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45 > 30: The math behind successful music lessons

meridee winters music method the math behind successful music lessons

At our flagship Pennsylvania music school, there are a few universal truths: 1) blue foam dice can make just about any activity fun 2) the Halloween Show is cuter than any cat video you can find on Youtube, and 3) standard lessons are forty-five minutes long.

The first two are self-explanatory, but sometimes people wonder why our policy includes a lesson length of 45 minutes for all students aged 7 and older. After all, if you can fit a sitcom in thirty minutes, why not a piano lesson?

The short answer is this: results. After offering twenty-five years of music instruction, we've found that 45-minute lessons yield far more than 50% better results (if you're doing the math). The difference is actually exponential.

Why are the results so different? Ask any of our teachers: a thirty minute lesson will give you enough time to cover the material, and perhaps throw in a game or activity, but always with an eye on the clock and little room to dig deeper. It's the "digging deeper," though, where some of the richest learning happens. With music, part of learning a difficult piece is isolating the toughest parts, analyzing them, working it until you've got it, and integrating it back in. That itself can be a timely endeavor.

A key educational concept in the Meridee Winters Music Method is also "Blooms Taxonomy of Higher Order Thinking." This concept explains that the highest levels of thinking happen when students analyze and create. We wholeheartedly believe that students should be applying what they've learned to create their own works. This, too, is not a process that is to be rushed. (The amazing results can be heard annually at our school’s Songwriters Showcase.)

The extra time also allows teachers to truly tailor lessons to a student's interest. "You like the chord progression from that song? You know what - let's chart it out! Can you think of your own song that goes with it?" This extra time is where you sketch your own practicing game in your Meridee Winters Homework book, or play hide and seek with Meridee Winters Flash Cards – finding the card and racing to the piano to play the note! It's where the "step beyond" from our slogan happens, and where connections are made.

So, we salute those sitcoms that are somehow able to fit a whole storyline into thirty minutes. We hear they've got a very specific formula. We also have our own formula for incredible lessons and great results, and it's that forty-five is most definitely greater than thirty.

 

Meridee Winters Flash Cards:
Meridee Winters Music Flash Cards
MW Homework Books:
Meridee Winters Music Homework Book and Practice Tracker

 

About Meridee Winters:

Meridee Winters is a professional educator, musician, author and director/owner of a successful Philadelphia area music school. 

Meridee began her journey as an educator teaching elementary students in a Florida public school, where she discovered the curriculum and school system left little room for divergence and creativity. She made the bold decision to leave and attend graduate school to study Music Composition, eventually starting her own private music school.

Today, that school has spent two decades introducing thousands of students to not just music, but to Meridee’s trailblazing method that encourages creativity, play and higher-level thinking with each lesson. 

As a composer and professional musician, Meridee has instructed at all levels ­– from professional recording artists working on albums to computer music classes in the recording studio, and from young beginners taking their first steps on their musical path to intermediate students writing their first songs. 

Meridee is a dedicated advocate of creative intelligence whose foremost passion is empowering creative and authentic self-expression in each individual. She now spends her time developing new materials and books to nurture these. She does her work as an author, as well as director of the school, from her home in Delaware County, PA. 

© 2017 Meridee Winters. All Rights Reserved.


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  • I like this so much :) :) :) I’m currently working on the f# minor nocturne! they’re beautiful pieces.
    Don’t get me wrong, you have to be strong and confident to be successful in just about anything you do – but with music, there’s a deeper emotional component to your failures and successes. If you fail a chemistry test, it’s because you either didn’t study enough, or just aren’t that good at chemistry (the latter of which is totally understandable). But if you fail at music, it can say something about your character. It could be because you didn’t practice enough – but, more terrifyingly, it could be because you aren’t resilient enough. Mastering chemistry requires diligence and smarts, but mastering a piano piece requires diligence and smarts, plus creativity, plus the immense capacity to both overcome emotional hurdles, and, simultaneously, to use that emotional component to bring the music alive.
    Before I started taking piano, I had always imagined the Conservatory students to have it so good – I mean, for their homework, they get to play guitar, or jam on their saxophone, or sing songs! What fun! Compared to sitting in lab for four hours studying the optical properties of minerals, or discussing Lucretian theories of democracy and politics, I would play piano any day.

    But after almost three years of piano at Orpheus Academy, I understand just how naïve this is. Playing music for credit is not “easy” or “fun” or “magical” or “lucky.” Mostly, it’s really freakin’ hard. It requires you to pick apart your piece, play every little segment over and over, dissect it, tinker with it, cry over it, feel completely lame about it, then get over yourself and start practicing again. You have to be precise and diligent, creative and robotic. And then – after all of this – you have to re-discover the emotional beauty in the piece, and use it in your performance.

    Biplab Poddar on

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