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Music Notes: A Blog by the Music Academy of Garden City

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Letter to GC News

Below is a letter I wrote in response to an article in the Garden City News. The article spoke about the positive impact of music education, but failed to give any advice on picking a qualified teacher. In my opinion, not caring about the qualifications of your child's music teacher is akin to not caring about the qualifications of their school teachers. It just doesn't make sense, especially as more and more studies show the educational and developmental impact of music on our kids.


Positive impact of music

To the Editor:

Regarding the article "Students seeking private music lessons have options" that was featured in the "Back to School" section of last week's issue: As a music teacher I wholeheartedly agree with the author's assertion that music is a fundamental part of a well rounded education. I have seen firsthand the positive impact of a music education but would offer additional advice to parents seeking out music teachers for their children.

Researching the qualifications of potential music teachers is extremely important, especially since many privately run music schools have no mandatory requirements for their teachers or standardized curriculum. It is also important to make sure your child's private lesson will allow him to flourish if he should desire to become involved in an ensemble at school. For example, a student who is studying guicontinued tar privately would need to learn note reading, proper technique and jazz theory if she wanted to audition for jazz ensemble in middle or high school. Similarly, a student studying violin privately must learn proper technique, historical context, music theory and more in order to flourish in her school orchestra and be considered for audition only ensembles.

Garden City has a wonderful and challenging public school music program that offers many ensemble opportunities, so choosing a good teacher becomes even more crucial to ensuring your child's success. Another essential question for a potential private music teacher is whether he or she has experience with NYSSMA preparation. NYSSMA has complex rules that vary for instrument, level and genre, and NYSSMA scores are used to determine which students are selected for All- County and All-State ensembles.

Finally, as with all aspects of education, the best way to ensure your child succeeds in music is by being involved with the process. Get them started young with a qualified teacher, ask questions about their progress, and make sure their teacher is knowledgeable in the areas of notation, theory, technique and more, and holds a degree in music.

Dr. Peter Coco

Peter Coco is founder of the Music Academy of Garden City, an Assistant Professor of Music at Hofstra University, and a professional double bassist.

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