• Michael

Our kids see the WHOLE picture -- why does that matter?

At Tacoma Music Lab, we like to deviate from the typical music lesson model.

While there is nothing wrong with the way I learned growing up -- and maybe the way you learned, if you took private music lessons in Tacoma -- I think there exists an opportunity for music educators to provide something more for their students and families.

What do I mean by "the way I learned growing up"?

Traditionally, a parent pays for his/her child's piano lessons on a per-lesson basis. A student meets with a teacher for maybe 30 or 45 minutes, does a bit of playing while the teacher watches, receives an assignment, and heads home for the week to likely not practice until the following week's lesson. The parent pays. Rinse and repeat. I learned from a wonderful piano teacher in Tacoma in this same fashion.

This is the way things have always been done, and it gets the job done for a certain type of family. Nothing wrong with that. Like I said, it's how I learned.

But after I went to university for music, I realized that music is about so much more than playing notes on a keyboard.

Music is history, it's philosophy, it's religion. Music connects all cultures and communities across time and space. It is a way for its students to understand themselves as part of a larger human tapestry.

Music can be enriching on a profoundly deep level. With the right teacher, it can make life more interesting, exciting, and deep.

Tacoma Music Lab really believes in the power of music education to create fantastic human beings (and of course, fantastic musicians).

To that end, we run on a bit of an unorthodox schedule. Each week, students meet with their instructor on a 1:1 basis to cover new material, like they would in any ordinary music lesson. In the last week of the month, however, the schedule shifts. Instead of a lesson, students are required to attend one of several rotating group classes on special musical topics.

Margeaux, age 13

Example classes include: overcoming performance anxiety, rhythm through movement, Beethoven and pop music, the movie music of John Williams, the history of Jazz, African drumming, Debussy and the music of Indonesia, and more.

Because we treat our students like members of a gym or health club, we bill only one membership fee per month, which pays for both the students' individual lessons as well as their participation in classes like those I listed above.

We also believe that practice is almost more important than the music lesson itself, and so we provide several opportunities a week through our "Sonata Society" program for students to practice their instrument under the supervision of one of our teachers. You wouldn't believe how big of a difference this makes in terms of student motivation. If they treat their music practice as something they have to attend -- like soccer practice -- rather than something they have to do at random times all week, their mindset shifts and suddenly they start to accomplish more.

We're not worried about charging for each individual lesson, or counting minutes on a clock. We have our sights set on something much bigger for our kids.

Now more than ever, it's important to create human beings who are equipped for the future; humans who can reason, think critically for themselves, and analyzed the world around them in ways that make for a richer, more impactful life.

Stella, age 6

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