Learning to play an instrument from a young age is such an amazing experience for kids. It’s a journey of confidence and self-discovery. The developmental impact that it has—neurologically, emotionally, and socially—is really quite unique and powerful. It’s our goal to make that experience fun for students and something doable for you as parents. Here’s a summary of the important points that most parents want to know:
Violin, Guitar and Piano – All ages 3 and up are welcome!
Brain Development – Unlike any other activity we know of, learning to play a musical instrument grows a child’s neural network exponentially. Because it unifies all three major sensory pathways, studies show a long-term increase in spacial-temporal IQ by 46%. Spacial-Temporal IQ is one reflection of the capacity a child has to compute and reason using the knowledge structures at the foundations of math and science.
Social & Emotional Maturity – Studies also show a profound impact on verbal communication skills and emotional development—speech, language learning, memory, attention, and the ability to convey emotions —all greatly improved in students that are learning to play an instrument.
More Impact in Early Years – The earlier you begin learning to play a musical instrument, the better. 95% of a person’s permanent life-time neural connections are made by age 12. The younger the age, the more rapidly these connections are being made.
Making Good Citizens – Music Kids lessons are about far more than teaching technique, growing brains, and making kids happy (though we do all of that too!). By teaching them how to create a beautiful tone and play beautiful melodies on their instrument, we teach them something that stays with them their entire life—the experience of beauty. Playing an instrument is more than an academic study; it’s an expression of the human spirit. This kind of comprehensive education is important for the flourishing of society itself.
To quote Dr. Shininchi Suzuki: “Teaching music is not my main purpose. I want to make good citizens. If children hear fine music from the day of their birth and learn to play it, they develop sensitivity, discipline and endurance. They get a beautiful heart… Music exists for the purpose of growing an admirable heart.”
Duration – The program is a school year long program consisting of 28 class weeks of instruction, typically from the first week of October up through the end of school. When school’s on holiday break we don’t have classes scheduled either.
Frequency – Classes are 30 minutes in length, held once per week throughout the school year for 28 weekly classes. Violin and Guitar classes occur in groups of 3-4 students depending on enrollment, and piano classes have a maximum of 2 students learning together. If there’s an unexpected school closure or rare teacher sick day, no worries — there’s enough buffer in the school calendar that nearly always allows us to get in all 28 planned classes. We’ll be keeping track!
Daytime Scheduling – For added convenience, our weekly classes are integrated during the daytime, so they don’t compete with other after-school or evening activities. Once parents register their student, we work with school offices and classroom teachers for suggestions on which timeframe would work most conveniently for each student’s music class. Since classes are only once-per-week, we’ve found over the years that daytime integration doesn’t impact their other classroom learning. In fact, it’s ideal for students to have their weekly music class during their daytime mental and physical peak.
Since we’re expecting a high volume of students, and since we pair 2-3 students together for more social learning, please note that we’re not able to reserve specific days and times for individual students prior to registration. Rest assured that we’ll work with you and all other families to make sure there’s room for everyone to participate! No billing occurs until we’ve confirmed a workable weekly class time with your family.
Format – The classes are individualized and very hands on, which is the only way to learn an instrument. In the case of violin and guitar, classes are conducted in “pods” of a couple of kids together. After eight years of working with hundreds of students, we’ve found that this format is effective and socially engaging. It’s fun for students and allows us to use a whole tool box of peer-to-peer learning techniques. If piano is offered, classes are typically one-on-one with the teacher.
Summer Time – An entirely optional summer session is typically held with details forthcoming later this spring. While some students prefer to take a summer break and return to studies over the fall (this is entirely normal!), we’ll hold an optional summer session for those who really want to keep their fingers in shape.
Violin/Guitar is Included – The violin and guitar program includes the use of a rental instrument year round, so you don’t have to run around and rent one. Students will bring their instrument to school on class days and will have them at home the rest of the week. Each child gets an instrument sized perfectly for them. When they need the next size up (which usually is the case once per school year), we swap them out for a bigger one. We also cover any accidental damage like bows or strings breaking, which is surprisingly rare. Continued use of the instrument over the summer is free for students continuing on in the program the following year.
Why the Violin? – The violin is an ideal instrument to start on, especially for very young kids, because it’s proportionate in size to the child. It’s physically easier for them, as compared to a larger instrument, and less daunting. But even for older kids, it’s an ideal starting instrument to train their ear since they directly control which pitch the instrument makes — unlike piano or guitar, there are no frets or keys that automatically make the pitch for them.
Fun, Easy, & Doable – Our program is designed with very busy students and parents in mind! We provide step-by-step demonstration videos, making things doable for students and parents with no prior musical experience. Parents can view these private class video summaries, typically each week, conveniently on their mobile device or home computer. In addition, we maintain robust teacher communication and parent update reports to keep parents in the know.
Practicing is Easy – For most beginning students during their first year, marathon practicing at home is not needed! The core of their weekly learning happens in class. Regular at-home practicing becomes more important in the second and third years once they’re more independent with the instrument. During the first year, simple video summaries from the teacher will show you some easy ways to support your student’s learning, including at-home and in-the-car listening to the songs we’re learning. If the instrument is played for just 10 minutes a couple days a week, you’re going great! We’ll be there to help.
Our Approach – For violin, we use the Suzuki Method of instruction as the core of our curriculum. It’s proven to be one of the most effective ways of getting young kids to learn an instrument because it focuses on the learning strengths of the child, using imitation, repetition, and imagination. For guitar or piano, if offered, we’ll utilize several different method books depending on the age and skill level of the student.
Recitals – The program also includes performance opportunities for the kids to show off what they’ve learned in a non-pressure friends and family environment. We’ve seen it time and time again: kids just beam after they’ve shown off their new found skills on the instrument! It’s such a great thing for their development and self-identity as a young musician. We do a once-a-year recital in the spring, as well as other integrated events with the school as often as we can! (i.e. holiday concerts, show-and-tell, etc)
Monthly Budget Option – This option takes the annual tuition and divides it evenly into 9 monthly installments of $135. Installments are automatically processed on the 3rd of every month, October 3rd – June 3rd inclusive. These installments are processed automatically and conveniently for you each month!
Semestral and Annual Options – You can also opt for either 1 annual or 2 semestral installments. We are glad to offer a 3% discount for these consolidated plans! Annual installments are processed on October 3rd. Semestral installments are processed on October 3rd and February 3rd.
Sibling Discount – For families enrolling more than one child in the program, we offer a 10% sibling discount on the 2nd and 3rd children.
Materials – If your student occasionally needs a new music book, we’ll order that in for you and conveniently include it on your next installment. These are typically very inexpensive and infrequent. Instrument rental for violin and guitar programs is conveniently included at no additional cost.
Cost Comparison – Just as a frame of reference, compared to taking annual classes at a Suzuki studio outside of school, our tuition is typically several hundred dollars less expensive! And that’s even with the added convenience of our on-site classes at school. We really try to do everything we can to make it both as convenient and affordable as possible for parents.
Discontinuation – We like to work closely with parents and students to overcome any challenges. We’re all about teaching children how to stick with things and helping them experience the rewards when they do. We’ll make adjustments and remix things however we can to ensure each student is having a positive experience! We do ask that parents allow us to exercise due diligence to work through any challenges. After this due diligence and working together, we definitely leave room for parents to decide on discontinuation at no additional cost. In practice, though, this is exceptionally rare because our classes are fun and engaging!
Meet the Teacher!
Brandon Lewis – violin – Brandon Lewis is thrilled to be teaching piano in the community this year! Brandon is a graduate of Catholic University of America with a Bachelor of Music degree. He has taught instrumental music at Ingenuity Prep Charter School, Garfield Elementary School, Duke Ellington School of the Arts, and more. Brandon is highly organized and incredibly joyful music educator who is committed to helping your student thrive on the piano.
Brendan Lynch – piano and guitar – Brendan is a guitar and piano instructor and a DC area native. He recently moved back to the area after graduating from the University of South Carolina with a masters degree in performance on the classical guitar. While at the University of South Carolina Brendan held an assistant professor position for a Guitar 101 class. He earned his Bachelor of Arts from Guitar College while also performing internationally with the award winning Guilford Guitar ensemble. Since graduating Brendan has found his calling as a teacher and is very excited to be a part of the Music Kids faculty. In his spare time Brendan is a diehard DC sports fan and enjoys watching the Capitals and Nationals!