To Commit or Quit: A Six Part Introspective on Music Lessons


My name is Sean Ryan.  I’m a music educator, composer, music theorist, and conductor.  I’m the director of band and orchestra instrument studies with Music Notes Academy in East Brunswick New Jersey.  I also conduct the Glen Rock Pops and run Suggestion Vox with my friend and colleague Philip Vasta. I’ve been teaching band, orchestra, music appreciation and music theory for over ten years in both public and private schools in New Jersey.  I’ve worked with kids and adults of all ages.  Needless to say music isn’t only my career; it’s my life.  I eat, breathe and live music. 

In music education, it’s fascinating to see the similarities and differences between age groups when teaching music.  Every child learns differently and improves at different rates and see their interests’ peak at various times.  

As a music production, composition, and mixing studio, why are we having this discussion?  To plainly put it, Phil and I wouldn't be in the situation we're in now if it weren't for a solid and comprehensive devotion to music education.  This is an examination of the state of our craft.  Therefor the subject merits our full attention and yours as well.  

When a child quits, all the disparities from the wide gamut of musical participation funnel to the same dark and albeit, ignorant place.  It’s either because they’re not practicing, they’ve lost interest, it’s too expensive, they didn’t like the teacher, they have other activities or their schoolwork gets in the way.  These are all small excuses that are tantamount to four larger reasons. 

The one thing these four reasons have in common is that the parents are 99% of the time, the culprit behind their child’s exodus from music, despite what they might say about the teacher, the material or their child.  It makes sense being that they’re the ones driving their kids to and from music lessons, have to work at encouraging their children to practice, and have to pay for lessons.  It’s an investment that takes not days, weeks, months, or even a year to mature.  But years! Yes…plural.  Like five to eight years at least. 

So why do parents turn away from music education?

In my next installment, I’ll discuss the role of other subjects in school and how they help and hinder a child’s development with their music education.