Helping Your Child Succeed in Music

Developing Habits for Success

Welcome to the instrumental program at Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake Central Schools. Starting an instrument is a great addition to the educational program of your child. Getting off to a good start and developing lasting good habits on the instrument are vital to your son or daughter’s success. Please read the following guidelines that may help you work with your instrumental student over the course of this beginning period.


  • Set a routine for daily practice. A period before dinner, after homework, or after school will help the student get into this important routine.
  • Practice time should be 20 minutes each day, six days a week. (This will not apply to the first one or two lessons.) Practice time will increase as the student moves through the program to high school. 20 minutes is a base minimum.
  • Students who practice less than this most likely will not experience success.
  • Make sure there is a designated place for your child to practice that is free from distractions. A music stand in a bedroom works well.
  • Encourage practice, not play through with mistakes. Students need to learn to practice what they have problems with, not what they can play at sight.
  • Practice requires repetition. If there are things that do not come after a few days of practice, help your child to not get frustrated. There will be lessons, or segments of lessons that will be repeated for two to three weeks. Most problems encountered will go away after repetition.
  • It is very important that students come to each lesson prepared. Students who miss lessons or who have not practiced will fall behind. One missed lesson or week of practice can be overcome but two or three will put the student behind the group. These are group lessons that move at the pace of the group. This is quite different from a private lesson where the student moves at his or her own pace. As students progress through the program, lesson groups are arranged to put students in groups that move at a pace that reflects the student’s ability.
  • Please fill out the weekly progress chart. This helps parents, students, and teachers keep track of progress and alerts students to areas that need attention during practice sessions.

Protecting the Musical Instrument

  • If your child’s instrument breaks, do not attempt to fix it. Many times a home repair will complicate the repair and end up costing more. If an instrument breaks, bring it to the instrumental teacher or the Fine Arts office in the high school and we can evaluate what needs to be done.
  • Remind students to put their instrument away after each use. Instruments left on furniture or on the floor are at great risk of being broken.
  • Try to keep siblings from playing with instruments. Many broken instruments are a result of experimentation by other family members.
  • The brands of instruments we suggest on our handouts at Instrument Recruitment Night were put there because they have been shown to be quality instruments that require little service. Other instruments of lesser quality may be less expensive, but may require more repairs during their life. Please consider this if you get to the point where you plan to rent to own. You do not want to end up owning an inexpensive instrument that needs constant repair.

Band and Orchestra

Not all beginning students will join their school band this year. Students who are ready and can play the materials required for band will enter in February. All students will enter band as fifth grade students. We feel that entrance to band before the child is ready can be very discouraging. String students will enter orchestra for the December concert as they will by ready to perform on the open strings at this time.

In conclusion, we hope you have a great experience in our program. Many children will graduate from high school and relate to us that the music program was the most rewarding part of their education. We hope that you and your child have a similar experience. Should you have questions at any time please contact your child’s teacher or the Fine Arts Department chairperson.