Friday, August 3, 2018

August Newsletter

Dear AOS Students, Families, Friends, and Teachers,
         We’re officially into August! If you can’t believe that it’s already here, you aren’t alone. It feels like just yesterday that we were starting the month of June! August is a busy month here at Academy of Sound. With Summer Session coming to a close, we’re getting ready for a recital and Fall enrollment. Here’s what’s going on this month!

Summer Recital in the Park:
Our summer recital will be taking place on Tuesday, August 21st, at 7pm. It will be Waterman Triangle Park (101 Janesville St. Oregon, WI. 53575) Our event is on Facebook- check it out and share with friends!

If you haven’t signed up for the recital, it’s not too late! You can sign up on our website at:

Leveling Up!
We didn’t have any students level up in Method books this month, but we are have many that are close. Stay tuned for updates in September and October!

Enrollment and Tuition Details:
         2018-2019 Academic Year lessons will begin on September 10th, 2018, and will go until May 22, 2019. As part of your tuition, school closings (such as Winter and Spring break,) are taken into account. All lessons are 45 minutes BUT 60 minute lessons can be requested. Tuition also includes optional participation in school recitals and events.

A couple of notes regarding lessons:

Piano Lessons:
         You might notice that the tuition for piano lessons is just slightly higher than some of the other lessons. Your tuition includes two professional tunings of your in-home piano. We recommend scheduling those in Fall and Spring for an optimal practice experience.

Guitar Lessons:
         Included in your guitar lessons are two professional adjustments. These adjustments will include a new set of strings. Maintaining your guitar will enhance your overall lessons and weekly practicing!

Sibling Discounts:
         Families that have two siblings enrolled in piano lessons can request a sibling discount on the 2X a year tuning premium if only one piano will be used in the home.

5 Inspirational Quotes to Live By When Practicing:

         Practicing can be very rewarding, but there are also the days where it is frustrating. Here are 5 quotes to help inspire you, even on the most frustrating of days:

1.    “The beautiful thing about learning is that nobody can take it away from you.”- B.B. King

2.    “Music can change the world because it can change people.”- Bono

3.    “Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and life to everything.”- Plato

4.    “You can’t stay the same. If you’re a musician and a singer, you have to change; that’s the way it works.”- Van Morrison

5.    “Music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent.”- Victor Hugo

Teacher Tips From Erin Chisman:

This month, Executive Director and piano teacher Erin Chisman shares some of her favorite tips for success in music lessons.

Time, Expectations, and Measurable Growth

A few years ago I read a great book: Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell. In the book, Gladwell tells several stories of prominent figures who've achieved successes greater than most. One of the common threads lies in the "magical" 10,000 hours. He asserts that it takes approximately 10,000 hours to achieve mastery in a field. 

Take your average practice time (in hours) per week, and you can do the math on how many years it should take to achieve mastery of your instrument. Let's say your home practice is 30 minutes per day, 5 days each week. That's 2.5 hours per week. 2.5 x 52 = 130 hours per year. At that rate it would take more than SEVENTY-SIX YEARS to reach mastery. Bump that practice up to an hour a day, six times each week and you'll get there in thirty-two years. That's still a very long time. This is why we don't want you to quit after just a year of two of private music lessons. At that point the fun has yet to begin!

My point is that we all should have realistic expectations about how time spent practicing your instrument correlates to musical growth. Once your expectations have been adjusted, it's time to make a commitment to a practice schedule.

One of my kids throws rifles for color guard in Shadow Drum & Bugle Corps, based right here in Oregon. The time commitment for rehearsals is not small: about 70 hours per week even when you factor in meal breaks. At that rate, one could be expected to achieve a level of mastery in just under two years (if the program ran continuously year-round, which it doesn't). Most sports also require a large time commitment to practice. This always equates to greater success of the individual and of the team. 

Those of us who are musicians must be willing to make some sacrifices to accommodate the practice time required to move forward. It may mean skipping some screen time, participating in fewer extra-curriculars, and blocking off time specifically dedicated to practice. That's where measurable growth comes in. At Academy of Sound, we encourage (some of us require) participation in yearly competitions. With these, a judge will rate a performance, giving teachers and students helpful information to determine strengths and weaknesses. We use this data along with our own observations to curate a music education plan for that individual. Then they enter the competition the following year, and we can use that data to compare to previous years. Do we see growth, stagnancy, or even a decline in performance? Then adjustments can be made to our lesson plans.

Another tool we use in piano to measure growth is method book levels. This may seem obvious, but we don't allow students to pass through songs in these books without demonstrating mastery. Sometimes this means a song must be practiced for several weeks. As students level-up, they'll need to increase practice time to keep up. This is why we often see a plateau around level 2 or 3. This is another crucial time to push through and keep coming back. 

Remember, your teacher is here for you. We have a wealth of knowledge and experience, and have probably been through the various plateaus and frustrations you'll experience as a growing musician. We're all still growing too! I suggest taking a look at your goals, and see if your amount of practice time will get you to where you want to be in time. 

That’s all for this month! Have a great August, and we’ll see you in September!!