Frequently Asked Questions

At what age should my child start music lessons? Which Instrument will be the best for a beginner?

Several factors determine the right age for starting music lessons. The development of physical muscle co-ordination is important in order to master the different musical instruments and therefore we advise that beginners do not start with wind instruments and guitars. The piano is the best instrument to start with (even the keyboard) at the age of 5. If you do not own a piano and do not want to purchase one right away, they can practice on a keyboard to start with. It is not advisable to do that in the long term though, as the keyboard requires a lighter touch and will affect muscle development and control of the fingers. It then does become important that the child can practice on a piano to develop the correct stroke.

Is there any academic value in taking music lessons?

There have been numerous studies in this regard with exciting findings. According to a recent study music lessons improve the kids’ brain development and memory. Click Link

May adults take music lessons?

The mastering of an instrument is not the exclusive privilege of the young. We tutor many adults, starting as beginners with no knowledge of music, who then goes on to complete their music exams. They find a tremendous pleasure in the music. Adult students qualify for the same acknowledgements as our Prestige Year-end Function.

Does a student need to own their instrument in order to take music lessons?

To take music lessons without having an instrument to practice on is not really practical. It would frustrate both student and teacher as the student is not just required to learn to read music, but need to physically practice the muscle control and co-ordination in mastering an instrument. Instead of purchasing an instrument, several rental options are also available on request.

At which venue should I enrol?

We accept students at all venues, but bear in mind that there is no drum tuition available in Hopefield as yet. It might become available as the demand increases.

Why should the student do Music Theory?

It is near impossible to master an instrument without any theoretical background or knowledge. Students are not required to do music theory to an advanced level, except, of course, if they consider taking Music as a subject later. We recommend that all students pass a least Grade 1 Theory of Music in order to understand the basic principles of music. Statistics has shown that the basic knowledge of Music Theory facilitates and speeds up the process of mastering an instrument.

For what period of time should a student take music lessons?

The student is the one who will answer this question, as each has a unique ability and desire. Many students enjoy the challenge of a new grade, to see how they progress. They discover that there really is no end to the learning process. As students become more intensely involved in music study and practice, they become aware of how multifaceted music is. Different instruments have different challenges and as they progress, different styles of music, variety and techniques become available for study. Some are happy to just acquire the basic knowledge and play for their own pleasure. For the more adventurous, the possibilities are endless. Student can advance to the highest level, participate in external International Graded Exams up to Grade 8, or take Music as School subject in a style of their choice. Thereafter they can participate in Diploma Exams in the different areas.

When is a student ready to participate in Orchestra / Ensemble play?

As soon as the student masters the basic notes and techniques, they can become involved in Ensemble play. We recommend that they become involved as sooner rather than later, as it develops them rhythmically as well as their intonation. And besides – kids love nothing better than playing together, making music! We make a point to write parts for beginners so that they too can be part of an Ensemble!

Should a student participate in an Orchestra/Ensemble?

It is a privilege for any student to play together in a group. As mentioned, not only does Ensemble play increase rhythmical and musical playing, as well as the correct intonation, phrasing and breathing, it also requires discipline to work together in a group and to interpret the music according to the conductor’s instructions. Discipline is an important aspect in the development of Music.

Do you recommend participation in Music Exams? Can kids just take music for fun?

It is not compulsory for students to participate in External Music exams. Several students take music lessons for their own pleasure, and are satisfied by the fact that they are not exposed to the pressure of performing, and develop at their own pace.

In our experience these students’ skills are not always up to standard as they are not working with a specific goal in mind. To practise is then not as important, and therefore their progress is slow. Gradually they lose momentum and then stop. They also don’t qualify for any Participation Credits awarded during our Prestige Year-end Function. This normally leads students to change their minds about Exams when they realise that they too could have qualified for an award!

It has been proven that students who practice with a goal in mind, is more focussed, disciplined and make good progress in general. Some of our pre-schoolers themselves chose to participate in Exams, as well as our oldest student which was 73 years of age! The word ‘Exam’ can be intimidating to a student, but we have learned not to make a big deal of it. We tell students that they will “play” for somebody so that they too can get a Certificate at the Prestige Year-end function, and a Medal!. The kids are then very excited at the prospect and it becomes a positive experience.

We have found that students are more musically mature after their first exam, and can’t wait to continue with the next exam. As long as there is a degree of healthy competition amongst the students, it motivates them to develop to their full potential. It is very important for Teachers and especially Parents, not to emphasise the percentage achieved in the exam, but rather be proud of their actual participation and as such to motivate them to continue.

Besides the fact the participation in examinations encourages continued progress, especially in the younger child, it is also a pre-requisite to take music as a subject in Secondary School.

We encourage students, especially the young, to study a variety of styles. We thus encourage students to participate in exams, but will never force a child if he/she does not feel ready.

When is a child ready to participate in an Exam?

It is important to ensure that the student is both musically as well as emotionally ready to enter an exam. The instrument plays a role as well as the type of exam considered. As parents we welcome your input and views in this regard, and as teachers we ask that you will trust and respect our experience in this regard!

Can a student take music as a subject? Where? What is the advantages if any?

Music Students can take music as a subject in School up to Grade 12, provided that they are up to the prescribed standard at the end of Grade 9 (contact us for more info about this). Music is an equal status subject for University Exemption and can be taken as one of the 7 subjects. To take 2 music subjects (2 or more instruments), or for information about the different options available, contact us for an appointment so that we can discuss the various options in detail.

Music is available as a Choice Subject from Grade 10, but in several schools children are allowed to specialise earlier and can take music as subject already from Grade 7 or 8. Contact your school for more information or contact us to assist you.

We offer Music as a Subject in various schools, on a private basis. If your school does not offer music as subject – you can register your child with us and then we offer the subject on behalf of the school. At Hopefield High School and Curro Langebaan we offer music as subject during the normal school hours, but at all other schools (Including home school students) we offer music as subject after hours at any of our Music Rooms. We will contact your child’s school and make sure that they are supplied with all the necessary information.

The advantage of taking Music as a subject is, that your child has the privilege to practice his hobby as a subject, which then allows them the time for it. We find that from Grade 10 onwards, those who take music only as a hobby, eventually cannot continue with it as there is just not enough time available.

Does the Academy offer any post-matric qualifications?

Yes, the students can participate in accredited Diploma Exams. Should you require more information, please contact us directly.

Is a student acknowledged for participation and successes achieved during the year?

The West Coast Music Academy hosts an annual Prestige Year-end event where all students are acknowledged according to effort and achievement. We annually award certificates, medals and trophies to our students; from our top achievers right down to our beginners. All gets public recognition for their individual effort and achievement. The WCMA is well-known for its incredible achievements at the Various External International Music Examination Boards as well as all the Eisteddfods in this Region. On top of this recognition– all exam and eisteddfod results are forwarded to the students’ individual school where they get more acknowledgement and often awards from the school itself.

Can I choose a specific tutor for my child?

If there is more than one teacher offering that specific instrument, then there is generally a choice. If the student prefers another teacher over the one he/she has, they are welcome to contact us in this regard to facilitate a switch-over. Take into account that, although we would do our best to facilitate such requests, if would be subject to teacher availability at a venue as well as established time-tables. It is important that the synergy between teacher and student is optimal and as such we will to our best to accommodate all within limits.

How would I know how my child is developing/progressing?

We are in constant discussion with parents with regards to the progress of their children. If your child regularly doesn’t practise or do homework, we will contact you forthwith! It is important that you as parent are aware of your child’s progress so that they can get the necessary encouragement from you. We will arrange an appointment with you, should it be necessary. We request that the parents attend a lesson now and then, especially for the younger students, so that they can understand the correct way to approach and assist their child’s progress. The various performance opportunities and Exam results will also be an indication how your child is progressing. If you still feel that your child is not progressing satisfactorily, feel free to contact us for an appointment to discuss it.

Are the Music Examinations acknowledged in other regions – if we should relocate?

All the Music examinations that our students enter are accredited and recognised nationally and internationally. The student will receive full recognition – irrespective of where he/she would relocate to. All other performances and results will also be forwarded to the new school. As soon as you become aware that you might relocate, you should contact us, so that we can change exam arrangements that students might have been entered for. We can also advise students of the best Music schools and/or Teachers in the new area.

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