Music Lessons 101

Music Lessons 101

Do you want to be a music parent? You need to know these 5 things!


How do you know what to expect from music lessons if you never had music lessons yourself? Maybe you did take lessons, but you’ve never considered lessons from a parent’s perspective. I’m going to show you how to tell if your child is ready for lessons, how lessons work, how to practice, how to help your student be successful, and what your music teacher really wants you to know! I’ve been a piano teacher for over 15 years and this is based on questions I get asked frequently. Please READ THIS if you’re considering lessons for your child because you need to know these things!Learn more

Local Performances in November and December

These are family-friendly events in Athens or Oconee that are perfect for children and have music involved in some way! I’ve put a star next to events that are for everyone in the family, even wiggly toddlers and preschoolers. The other concerts may be a bit more formal and appropriate for school age children. There are, of course, many other musical events in our community, but I have avoided anything that begins after 7PM.

There are many great student musician programs, including graduate students and those further along in their musical studies. These are often held at Edge Hall at Hugh Hodgson School of Music. The full calendar is here, but I didn’t include it in the listings, sticking to groups and ensemble or professional musicians.

I also didn’t include the great library storytimes hosted by Miss Rebecca at the Oconee County Library and Mr. Evan at the Athens library but I encourage you to check them out with your littlest family members!

If I’ve missed anything, please email me and let me know and I will edit this post to add it.

+Nov. 3, 10AM – Spotlight on the arts Family Day

Nov. 3, 2PM – Broadway Musical, the Newsies, at Morton Theater presented by Athens Creative Theater

Nov. 4, 3PM – Broadway Musical, the Newsies, at Morton Theater presented by Athens Creative Theater

Nov. 5, 5:30PM – UGA Jazz Band Ensembles

Nov. 7, 4:30PM – Guitar Ensemble Concert: Daniel Bolshoy

*Nov. 7, Kiddy Keys Winter Session Begins

Nov. 9, 6:00PM – Erin Ellis, Cello and Kevin Chance, Piano

Nov. 10, 11:00AM – Family Folk Dancing

*Nov. 11, 1-4PM – I Love Ukulele Festival

Nov. 11, 3PM – Athens Symphony Orchestra Fall Concert

Nov. 12-17 – Allegro Music Winter Session begins! The Tiger Collection

*Nov. 15, 10:30AM – Baby Music Jam at Oconee County Library

*Nov. 17, 1-9PM – Music For Change at Vintage Oaks Farm in Watkinsville, GA

Nov. 27, 3:30 – Hodgson String Quartet

Nov. 28, 5:30 – UGA Steel Drum Band

*Dec. 1, 10AM – Geometric Holiday Family Day at Georgia Museum of Art – Featuring music by Meridian Women’s Chorus

Dec. 2, 5:30PM – Solstice Sisters Holiday Concert

Dec. 6, 7:00PM – OCHS Choral Department presents Concert Choir & OC A CAPPELLA

Dec. 6, 8:00PM – OCHS Musical Theater & The Glitz n’ Ritz Show Choir

*Dec. 8, 10AM and 1PM – Mingle with Kringle at OCAF

Dec. 9, 3PM – Athens Symphony Orchestra Christmas Concert at the Classic Center

*Dec. 13, 10:30AM – Baby Music Jam at Oconee County Library

Dec. 15, 2:30PM – Truly Christmas, a musical presented by Brightstone Productions

Dec. 16, 2:30PM – Truly Christmas, a musical presented by Brightstone Productions

Dec. 22, 4:00PM – The Nutcracker Ballet at the Classic Center

Dec. 23, 3:00PM – The Nutcracker Ballet at the Classic Center


*infant/toddler or preschool friendly!


Holiday Specials

Give the long-lasting gift of music!

It’s always a challenge to choose the perfect gift: especially for the little ones who lose interest in new things quickly. Why not choose a gift that will bring enjoyment for a lifetime? Our music lessons are the perfect gift for any music lover – young or old. We currently offer lessons primarily in pianovoiceguitarukulele; cello and violin are available on request. 

This offer is for new clients only. You may purchase as many months of lessons as you would like and gift certificates never expire. Please call or email for more details. 

Preschool Music Classes

There are so many benefits to early childhood music education and the Holidays are the perfect time to invest in your child or grandchild’s future! Kiddy Keys preschool classes are a fun adventure in learning about the keyboard, basic rhythms, note names and expression marks. These small group classes make learning about the piano fun and provide a stepping stone to private lessons for the youngest beginnners. The recommended age range is 3-5. These gift certificates never expire and this deal may not come back, so if your child is too young currently, stock up for when they are older! 

Call or email us for more information, we’re happy to help make your holiday gift stand out! 

FAQ: What should I know before starting private lessons?

How do you know what to expect from music lesson if you never had music lessons yourself? Or maybe you had a bad experience with music lessons and want to make sure your kids do not have that same experience. I’m going to give you an overview of the lesson process, home practice expectation, general policies, and tell you what your teacher really wants you to know! 

Lesson Process: How do Lessons work? What do I need to know?  

Your instructor is your child’s guide to their own self-discovery. Once a week you will meet with your teacher for a private lesson, in which the teacher will give you an assigment consisting of technical exercises and repertoire (songs!). The assigment should be taken home and practiced daily. The next week your teacher gives you feedback on the progress and a new assignment. There will be performance opportunities to provide motivation: recitals, festivals and group classes. The bulk of the learning will take place at home, like I said before, your instructor is a guide. 

Before you get your children started in music lessons, one of the first things to consider is the long-term commitment. Learning an instrument takes years. To be able to play something recognizable takes years. I think a lot of people get into music lessons cause they want to play the song that they heard on youtube, in a movie, in church, on the radio, etc. That’s great! It’s a good goal but it’s going to take your child several years to get there at a minimum and that’s if they practice at home. When you think about the time and financial commitment for your family, just realize that if you want to achieve even a basic level of competency at the instrument then it will take YEARS! I personally took music lessons from age 5 to 23 (when I finished college). Obviously not everyone will become a music major, but that brings us to another point when considering lessons: KNOW YOUR GOALS!

People look for lessons because
  • I want my kid to be exposed to music
  • I want my kid to be able to play proficiently songs that they love (pop, musicals, etc)
  • I want my kid to be a competent classical musician and potentially major/minor in music OR get a college scholarship in music.


If you’re on the number 1 train, just go find a group class. Seriously, if you’re just looking for a short-term exposure, you will waste so much money going through private lessons. Numbers 2 and 3 will follow the same structure as far as the length of time in lessons and the years it will take but the teacher will develop a different plan for the technique and repertoire at some point. ALWAYS COMMUNICATE YOUR GOALS TO YOUR INSTRUCTOR!

Ok, I understand the actual lessons, now what about practicing? Do we really need to do it?

I’m here to drop a truth bomb. If the student is never practicing at home you’re just wasting time and money. That sounds harsh to say but it’s very true because the only way to improve is to do something over and over – there’s no quick fix. If you don’t follow through and help the student practice at home then they’re not going to make progress, they’re not going to learn how to play music and then you’re gonna be like, “Why did I just spent all this money on lessons and she still can’t play anything that sounds like music?!”

If you just want your kid to be exposed to music have her take a group class somewhere! If you want your child to really learn an instrument then make sure that they are practicing at home! That’s the only way that they’re going to actually develop and make progress. I’m not kidding – there is no short fix for this. I have never, ever, ever met someone who learned to play an instrument at a level without practicing at all; at least, not in a way that people want to hear! Haha!

What does the parent need to do?
  • encourage the student to practice
  • get them set up on a practice routine
  • make sure that they’re practicing their assignment
  • communicate with the teacher about progress


Some people can get away with less practice than others but everyone needs practice! That’s just the truth. One of my most talented friends in college as a music major could play just about anything she picked everything up very quickly: piano, accordion, violin trumpet, saxophone, etc. You name it, she could probably play it. When this girl decided she wanted to go for the violin she practiced all the time and become VERY good at that one instrument. The moral of the story is that even though she had natural talent, she was willing to work at it and put a lot of effort into so she saw results!

I never enjoyed practice as a kid — I’d be lying if I said that I did — but I did do it, mostly because of my mom, which took me to a point of proficiency. When I realized what I was playing was starting to sound like real music, I got my own motivation behind it and started practicing on my own. It wasn’t until I was putting in several hours a day that I got to be more advanced That’s just the case with musical instruments. Now, don’t worry. You’re not going to have your six-year-old practicing two hours a day but they should be at least putting in enough time to finish what their instructors assign them. When you are planning your child’s extracurricular activities don’t think that Music is just going to be a commitment once a week because it’s going to be a commitment every day!!

Depending on how young the child is, they will probably need some help in the beginning! If you have a 6-8 year old beginning in music lessons they’re going to need a little bit a help at home. It’s just like learning how to read, if you think about it. They’re going to school for 5-6 hours every day, five days a week, to learn their other subjects. Music is a full-brain, complicated skill to learn and we also have to learn to read essentially a new language. You’re only with your teacher one day a week for 30-60 minutes. The person who makes up the slack is the parent and if you can’t sit down with your child and you don’t have the time then I just don’t want you to waste your money with music lessons. It’s a big commitment to be a Music parent. It really is!!! This is why I really appreciate all of the music parents at my studio because I know that they have really worked and sacrificed to get your kids in music lessons and to give them this gift so that the rest of their life they can always have music.  

Do I need an instrument?

Yes, you absolutely need an instrument. I get asked this question a lot! If you read the practice section above, then you hopefully understand the importance of regular at-home practice. It is crucial for progress. You’re investing in an education for your child where you get to be the teacher for the rest of the week after lesson day is over. Being a music parent takes a lot of commitment, but knowing that the end goal is so amazing should help ease the burden!


So how do lessons really work? What does my teacher want me know?

In a nutshell, you need to practice every day for years and years to achieve mastery. Malcolm Gladwell suggests in his book Outliers that there is a 10,000-Hour Rule. He considers the 10,000-Hour Rule to be the key to success in any field. It is simply a matter of practicing a specific task that can be accomplished with 20 hours of work a week for 10 years.

Perhaps I should have titled this article with something about practicing, but I think if you aren’t a musician, then you don’t necessarily think that there is so much work involved. It seems like it’s just something fun and glamorous that should come easily and always be fun. It is super fun and some people have more natural ability than others but to be a GREAT musician takes something even more special and rare than talent: discipline and perseverance!!!

Meet the teacher – Kyle Dawkins

Kyle Dawkins is a guitarist from Clarkesville, Georgia. He is a founding member of the acclaimed chamber ensembles Georgia Guitar Quartet and Revien, who have each been regularly featured artists on National Public Radio’s Performance Today and have played for audiences as large as 10,000. As a composer, his music has appeared in television, film, radio, modern dance and visual art collaborations. He holds a BMusic in Guitar Performance from the University of Georgia. Kyle has been an award winner in several music competitions presented by the Georgia Music Teacher’s Association, the MTNA National Concerto Competition and the Georgia Music Hall of Fame. He currently teaches guitar at Piedmont College in Demorest, GA.

Kyle Dawkins Guitar lessons
Kyle Dawkins

Meet the Teacher – Amanda Sacchitello

Amanda introduces herself in this quick video! 


Amanda Sacchitello received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Music, Latin, and Classical Culture from the University of Georgia in 2009. In 2011, Amanda received a Masters of Music Performance degree with a focus on Piano Pedagogy from the University of Georgia. Amanda has been teaching independently since 2008. Amanda enjoys sharing her love of piano and music with all ages, a hobby Amanda has had since she was 5. In addition to teaching, Amanda has collaboratively performed and taught in Georgia, New York, and Missouri!

Amanda Piano Instructor
Amanda Sacchitello

Preschool Music: how it benefits your child

Preschool music can seem like just another fun activity but the educational benefits are huge! Music is like a language and your children will absorb the natural rhythms and cadences of the music they are exposed to in much the way as they quickly learn languages.

A big buzz word in education these days is neuroplasticity, which basically means that your brain CAN change throughout the course of one’s life. However, it is much easier to build the brain up during the early years of rapid brain development than to change it later. When musical expression and audiation is a part of the young brain, it helps to make formal music study much more productive in later years.

Check out this infographic on why Preschool music is so beneficial for your child! I’ve got my 3-year old son enrolled in one of our Kiddy Keys class this Fall and I’m so happy that he will be building a foundation of musical skills and having fun at the same time! Now of course, that’s easy for him, because his mama is a music teacher, but I also want to make it easy for your child to get the same experience.

Preschool Music

Preschool music is such a great activity to enjoy with your young child! They may be the next great musical talent. Or they may just have a lifelong love of music because you started them young!

KiddyKeys® is a highly educational program that focuses on teaching piano concepts and music appreciation to children 18 months to 5 years old. In addition to all the developmental benefits above, it’s also a great way to prepare your child for school with focus on reading skills as well as listening.

The KiddyKeys® program offers so many wonderful learning opportunities:

• Rhythm and movement exercises that develop small and large motor skills
• Recognition of notes and note values
• Memory skill building through repeated music terminology
• Counting exercises to help recognize numbers and develop math skills
• Creative development through sound composition and exploration
• Introduction to the music staff and piano keyboard
• Development of verbal skills through group interaction
• Reinforcement of listening skills by discerning high and low, loud and soft sounds
• Improved hand-eye coordination through hands-on experience with rhythm instruments and the keyboard
• Recognition of the music alphabet, colors, and shapes with worksheet activities
• Music story time focusing on composers, music terminology, and behavior

When you enroll your preschooler in the KiddyKeys® program, you will:

• Experience the joy of learning piano concepts and music appreciation.
• Build character with lessons that emphasize the development of positive values and self-worth.
• Make learning fun – and help prepare your child for school by developing basic cognitive, social, and motor skills necessary to succeed in school.
• Beam with pride as your little one happily sings songs about Mozart and Beethoven…Recognizes the music alphabet…develops rhythm and movement.

I hope something in this article helps you when it comes to making choices about the education of your child!

Preschool Music

Adult Music Lessons – Tips for being successful!

Adult Music Lessons can be intimidating!

My student, Ann Kohler, was kind enough to sit down with me and do an interview about being an adult piano student (video below). Lots of adults tell me that they took music lessons when they were kids but dropped out for various reasons. They often want to begin again but it seems intimidating to start.

Ann has progressed from learning simple tunes to playing jazz/pop/classical standards and having a wonderful time doing music she loves! She recently played in an adult only recital and said this…


What is different from childhood music lessons?

Of course it will feel very different making space for this new hobby in your life. What I love about Ann is her great attitude! She understands that it isn’t always going to come easily, but she carves out time from her busy schedule. Just don’t let her video persona of being retired and laidback fool you, she stays very active in the community and has a full schedule with grandkids as well. The difference is that this time around it is 100% your choice and you are making the commitment on your own.

Check out the video below to hear what Ann has to say about why she started lessons again and to get her tips for being a successful adult student. One thing that stands out to me is that as an adult you have a chance to develop a sort of friendship and camaraderie with your instructor in a different way from a child.

What if I’m starting for the first time ever?

I think it’s also important to address adults that want to start an instrument for the first time ever. That is a different experience from Ann, who had lessons as a child. Honestly I think you have it easier if you’re a blank slate! You don’t have any pre-conceived notions about how fast you should be moving, or what lessons should look like. Just know that it does take time and practice will need to become a habit in your day for you to truly feel successful.

If this is something you really want, just get started and try not to overthink it! I can guarantee you, once you start, you’ll be having so much fun that you’ll wonder why it took you so long to begin. Personally, I love helping someone check an item off their bucket list (ok ok, I just love lists and checking things off lists, period!).

Life beings outside of your comfort zone.

Let’s Go!

Ann’s Interview about being a returning adult student

How do I know if my child is ready for music lessons?

Ready or not?

Ready or not? As parents we always want the best for our kids! We’re eager for them to do activities that are educational, beneficial to their IQ, and deliver lifelong enjoyment–such as music lessons. I get asked all the time, “is my child ready for music lessons?” Because most parents really can’t wait to get their child into music lessons.

Good news, folks! There is no more guessing about if your child is ready or not. YOU can find out if your child is ready for music lessons with some simple tips and techniques.

Then all you need to do is find a great teacher, but I’ve got you covered there too! ?

What does an ideal lesson look like for a young beginner?

First of all, do NOT let anyone tell you that your child should be able to sit still for 30 minutes. This is just not true! A general rule of thumb is that kids can stay at one activity for 1 minute plus their age, for example, a 7 year old should be able to focus on an activity for 7-8 minutes. There are so many different activities to work on in a lesson; a good teacher will be switching activities every few minutes!

Here’s an example of how I would structure a 30 minute lesson for a 4-7 year old child:

2 minutes playing a finger warmup
1 minute reviewing last week’s concept
2 minutes playing an improv or a piece they are already very good at (review and make them feel successful and confident!)
5 minutes learning a new piece + concept
5 minutes get up and move around (rhythm work) or play a game
5 minutes learn another new piece (working on the same concept)
5 minutes doing a music game app or fun worksheet to reinforce the new concept
5 minutes learn another new piece OR depending on the student, wrap up and talk about practice.

Notice we just do something for about 5 minutes max? Notice the time for play and exploration and the things we do to make them feel successful? You don’t need to worry about your child being able to sit perfectly still for 30 minutes or the mean old piano teacher raps their knuckles. That is a thing of the past, thank goodness!

Your child may be ready if…

Here is what they SHOULD be able to do:

  • Know their alphabet very well, bonus points if they can say it backward!
  • Be able to recognize simple patterns (can they do an “I spy” puzzle and find things on the page?)
  • Enjoy playing around with music instruments
  • Be able to focus on one thing for 5-7 minutes
  • Be able to follow directions from an adult
  • Have favorite songs – what a great sign they love music!
  • Be able to sing somewhat on pitch
  • Be able to clap simple rhythms back to you (try a copycat game!)
  • Be able to hold a pen or pencil for tracing letters (a good sign that they have the motor skills necessary for musical training)

They may not be doing everything to a high level yet, but those basics should be in place in order to make the transition to the routine and structure of a private lesson.

Oconee Music lessons

Thank you for reading and I hope this information helps you make a choice about your child being ready for lessons. It’s a big commitment financially and a big commitment for your schedule so you don’t want to jump in without realistic expectations. All of Oconee Music’s teachers are excellent with young beginners and we are always ready to meet you and help with this assessment!

If you read this and you don’t think your child is quite ready, consider one of our group classes for preschoolers. Kiddy Keys keeps the learning light and fun while still covering some of the basics that we learn at the beginning of private lessons. It also really develops their ear as they head into music study.

Enroll my child today!

Lastly, enjoy a visual summary!

7 ways to tell if my child is ready for music lessons.