If your family is trying to keep expenses low this back to school season, it may seem like signing your kids up for another year of music lessons simply won’t fit in the budget. But what if there was a way to invest in quality music education for your children, and stick to a tight budget this year? In Edmonton? Is that really possible?
As Brandy Dominelli, Owner of Dominelli School of Music explains, affordable music lessons in Edmonton might not be so hard to come by after all.
“When our students can play their first song and share that with their friends and family, that a big deal” - Brandy Dominelli, Dominelli School of Music
Understand the Advantages of Music Lessons
Before you add any expenses to your budget, it’s helpful first to see the value of that expense. For Dominelli, the biggest advantage of enrolling your kids in music lessons is helping them develop self-confidence.
“When our students can play their first song and share that with their friends and family, that’s a big deal,” she says. “Everyone learns music at a different pace, but regardless of the pace that you’re learning the music or what instrument you choose, you’re going to build a level of self esteem that you can carry with you throughout life.”
Another advantage of music lessons is that it helps children brain development, not only musically but with non-musical tasks. According to Parenting Science “kids assigned to receive musical training developed distinctive neural responses to music and speech, evidence of more intense information processing that was linked with improvements in the discrimination of pitch and the segmentation of speech”. Enrolling your child(ren) in music is an excellent way to train and develop their brain.
Consider Workshops or Group Lessons
One of the first options Dominelli recommends to families on a tight budget is to consider signing their kids up for group lessons rather than one-on-one sessions. Not only are group lessons less expensive, she explains, they can also be excellent for beginners, and are a great venue for fostering a sense of collaboration between students.
Another option in place of weekly one-on-one lessons is to look for music workshops in your community. These could be summer camps, or programs that operate throughout the year at places like community centres and after school care centres.
The City of Edmonton, for example, offers group lessons and workshops such as group piano lessons, music and movement courses, and even Music with Baby programs for parents and children up to 24 months. These courses usually run for around three months at a time, and registration fees range from $105 to $145 per child. You can find out more about these programs through the City of Edmonton’s Parks and Recreation Department.
Keep an Eye Out for Deals Online
Music schools, like many other businesses, are keen to promote themselves online, and many schools like Dominelli’s and others will make use of sites like Groupon and Living Social that offer online coupon deals. This can be a great way for beginners to try out lessons for the first time at a discounted price.
Dominelli also mentions that her school will often hold free instructional events in the community. You can find out about these types of events by keeping an eye on local blogs, and following local music schools on social media.
Find an Aspiring Music Teacher at Your Local College or University
If you want to look outside of the regular music school route, find a college or university music student who teaches lessons. Most post-secondary music students who are hoping to enter the teaching profession after they graduate they are eager to gain teaching experience, and many will offer lessons at affordable rates. Music students may not be fully certified teachers yet, but they are talented individuals who enjoy passing on the love of music to younger generations.
You can find music students who teach lessons by browsing message boards on sites like Kijiji and Craigslist, or by visiting your local college or university in person and browsing the bulletin boards there. Some schools may even have lists available through the music department office of students who offer lessons.
Take Advantage of Tax Credits and Subsidies
Through the Government of Canada’s Children’s Arts Tax Credit, Canadian parents can claim up to $500 on their tax return for each child under 16 who participated in music lessons in the previous tax year. Your child is eligible is they take regular lessons from a private instructor, or even if they attend summer camps or workshops that involve a significant music education portion.
To claim the Children’s Arts Tax Credit, make sure you keep all of your receipts so you know how much to claim, and also so you can prove that your child was enrolled in lessons should the Canada Revenue Agency ever come knocking on your door. You can learn more about the Children’s Arts Tax Credit at http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/artscredit/.
Additionally, if your family has one parent who stays at home or works less than 20 hours per week, Dominelli recommends taking a look at the Alberta Stay at Home Parents Subsidy to see if your family is eligible for additional funding.
Discuss Your Options with the Business Owner
No matter what your financial situation is, Dominelli says, the best approach is always to talk to the business owner and explain your situation.
“As a family business, we work with our parents,” Dominelli says. “Depending on the child’s age and […] how far they are into their lessons, we can fine-tune a plan for them to make sure that it’s affordable,” she says.
Since music educators understand the importance of music in a child’s life, most are willing to work with parents to make sure their child can enjoy the benefits of music education, no matter what the parent’s economic situation is. Dominelli School of Music even has their own subsidy program where they will subsidize the cost of a full year of lessons for one student who otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford them. “There’s always a way to make sure that each child gets music,” Dominelli says.