuum line that can take you
across the Atlantic in minutes), warp speed air and space travel,
clean, healthy environment, a world where people are happy and empowered living their
highest potential, with wealth and well-being without
and no religion, too!
What? No money? Imagine!
Yea, I know, but like the song says, "You can say I'm a dreamer, but
I'm not the only one." (John Lennon)
I found the poem/song lyrics in the
next column while
cleaning old files. Written during my Mayan Calendar days, it gives a little history
lesson of THE STORY OF TIME, per Jose Arguelles.
Though my personal cosmology has grown
since the time I wrote it, the lyrics really capture a philosophic essence
of the Mayan Calendar.
So, in the spirit of songwriting, this poem
is dedicated to Visionaries, Galactic Warriors and Peace-Keepers everywhere.
"Blessed are the peace makers for
they will see God." Jesus
THE STORY OF TIME
by Debra Lee
Based on the Mayan Calendar teachings of Jose Argueles
Time was never on our side
because it's running out, you see
We've been hypnotized and mechanized
Locked in apocalyptic history
The people never question
They buy into the lie
that time is money, security, a pension
by punching a clock and counting time
For what was once salvation
has fallen out of grace
a world of mechanized slave nations
TO AN ARTIFICIAL 12-60 TIME OUT OF PLACE
The clock began in Babylon
into Rome, then Pope Gregory
said an hour was 60-minutes
for the rest of eternity
And the money barons liked it
And all the kings agreed
the new clock ensured their righteousness
and solidified their greed
And what was once salvation
has fallen out of grace
a world of mechanized slave nations
TO AN ARTIFICIAL 12-60 TIME OUT OF PLACE
But their clock didn't follow reason
of the biological flow
of the 13 lunar seasons
and the cycle of galactic tones
Instead it bred nationalism
and a war economy
where democracy's an illusion
for what's been called equality
But there were Galactic time keepers
known as the Mayan Race
who were branded as heathens
by the soldiers and the priests
The people of learning were put to death
and the Mayan libraries burned
but the temple stones still hold the glyphs
so that to Galactic time we can return
And the stones will not be silenced
what greed did not erase
and the Earth will rise triumphant
out of artificial 12-60 time out of place
Millennial Thing are on this website!