Music Lessons for Children and Adults
Teaching music lessons was a fun addition to my private practice when I was first getting started. Unfortunately, the waitlist I have for music therapy clients makes it no longer possible for me to squeeze lessons into my schedule. When appropriate, we can include learning of an instrument into therapy sessions but the primary goal is always something non-musical like fine motor coordination or perceptual motor integration.
Of course, the benefits are much broader than the narrowly defined goals that are fundable through third party reimbursement. Learning to play an instrument develops discipline and is a valuable leisure skill that will last a lifetime. In addition, research shows that learning to read music and play the piano develops math and spatial reasoning abilities.
Even though I am no longer accepting students, I decided to keep this page active as I frequently get requests for lessons. I recommend that you connect with a teacher through the Oshkosh Area Music Teachers Association.
Guitar is an instrument that I didn’t learn until college but is required for a degree in music therapy. Now it's the instrument that I use almost daily in my work. If I was stranded on an island and had to choose just one instrument, it would probably be the guitar!
Children do not typically have the fine motor strength required for guitar playing until around age eight but could start on the ukulele at a younger age if interested.
The ukulele and guitar are very similar in terms of the fine motor coordination needed to finger chords with the left hand and produce a strumming pattern with the right hand. The ukulele is easier in that it has four strings rather than six. There is also less effort required to push the strings down and the fretboard is not as wide, making it easier for smaller hands.
The ukulele is becoming very popular in the United States and comes in many shapes, sizes and colors. The baritone ukulele is the largest in the ukulele family and is actually exactly the same as the top four strings on a guitar. This makes it easier to transition from a ukulele to a guitar if desired, although once you learn the ukulele, you'll probably want to stick with it -- it's just that much fun!
My primary instrument throughout grade school, high school and college was trumpet. It doesn’t come in real handy in my music therapy work but I find ways to include it.
One of my favorite things to do is play "Amazing Grace" on my homemade trumpet made out of a red funnel, milk tank tubing, and a real trumpet mouthpiece. I also let children push down the valves on my real trumpet while I buzz my lips to create the sound.
I play trumpet in church as often as I can. After having studied under Mr. Baca at UW-Eau Claire for four years, I find that a nice warm tone is available to me even if I don't have time to practice. You can listen to a duet from a recent Easter here.
Piano lessons are generally not recommended until age 7, occasionally younger if a child is very interested. For younger children, lessons are 30 minutes. When the kids demonstrate readiness skills, I always like to transition to 45 minute lessons so that we had more time to include improvisation, music theory and songwriting.
I have experience teaching kids with and without special needs and really enjoyed both. We held a piano recital every nine to twelve months at an assisted living facility where we could enrich others lives while we play!
Learning to play the piano is an extremely valuable experience for improving fine motor skills, strength and coordination. Developing the ability to read music or an adapted form of music notation while simultaneously moving the fingers and hearing an auditory signal is highly effective for improving perceptual motor integration. Plus, it's just plain fun and develops a valuable leisure skill.
It is recommended that you own an acoustic or digital piano with full-size keys, but I have started several beginners on a $100 keyboard to see if it is something the child enjoys. Learning on a lighted keyboard is also an option that works for children and adults who are visually impaired or may not be able to read adapted music notation for other reasons. There is even a setting on these lighted keyboards which allows a person to touch any key and get the right note. They are then able to successfully create music by using their ear to play the rhythms.
Please email me with any questions.