On the fence about continuing in music?
Our "Dear Parents Letter" may help!
Dear parents of 8th graders looking ahead to Medfield High School, or any other grade for that matter
(and it’s still not too late – there’s flexibility with deadline)...
We know that deciding between electives is an especially challenging decision. Those of us in MMA have seen
our own kids struggle with it, and we’ve heard much decision-making angst from parents and students too.
If you’ve had an older child go through the grades, you know what we mean. The schedule only allows for a
small number of electives (out of so many) and admittedly, music is a big commitment.
The MMA periodically conducts surveys to get a sense of how the program has impacted students, and
as part of that, we've specifically asked, “Why choose music as an elective?”
Regardless of how we ask the questions, feedback on the benefits of continuing in the music program
has been consistent between both students and parents over the years. If anything, support for music
education has gotten stronger due to increased awareness about the social-emotional benefits participation in
the program provides.
These student quotes in particular provide a great summary of the most common feedback we hear:
“You can still take electives later (high school, college)...it's something that you will have time for, but
it's not as easy to rejoin band or start playing your instrument again."
"It has shaped my high school experience, and my best high school memories are associated with
the music program."
"If you continue in the program, I can guarantee that you will learn life-long skills for success that cannot be
learned in a normal classroom environment, and make life-long friendships.”
In addition, here are overall results from the 2016 MHS music parent survey:
97% said their children’s self-esteem benefited from being in the music program
94% said their children received social benefits from music
94% said their children experienced academic benefits from the program (not just grades, but overcoming
learning challenges, gaining life skills, etc.)
91% said their children received emotional benefits (stress/anxiety relief, improved moods, etc.)
77% said music program participation helped with college acceptances or employment prospects
67% believed being part of the music program helped their son/daughter avoid or reduce drug/alcohol use
Other notable parent and student quotes about the MHS music program:
“It takes work, but it's a challenge I never get tired of. It takes commitment, but it's beyond worth it. Also know
that there's no reason to think you’re not good enough."
“Having buddies in upper grades gives a huge boost in confidence socially for the younger kids. Starting high
school is a lot less intimidating when you already know a lot of older kids at the school.”
“There is a sense of belonging to a group – camaraderie – bonding, with that comes decreased anxiety and
“Both of my sons would have missed out on the opportunity to be a part of great group of peers - a group devoid
of peer pressures and bullying, but instead full of acceptance, and positive energy and ambition.”
“Not only is it a great way to improve in playing your instrument, you meet awesome people that become like family
throughout your high school experience.”
On behalf of the entire MMA team, we sincerely hope to see your son or daughter continue in the music program
next year. Especially during adolescent years, being a part of something – anything – is incredibly important,
and whether it’s for building musical skills, gaining a strong sense of community, tapping into a creative outlet, or
for releasing stress, the music program -- especially at MHS and Blake -- is a great option to consider.
If you have questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to your student's music teacher or to MMA representatives.
You can send a note to and we'll make sure it gets to the right person.
It’s all about building confidence & speeding up success!
Similar to learning math or a foreign language, learning music requires multiple building steps that take time,
consistent effort and patience.
“Every student has the ability to develop musical skills that will benefit them their entire life. Our biggest goal
as teachers is not to produce professional musicians, but to help students find lifelong joy and
fulfillment in music,” said Music Director Doug Olsen.
Shortening the learning curve
No teacher will ever say learning music is easy! But an investment in private lessons can shorten the
learning curve, build greater self-confidence, and reduce frustrations along the way.
Based on a recent survey of our high school music students, there’s much to be gained from private lessons.
Out of 166 students, 100 responded from across Band, Choir and Orchestra. Of those, 87% have taken
private lessons for at least one year at any point in their life. Most of those students (62%) started while in
Dale Street or Blake Middle School.
What were the biggest benefits? Of our MHS students who responded to the survey:
92% said private lessons helped them learn or improve musical abilities faster
64% said lessons helped them learn/improve practice techniques
51% said private lessons provided extra help/preparation for music tests or auditions
37% said lessons built self-confidence
27% said lessons created personal connections to their private lesson teachers
More than 60 MHS students across all three programs also provided comments, including these:
“I’ve had an incredible experience. Before beginning private lessons, I was not confident in my playing abilities and felt too scared to continue music in school. My goal was gaining self confidence and overcoming fear of playing with others, since I was too embarrassed to really play in class. However, when I started private lessons and learned how to properly practice, I became more comfortable playing in school.”
“My teacher is like my best friend who boosts me up when I need it, and also is honest when I need some work. I have learned to listen to others, and accept criticism. I have grown greatly as a musician, but also as a person. Once you work so hard at something, the payoff is 10x better!”
“I'm given little tips and tricks every week to improve my breath control, pronunciation, sight-reading, resonance, self-confidence, and so much more. And not only do I learn the techniques, I find myself actually applying them…I have learned so much and I’m constantly recommending to friends who enjoy singing to take lessons. My voice teacher has helped me find what types of songs best suit my voice and has given me the opportunity to explore all kinds of music.”
“I have had a very fun and learning experience taking lessons. It has really helped me with my understanding of music and improving on skills every day. This has helped me in the jazz band, and when I have someone who isn’t as skilled as I am, I am available to help them and teach them.”
“I wouldn’t be in music without private lessons – they kept my options open for a year while I was navigating a tough class schedule conflict. It was my private lessons that allowed me to jump back into the program the following year without too much stress or difficulty.”
Overcoming time and peer hurdles
For younger students still trying to get up to speed on their instruments and learn increasingly challenging music, even just 30 minutes a week in a private lesson can make a big difference in a student’s learning curve and self confidence, said one teacher.
“The time spent with an outside teacher will pay off in multiple ways now and later on -- especially with regard to overall enjoyment of music. And music is its own language – once it’s learned, you have it for life,” shared another.
For students at Blake, where music only meets twice a week, a private lesson teacher in 6th, 7th or 8th grade can often help students navigate the tricky adolescent years when peers can heavily influence their decision to continue or drop out of music. Medfield High School students hired as private lesson teachers can be especially valuable during this time because they remember what it was like to be in middle school, and they can talk about the payoffs if the student sticks with the music program.
During the middle school and high school years, Olsen noted that students are encouraged to seek out private lessons to help them reach their own personal goals. “We have a lot of self-motivated students who want to be the best they can be, and they’re learning how private lessons can get them there,” he said.
What makes our students go the extra mile? Fundamentally, it’s because our students have gotten hooked on music! Private lessons simply provide a faster, smoother route to all the enjoyment and fulfillment that music offers.
Interested in private lessons? Getting support? Check out Medfieldmusic.com -- the Medfield Music Department site.
Reasonably priced private lessons are offered through the Medfield Music Department, and oftentimes school music staff members can help with identifying teachers outside the formal program, including high school students. Parents interested in learning more are
encouraged to reach out to their child’s in-school Medfield music teacher.
For families seeking financial support, the MMA offers fall needs-based private lesson "Spirit of Music" scholarships, and students in grades 6-12 are encouraged to apply in the fall.
Catch a video clip!
Medfield is fortunate to have many professional musicians and highly regarded music educators as residents. Click here for a glimpse of Medfield’s own Paul Alberta, retired Norwood Fine Arts Director for 39 years, statewide music education leader, and private lesson
teacher, during his impromptu visit with the Jazz Band sax section recently.