Welcome to
The David Bailey Music Studio
Music Lessons

Contact me via e-mail for information on music lessons
if you live in (or will soon move to) the greater Nashua, New Hampshire area.
My wife, Alison Bailey, teaches Violin lessons, Viola lessons and Piano lessons.

The area our students come from includes the following towns
New Hampshire:
Amherst   Bedford   Brookline
Goffstown   Hollis   Hudson
Litchfield   Merrimack   Milford
Mount Vernon   Nashua   New Boston
Dracut   Dunstable   Pepperell
Townsend   Tyngsboro

Some Preliminary Points To Consider Concerning Music Lessons

Before beginning music lessons it is very helpful for the music student to have some sort of goal. For some students this goal is very broad, such as "I wish to play in the school band" or "I wish to play in the Hollis Town Band" or even simply "I wish to learn to play the trumpet." Other students have more specific goals, such as "I want to play Bugler's Holiday" or "I want to have my own rock band" or "I want to be able to play as well as my friend plays." It doesn't really matter if the goal is specific or general, but often it helps to have some sort of goal when starting to learn an instrument.

A very important consideration is the availability of an instrument. Instruments can be rented, they can be borrowed, they can be purchased, but it is important that an instrument be available for daily practice. In the case of complete beginners, it is very wise to speak with the teacher for advice on brands or types of instruments before buying something which won't be appropriate.

The music student should be willing to make a commitment of at least three months before deciding whether or not to continue. Any shorter time may not be sufficient for the student to overcome initial obstacles to find out if he or she truly enjoys playing the instrument.

Once teacher recommendations have been gotten, you shouldn't just sign up for lessons without some follow up.
A personal interview is very helpful and most music teachers are willing to meet with prospective
music students and their families to see if it will be a good fit.
It won't matter how glowing the recommendations are --
if there is a personality conflict a different teacher will be needed.

Before beginning music lessons it is very helpful for the music student to have some sort of goal. For some students this goal is very broad, such as "I wish to play in the school band" or "I wish to play in the Hollis Town Band" or even simply "I wish to learn to play the trumpet." Other students have more specific goals, such as "I want to play Bugler's Holiday" or "I want to have my own rock band" or "I want to be able to play as well as my friend plays." It doesn't really matter if the goal is specific or general, but often it helps to have some sort of goal when starting to learn an instrument.

Business Aspects of Music Lessons

Learning to play an instrument is a commitment, both of time and of money. The music teacher is a professional who is making the time available for your lessons and who also depends on the income from your lessons to survive. It is important to realize that starting music lessons isn't the same as going to a local department store and buying a certain number of something. You are paying the teacher to keep the weekly lesson time available for you, and thus it is necessary to pay for that weekly lesson time whether you are there or not. Since nobody likes to pay for something they can't take advantage of, it is very important to be sure that the weekly lesson is scheduled for a time you can make. Most teachers are willing, if their schedules will allow, to make adjustments from time to time, especially when given plenty of advance notice, but paying for music lessons doesn't mean that you have purchased X number of lesson slots that you get to take advantage of whenever you feel like it. It isn't fair to call up in the morning and say that you can't make it to the lesson that afternoon and expect the teacher to be able to give you a makeup lesson.
  • Payments need to be made when scheduled.
  • Lesson times are appointments which need to be kept.
  • Instruments and music are the responsibility of the students and their families. Don't expect the teacher to provide them.
  • Most music teachers have policies they will spell out for you regarding payments and also regarding any makeups which may be offered. Many teachers have their policies printed and will give you a copy. Be sure you understand your teacher's policy in advance. If the teacher doesn't offer a printed copy of their policies, feel free ask the teacher for one.
  • Instruments and music are necessary for a lesson. Don't show up without one or the other. Certain other activities, such as ensemble playing, which some music teachers offer also require a music stand so be sure to bring one when involved in such an activity.
  • Music teachers love what they do but they are trying to make a living at it and that means being paid for making the scheduled time available.
  • What is being paid for is a scheduled time, not a fixed number of lessons. Missing a lesson doesn't automatically guarantee a makeup lesson. Consider it in the same light as a private school -- if a student misses a day, that student doesn't get an additional day of school to make up for it, nor does that student get a refund for one day's tuition.

What Students have a Right to Expect of their Music Teachers

The commitment to the lessons needs to be as important to the teacher as it is to the student. Teachers owe their students certain things in exchange for the trust the students show in placing their musical education in that teacher's hands:
  • Students have a right to be respected.
  • Students have a right to be treated kindly.
  • Students have a right to expect their teacher to be available at the scheduled time. Occasionally other musical duties or illness can interfere but good teachers will be sure the students are informed of such conflicts well in advance.
  • Students have a right to be taught properly and in a manner which works well for the student.
  • Students have a right to ask questions and to expect answers. Good teachers won't just say "because I said so." Good teachers will explain the reasons for what they are asking the student to do.

What To Do When A Student Has Problems With A Music Teacher

Problems can sometimes arise between a teacher and a student and can quite often be worked out simply by having one or the other raise the issue and discuss it.
  • The student can ask the teacher to try a different approach if the current one isn't working out.
  • The student can ask to work on different material if the current material is either presenting insurmountable obstacles or otherwise is not particularly acceptable.
  • The student needs to feel free to speak (or have a parent speak for them) to the teacher if the student is having a difficult time. It is hard to be a mind reader, and while good teachers try to be aware of how their students feel about the lessons it isn't always obvious. Often what might have become an unpleasant situation for the student can be cleared up with a single remark which makes things obvious to the teacher.

How to find a teacher in your area

  • Ask your friends and neighbors for recommendations.
  • Ask your local school music teachers either for recommendations or to see if they might give lessons themselves.
  • Ask at a local music store. Some offer music lessons right at the store and others are usually glad to recommend outside teachers for lessons they don't offer at the store.
  • Check the yellow pages in your local telephone directory.
  • Check the want-ads in your local newspaper.
  • Check with national organizations -- certain teaching methods have directories of their member teachers broken down by state and local community to make finding a teacher easier. The Suzuki Association of America is one such group, where violin, viola, cello, piano, flute, or guitar teachers who use the Suzuki method can be located.
  • Be willing to look outside your immediate community if you are having difficulty in locating a teacher. Sometimes you might have to drive to a nearby community to find a teacher.

Some things to look for in a teacher:

1) Knowledgeable and competent on the instrument – top level professional performance ability is not necessary. Many excellent performers are terrible teachers and many excellent teachers have students who go far beyond them in artistic success. On the other hand, a teacher who knows very little about the instrument being taught can easily let bad habits form without realizing it. Ask for recommendations from others you know who are studying the same instrument in order to find a competent teacher.

2) Kindness towards the student – it is important that a teacher be able to teach with kindness, correcting errors in a positive way without making the student feel bad. Everybody makes mistakes when learning an instrument, even the teachers did when they were first beginning, but the ability to turn a mistake into a positive teaching moment is an important aspect of a good teacher, especially one who works with beginners of any age.

3) A desire to help the student play the music that is important to him or her – an otherwise excellent teacher may feel that playing the music of Bach is the highest goal of musical achievement and should be what every student aims for, but if a student wants to play jazz flute instead of Bach, then perhaps that teacher isn't the best teacher for that student. A good teacher should be well-rounded and willing to help guide the student towards the music that is important to the student. A wise teacher will also be able to open other musical doors to that student along the way so that perhaps an interest in Bach might develop also, but it does nobody any good to force a student into playing music that, for whatever reason, doesn't speak to that student.

4) Flexibility in approach – not all students learn the same way and a good teacher is able to alter the methods by which an instrument is taught in order to meet the needs of the student. Finding different teaching materials, introducing new notes or techniques in varied sequences for different students is important. While most teachers are very comfortable using certain materials and teaching methods which have worked for them with a large number of their students over the years, good teachers are always looking for new ways to help students overcome hurdles.

5)A vision for the future – for many young music students, especially those in a school band program, playing an instrument is something that one does while in school, and has no purpose beyond school. A good teacher will help students develop a vision that music can be a lifelong endeavor, providing much richness to life long after school is ended. Making sure students are aware of community music groups involving their instruments is one such way. The students need to know early on that they don't have to plan to be a professional musician to get a lifetime of enjoyment from playing music. Those who will continue on to study music in college and perhaps become professionals will know that's what they want to do when the time comes, but anybody who starts to learn an instrument deserves to know early on that they can get a lifetime of enjoyment from it as a hobby.

Adult Music Students

Adults who either return to studying an instrument or who have always wanted to learn to play an instrument and are finally able to make the time to do so are a very special sort of student. Special in that they are making a great effort to pursue this musical study, and also special in that non-musical demands on them are usually quite extensive. Modern adult students are already busy people adding yet another thing to their lives.

Learning an instrument as an adult can be a wonderful thing but there is one thing each adult beginner needs to think about and to absorb: “You must think like a young school student as you learn to play the instrument.” You will sound like a young beginner, you will have the same frustrations as a young beginner, you will advance at roughly the same rate as a young beginner, and you will be able to take the same pride in your accomplishments that a young beginner takes. Which means you have to look at your musical progress as if you were a young beginner.

Adults often have a hard time of this, for several reasons:

1) Adults know what a professional on that instrument sounds like and they want to sound that great, too; youngsters quite often have no idea what a professional sounds like on a particular instrument – they're just playing because their friend plays the instrument.

2) Adults see other adults playing the instrument and wonder why they can't play it as easily – youngsters see adults playing the same instrument and they think “Of course they're supposed to be good, they're ADULTS! I'm just a kid, I'm not supposed to sound like that.” Adult beginners can adopt that same thought, to good advantage, by thinking “Of course I don't sound like a professional performer, I'm just a beginner!” Constantly reminding themselves of this can remove a source of frustration.

3) Adults have a clear objective of what they want to be able to accomplish on the instrument – youngsters just know they're supposed to practice the next assignment, and aren't really aware as they get better with each passing year until they can play quite difficult music they wouldn't have believed possible when they began.

4) Adults have mastered many things in their lives, some quite easily, and they get frustrated when an instrument doesn't come as easily as a lot of other things – youngsters are just learning how to master things and each new step is a wonderful achievement for them.

5) Adults are professional in their employment and take pride in maintaining a professional image and in achieving professional results. It is often hard for adults to accept anything less than a professional result in anything they do – youngsters don't have the same intangible concept of “professional results.” Youngsters are often quite happy simply to have the teacher compliment them.

6) The body/mind connection and coordination which music requires is not usually tapped in the same way in other areas of adult life. For children, this isn't anything special because so much of what they do is teaching them new connections between mind and body, but for adults this can be a challenge.

Adults have several obstacles in their way, none of which is insurmountable but must be understood in advance in order to have as little impact on an adult student's progress as possible:

  • Work demands
  • Family demands
  • Home maintenance/repair/improvement
Often these demands fluctuate in how much time they require of a person, and this can lead to great frustration when it interferes with lesson times or with practice time. Practicing for 10-15 minutes, if done every day, can help a student continue to progress through days or weeks when a more traditional half-hour of practice isn't possible. Even 5 minutes, if used wisely on a daily basis, can keep a student from slipping backwards musically. The concept of “I have to practice for 30 minutes!” can lead to great frustration. A good teacher will understand the demands on an adult student's time and won't always expect the same amount of weekly practice. The teacher can help the adult student minimize frustration and maximize effective use of any available time. Adult students may also need to realize that time may need to come from other personal activities and they may need to prioritize practice over watching TV, playing computer games or spending time online, etc., as do students of all ages.

All of these obstacles can be overcome if the adult student and the music teacher keep things in proper perspective: Music is supposed to be an enrichment of life, not a frustration. Do the best you can with the time you have available, and progress will be made. Don't expect to sound like a professional performer in 6 months. You may never sound like a professional performer and that's perfectly acceptable. You will find your own level of musical involvement which will provide you with great satisfaction, as long as you are flexible in your goals.

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