2020 has been quite the year! So many hard things going on in our lives, and music shouldn't be one of them!
Here at Bucktown Music, we are just finishing up our winter virtual recitals, and of course there was so much work and effort put into practicing and perfecting the performance pieces. Now what?!? Use this time to reflect, play old songs that you've already mastered, and just enjoy making music. Even better if you can get the whole family involved!
KISS (Keep It Simple, Silly...)
Find EASY pieces that will give you that instant gratification and a sense of accomplishment, so you can feel like you had a "win." We all need a success right now. Choose an easy piece, play it, rock it, enjoy it, repeat it! Take out music books that you've already finished and brush up on your old favorites. Buy a book (or ebook) of holiday songs that are 1 level easier than what you are currently playing, so you can just play and enjoy without a ton of effort. It's all about having fun right now!
Have a Music Listening Session
Music listening doesn't need to be limited to the background, it can be the main event! Have each family member choose an album (or just one song if you have impatient little ones!) and put all of your other devices away while you really listen to the music. Talk about what instruments you hear, a certain lyric or melody or harmonic change that seems interesting, or something that happened in your life. Does this song remind you of another song? Why? You can make it extra special by lighting a candle or a fire and making hot cocoa or something cozy. If you or your child learned a classical piece such as Ode to Joy, put on the symphony version and point out all the times that the theme is played in the different instrument families. Look for different arrangements or versions of familiar tunes and compare them. Try a new genre or music from a different country or in a different language, you might find a new favorite!
If you are currently motivated to take your playing to the next level, by all means do it! But if what you are needing right now is something a little more laid back, music is here for you too. Music is healing, whether you are listening or playing, and it's a great way to share screen-free time with your family and loved ones. We wish you a safe, healthy and peaceful end to 2020 and hope you let music bring you some JOY this season.
How are YOU sharing music? What are you currently listening to? Let us know in the comments!
by Jessica Solares, AFA, BM
I've been teaching music lessons for 20 years. I've taught voice, violin, piano and Kindermusik (early childhood music), and have been running our studio along with my husband Luis since 2008. When COVID-19 turned everything upside down this year, needless to say I was not at all excited about the prospect of moving our entire studio to an online format. I was concerned about distractions in the home, internet connectivity issues, out of tune instruments, lack of attention and focus, and concerns about one more thing to do on-screen. Then, something very interesting happened. I noticed my 8 year old daughter thriving in her virtual piano lessons in a way that she hadn't been when we were doing in-person lessons. Here is what I am absolutely loving about virtual lessons from a parent perspective:
1. No more driving to and from lessons means we get hours back in our day. This was a game changer!
Before, on piano day, my husband or I would have to leave work early to go pick her up from school and then drive to the studio for her lesson, then drive home and prep dinner and the other evening things we have to do. The 30-minute lesson was more like 90+ minutes of running around when you factor in all of the driving. Now we just log on from home, so easy!
2. My daughter has taken more ownership of her practicing.
She knows not to even ask about watching TV or other screen time unless she has practiced piano. This has helped her be more responsible about finding time in the day to practice. Sometimes it's first thing in the morning, and sometimes it's during virtual school break. Either way, my nagging has been cut way back! I've also noticed her creativity budding even more when practicing is not a chore, but just something she does as part of her day. She's been making up her own songs and trying to figure out songs she likes from the radio or TV.
3. I can keep an "ear" on the lessons and know what she needs to be working on.
It's helpful to be in more communication with her teacher, and also half listen in from the other room to hear how the teacher explains things to her in the lesson, so that if she does get stuck on something, I'm better able to help her in the same teaching style that her teacher is using.
4. She is occupied for a half hour so I can do something else!
It's usually something very exciting like clean the kitchen after dinner, but still. Enough said
5. Out of town friends & family can tune in to virtual recitals and see her perform.
We normally hold our recitals at the beautiful Fine Arts Building in downtown Chicago. I do really miss the grand piano and views of Lake Michigan and Buckingham Fountain, there is something magical about performing there. However, the silver lining of hosting virtual recitals is that we don't have to limit capacity and people can join in from anywhere in the world! We have had grandparents tune in from other states and even other countries.
I was so hesitant about virtual lessons but they have really been a great option for our busy family. In fact, we like the virtual lessons so much that they are something that we will keep as an offering at Bucktown Music even when things are back to in-person. We offer lessons on most instruments and voice, for kids and adults, we hope you can join us! Music lessons also make a wonderful gift as we enter into the holiday season. We hope you have a healthy, safe and musical day!
Jessica Solares is one of the founders of Bucktown Music, along with her husband Luis. She holds a Bachelor of Music degree from Elmhurst College, and is a licensed Kindermusik educator with Top Program distinction.