I met up with a friend who was working in France for a year in 2020. He plays the Sitar as a hobby and he continued honing his craft with a teacher even when he relocated temporarily to France. This gave him ample opportunities to interact with Musicians in France. From him, I learnt that Artists and Musicians are funded in France by the government to hone their craft and music.
From a typical pragmatic Singaporean’s perspective, the idea of funding musicians to “enjoy” their lives would probably send many marching towards Hong Lim park to protest.
Nevertheless, have we stopped for a moment to consider how does great art come about? When we went through lives darkest moments and trauma, did we hold on to our money for comfort and support or did we turn to music for solace?
In this article, these are the 3 questions or sub-topics that I will be discussing and sharing about:
- Can we put a price tag to Music Classes?
- The Pivotal Role of Music Classes in my early adulthood (Age 20 – 30)
- How to choose a suitable teacher/ school for your child?
1. Can we put a price tag to Music Classes?
As a child, my mum sent me to music classes because she heard from my aunt that learning music will make me better at Math. I would say that I had a love-hate relationship with my piano classes back then.
I loved the attention and encouragement that my music teacher gave me but I hated practising the instrument. Above all, I hated learning the scales and notes.
Little did I imagine, twenty years down the road, music was what I turned to when I went through my lowest and darkest period in my life thus far.
2. The Pivotal Role of Music Classes in my Early Adulthood (Age 20 – 30)
I was facing an early career crisis which dented my confidence level. No one seems to believe in my ability except for myself. Despite having an above average academic credentials in Singapore, these paper qualifications did not seem to cushion me when my confidence took a plunge.
There was no one that I could turn to for support, not even my parents whom I love and respect dearly. My dad, who has always been the pillar of my support, was appalled and disappointed with my career decisions. It took him 5 years to finally accept my decisions and you can find out more about my journey in this article.
I found my way back to music as a way to boost my own confidence level. If I could master the song, I believe I could do anything I set my mind to. I picked up the instrument 16 years later since I left it at 9 year old.
I found solace in playing the piano because it will never judge, abandon or reject me, unlike people. If I work hard enough, I will be rightfully rewarded with an invaluable sense of accomplishment and bewilderment!
I was able to play the piano even though I had hardly touch it in the 16 years that had past. This is how powerful our muscles’ memories are! They learnt and never forget. The many hours of intense practice are deeply encoded in us.
“I guess piano lesson was one of the best gift that my parents had bestowed to me when they could no longer be my cheerleader in life because they could not understand nor support my choices.”
A little about My Family Background
I grew up in a middle class family and the piano classes were a luxury that my parents could barely afford. In my mum’s words, they scrimp and save to send me and my brother for the enrichment classes. I think they would be very heartened to know that the piano classes had helped me in my life thus far, but I am not so sure about my brother.
Because of my own experience, I took on upon myself to suss out the best music classes in town that will meet every budget and expectation. Why am I spending so much time and energy on this? Perhaps, I am just getting ready for my own children’s learning journey.
3. How to choose a suitable teacher/ school for your child?
How much should you pay for your child’s music lessons? I think it is important for you to spend within your means. If you can afford it, go for the best because your children will become who they learn the craft from. Expect to pay an upward rate of S$120/ half hour lesson for the top-tier teachers.
If there is a budget constraint, you could consider starting with group lessons to test out the interest and aptitude of your children. You can find a list of music schools with updated rates here.
What are the characteristics of top-tier music teachers?
They would have a wealth of experience in the field and have coached many students that had performed publicly or contested in competitions.
Top-tier music teachers are highly sought-after and they usually grow their students’ base through words of mouth advertising. As time is a scare commodity, the top-tier teachers have to charge a premium to ensure that they could focus all their energy in honing the craft of their current students.
Why should you pay more for top-tier teachers?
The premium you are paying for is the wealth of experience and research that the teachers have put in over their careers to fine-tune their teaching methodologies. In the long run, you will probably enjoy cost-savings from the effectiveness of the classes which will help your child attain the highest grade within a shorter timeframe.
Your child will become who they learn from. If they learn from the best-in-class teachers, they would similarly be able to fetch a premium for their experience if they were to pursue music as a career in future.
What else should you consider?
Nevertheless, before you pour in big bucks to invest in your child’s music education, it is of paramount importance that you ascertain the interest and aptitude of your child. My brother hated the piano classes. Even till date, he would lament that he wished our parents had sent him to computing or robotics workshops instead.
The best way to ascertain the interest and aptitude of your child is to sign up your child for a trial class.
Now, I have come to realise that we are our biggest Cheerleaders. If you are destined to be doing something great, you will be misunderstood most of the time. To quote the words of one of my favourite author, Robin Sharma, “To lead in your field, You will have to learn to live with solitude most of the time.” Music may be one of the best way to enjoy and thrive in solitude.