Helping Your Child Succeed in Music


For parents without a musical background, the question of how to help your child practice and succeed in music can feel like a game of chance. However, it’s helpful to know that the musical aspects of children’s practicing do not need to be addressed by parents. The key to helping children succeed is creating structure and accountability without pressure and its inevitable counterpart: resistance.  

To help create this dynamic, try the following:

  1. Work with your child to create a simple structure that they choose - Requiring your child to create a practice plan but allowing them to decide the details introduces structure but puts them in the driver’s seat of their music development. Your child will have much more investment if he or she feels they are taking on a project they have designed. There can be negotiation of course, to make sure the plan has substance. 

  2. Awareness and accountability - The best way to check on whether your child has been keeping up with their practicing is to be clear that you are simply noting for yourself whether they are fulfilling the agreed upon plan. This makes it clear that they are not being pressured and their power is not being taken away but that others are simply aware of whether or not they have kept their commitment. Again, this approach creates greater investment by letting the child feel they are choosing their own path but that it also matters to others whether they are following through.

This simple approach creates engagement between parent and child around music without creating pressure and the inevitable resistance to that pressure.

Guitar This Fall at Vanguard Music Studio

VMS is proud to work with two excellent guitar instructors in Alan Rigoletto and Ed Littman. Alan and Ed have decades of collective experience and engaging teaching styles that make students excited about music and learning. To learn more see below.

Alan Rigoletto

Alan Rigoletto

VMS is proud to offer guitar lessons with two experienced and engaging teachers this fall: Ed Littman and Alan Rigoletto. Alan and Ed have decades of collective experience and a make a big investment in their students. No matter what your musical interests are - from rock, jazz or classical - VMS guitar faculty has you covered.

Lambertville, New Jersey based guitarist Alan Rigoletto has dedicated his career to musical growth and stylistic mastery. He is constantly working on perfecting old material, and endlessly searching for new music from all cultures. In addition to performing, Alan diligently shares his love for music as a concert organizer and music educator.

After graduating from The College of New Jersey in 2010 with a degree in Classical Guitar Performance, Alan immediately started developing his career as a professional musician in Denville, New Jersey. The guitar in his hands was constantly changing: a nylon string guitar at weddings, a steel string guitar for folk music performances, or an electric guitar for progressive rock concerts in New York City.


Austin's Piano Service

We want to recognize our excellent piano technician Austin King. He is a classmate of ours from music school and a skilled technician. He tunes and services our pianos at the studio (when Andrew's dad can't make the trip from Michigan) and many many of student's pianos as well. You can grab his card on your way in or out of the studio or visit his site:

A well-tuned piano benefits the whole family! 


Cost, Convenience or Quality?

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Recognizing limitations is the starting point for offering something of value because it moves us from the realm of the hypothetical to the realm of the real. The three factors that make up the title of this post are a great tool for recognizing what's possible and choosing the foundational priorities for one's product or service. 

The first thing to bear in mind when working with this framework is that the three choices must be put in order of importance, and that order reflects the current goal of your company. Each combination of priorities best serves a particular timeline. For example, a priority set of 1. Cheap, 2. Convenient, 3. High-quality works in the short-term and may be the best choice for a certain period, but over time, because cheap products do not earn significant returns per unit and therefore do not incentivize long-term investment by the provider, this strategy reaches a limit. This is particularly true with services because they require a baseline amount of the provider's time. 

For the long-term, especially with services, sustainability and maximum benefit to customers and providers require the first priority to be quality. This isn't feel-goodism, rather it is rooted in the fact that quality is the least constrained of the three priorities. The range of cost is determined by the market and the convenience of an in-person service is determined by location. Quality on the other hand, can expand exponentially over time, and in fact, must do so to grow any service business.

Furthermore, for a service provider with integrity, quality is the most rewarding type of improvement to make, bringing greater satisfaction even if new customers do not immediately flood through the doors. While it is essential to create savings and greater convenience for customers through efficiency and good business practices, improvements to quality are creative and most importantly, increase value. Value changes everything. When customers recognize they are receiving something of high value - as long as there are no unreasonable inconveniences or costs - they are simply happier and grateful to be in a good situation. 

Music instruction is a long-term business requiring a stable situation for maximum success. At Vanguard Music Studio, for all the reasons above, we focus on quality first while working to pass savings on to our customers and provide as much convenience as possible. We invest in quality by creating special performance and learning opportunities for our students - extending well beyond weekly lessons - hiring faculty selectively and maintaining a comfortable and welcoming space. 

Assessing the quality of a piece of fruit or a clothing is much simpler than assessing the quality of musical instruction so to help with this challenge, we make as much information available to our students and parents as possible (for example, blog posts like this one!). Next in our series will be a post with tips for assessing if a music teacher is right for you!