Frequently Asked Questions
Private Instrumental Lessons
Why should I take classical music lessons?
The ancient Greeks considered Music/Math/Science and Astrology to be related subjects and to represent the most lofty of directions towards which the human mind could direct itself. Modern science has confirmed the impact of listening to and partaking in activities such as classical music as significant assets in the development of higher level brain function, mental health and physical coordination. (It is not uncommon for instance for surgeons to have had a piano background.)
The tools and skill sets derived in learning an instrument from a traditional classical methodology provide a crucial foundation and great asset should one desire to branch out into other styles such as jazz and pop.
In an increasingly desensitized world, activities such as classical music are invaluable towards creating a more well rounded individual. It provides a great forum to practice discipline, patience, hone imagination, and foster a more collegial and nurturing environment with ones fellow human being.
How much time should I dedicate daily towards practice?
When learning an instrument, it is true that you get out it what you put into it, and as such students should be prepared to make a daily committment of at least 6 days during the week. Practice time should be at a mimimum as long as lesson time (ie a 1/2 hour lesson should warrent at least 1/2 hour of daily practice). For students preparing for Grade 9-10 exams, a minimum of two hours is recommended - for ARCT the mimimum time committment should be three hours. At the end of the day it is important to note that the quality of the practice is of utmost importance - practice in and of itself does not make perfect.....rather perfect practice makes perfect.
How important is parental involvement?
As with anything in life, the more interest you take in your child's development, the more fruitful and holistic the outcome. Parents are encourgaed to sit in during lessons, and to supervise practice to the extent they are able. Many times just being there in the room offering words of encouragement can make all the difference!
Do I need a piano/violin to start lessons?
Yes! For beginning students, a digital piano with grand piano action weighted keys capable of dynamic contrast is acceptable in the short term. However, parents should expect to switch to an acoustic piano within the first year or two. Serious and talented intermediate to advanced students should consider purchasing, or obtaining access to a grand piano.
Are there recital opportunities to share music with peers/family?
Yes. Every year we have a large recital in May for all students to participate in.... and sometimes faculty. As well, there are several performance classes held throughout the year to offer run-through opportunities in preparations for festivals/contests. Performance can only be learned by doing and all students are encouraged to participate in these events - often students will note that the experiences in a recital considerably enhanced their confidence when having to do oral presentations as part of schoolwork.
When do I know I am prepared for an exam?
Recommendation for entrance into exams is at the discretion of the instructor. Parents who register their child for an exam without the consent of the instructor will be refused the Academy RCM number. Repertoire for an examination should be memorized at least 2 months in advance of the examination - for senior grades this should be extended to four months prior to the examination. The Academy is happy to make suggestions as to the best locations to take examintions in the GTA.
Do you send students to contests/festivals - why?
For students who are interested in these events, yes we do, however there are right and wrong mindsets for doing festivals. Festivals provide opportunities for students to practice the difficult art of performance, and to get feedback from respected musicians from across the country who serve as adjudicators in these events.
For those believing that music is an Olympic sport and that winning at all cost is the goal, then you are eventually going to be in for a world of dissappointment and will have completely missed the communal side of what music can offer. For those who realize that the festival process is first and foremost an educational one, and a nice forum in which to share your hard work, then the experience will be very positive. If you honor each step along the way and prepare well, only good can come out of the festival experience.
Do you accept transfers from Suzuki method?
For violin, yes, and for piano conditionally. The merrits of the Suzuki programs for violin and piano are not equal, and as such piano students from this method often encounter difficulties adjusting to traditional methods - it is often a chore to adjust to vegetables when you have been fed only chocolate - even though vegetables are infinitely better for you in the long run. As such, transfer students from Suzuki piano should go in to tradional private lessons with their eyes wide open and understand that there will be an adjustment period while issues of note recognition, basic rudimentary concepts, and technical deficiences are addressed.
Music History and Theory Classes
Why are these courses neccesary?
The goal of the serious teacher, and serious methodologies such as RCM Examinations, is to offer the student as well rounded an education in classical music as possible. As such, learning the basic theoretical buildings blocks of how we compose music, and providing a historical perspective in regards to stylistic evolution, genres and the wide variety of instruments and classifications which fall under the umbrella of classical music is not only an asset, but a must for anyone who has looking to enhance their understanding on all levels of the music which they are learning for their practical instrument.
Why are there two streams of course offerings?
We offer both a semester based (accelerated) and an extended course timetable (in preparation for the May exam sessions only). Factoring in the new challenges of the most updated RCME theory syllabus, the latter stream is STRONGLY RECOMMENDED for students aged 10-13 who are taking harmony and history courses as compliments to their practical examinations. This stream costs slightly more than the accelerated stream, however it gives the younger student more time to sufficiently digest the material - which is crucial as the materials from course to course are cumulative. Extended course streams for history and upper level harmony will open in November, 2010 in preparation for the May examinations.
What are the specific Theory/History course per practical instrument requirements?
Grade 5 - Basic Rudiments
Grade 6 - Intermediate Rudiments
Grade 7/8 - Advanced Rudiments
Grade 9 - Basic Harmony/History 1
Grade 10 - Intermediate Harmony/History 2/Counterpoint
ARCT - Advanced Harmony/History 3/Analysis
What is the maximum class size?
10 students. Our emphasis is first and foremost on quality, and we feel that it is difficult to adequately guage individual student progress if the class sizes are any larger than this.
How are classes organized?
History classes feature audio/visual compliments which are presented to engage the students interest at a maximum in regards to the repertoire which they are studying. Students are encouraged to participate in discussions of the traits and characteristics of the music they hear, to develop/stimulate critical thinking and to refine their appreciation of the repertoire. Homework assignments are given on a weekly basis.
Theory classes are structured so that students are active participants - whether completing assignments on chalkboards infront of their peers, to singing through their work to get a better appreciation of the melodic nuances of what they are writing. Homework assignments are given on a weekly basis.
Do you provide a textbook?
Yes. You will not receive scratchy and illegible instructor handouts. The textbooks we use are the most current and authoratative editions and are 100% compatible with RCM exam requirements - not to mention serving as useful review resources should the student leave academic studies for a semester or two.
Do you mark homework?
Yes! We want you to do your best on the exam and to learn the material solidly! All homework which is turned in at the beginning of the next class will be marked!
How qualified is your faculty?
We have an oustanding faculty - all of whom have years worth of experience of teaching these courses....as well as significant teaching experience at the university level. Our emphasis here is to educate and further enhance the students appreciation of classical music. We are passionate about what we preach and as such we strive to present the most engaging and well structured course design possible.
Are there any surprise expenses/additional lessons not included in the course outline?
The courses are designed such to leave time for review and practice examinations. Provided the student attends class and does the work and is open to learning, they should have no trouble passing the course. Free extra tutorials (completely at the discretion of the instructor) might be added under exceptional circumstances.
Early Childhood Music classes/Musikgarten
Why are Music and Movement vital for Children?
Children are naturally interested in music, and music is naturally good for children. Music is a language, and children are oriented toward learning language. Music evokes movement, and children delight in and require movement for their development and growth. Music engages the brain while stimulating neural pathways associated with such higher forms of intelligence as abstract thinking, empathy, and mathematics.
Music's melodic and rhythmic patterns provide exercise for the brain and help develop memory. Who among us learned the ABC's without the ABC song? Music is an aural art and young children are aural learners. Since ears are fully mature before birth, infants begin learning from the sounds of their environment before birth. Music is perfectly designed for training children's listening skills. Good listening skills and school achievement go hand in hand. Developmentally appropriate music activities involve the whole child-the child's desire for language, the body's urge to move, the brain's attention to patterns, the ear's lead in initiating communication, the voice's response to sounds, as well as the eye-hand coordination associated with playing musical instruments. Music is a creative experience which involves expression of feelings.
What do I and my child need to wear for these classes?
Loose and comfortable clothing for parent and child is recommended. Indoor shoes and slippers are suggested, especially during the winter time.
Why Musikgarten over other methods?
Musikgarten is an internationally acclaimed early childhood music education curriculum. It is comprised of the very best elements of several European inspired programs such as Dalcroze and Orff. The program was developed by several music PHD's and is focused exclusively on quality and holistic education. Registrants are not bombarded here with annoying and tacky commercialism which is often a feature of other methods.