Popular Questions

Frequently asked questions from students and parents.

How to Choose a Music School (5)

Which music school is right for me?
Picking the right music school can be daunting, with the plethora of educational centres available in Singapore. Still, here are some simple ways to decide:

1. What is your budget?
While we wouldn't say that the more expensive schools have better courses or instructors, it is a fact that fee structures vary from school to school. It is therefore crucial for you to pick a school within your budget, so that your lessons will have long-term continuity, instead of risking dropping out later, as this wastes both money and effort. Choosing right ensures your music journey stays bright!

2. Where do you live or work?
This should be fairly easy to decide. However, we have firsthand seen students give up on lessons due to travelling time. It's understandable - after a long hard day at work or school, you need to travel some distance for music lessons, then try to focus and stay awake for the music lesson, and then travel a long way home again. So, be realistic about your travel and rest time. Pick a music school that caters to your travel and rest patterns to ensure learning longevity and focus. Regardless of weekends or weekdays, you'll need a school that fits into your activities!

3. Instructors
This may cancel out question 2 above - because some instructors are worth travelling for. If the schools near you simply don't have the right instructors, then don't waste your time on them either - because you'll not be learning the right stuff. As for the question on identifying a great instructor, please read our next section, on "What makes a good music teacher?".

What makes a good music teacher?
There are many qualities that define a great music instructor. Of course, traits like "patience" and "creativity" are crucial, but these aren't what you can discover without first going through a lesson with that instructor. Therefore, we've decided to focus on qualities that can be determined by reading up on an instructor's profile, watching his or her performance on Youtube, or a simple phonecall. While by no means an exhaustive list, these are the few core factors we've picked:

1. Performance / Gig / Concert Experience
At The Music Lab, we believe that live gigging is of extreme importance - nothing tests a musician like an actual live performance, where the situation is dynamic and anything can happen. A good instructor with performance experience understands versatility, band dynamics and knows how to achieve chemistry. An instructor that possesses only a certificate with no practical experience, unfortunately, tends to teach with a one-dimensional method. This becomes evident when the student goes for a recording or performance - and the playing frequently misses a beat or consistently becomes off-time. Not only that - the student fails to listen to the band and does not know how to communicate musically. This will frustrate fellow bandmates and cause the band to not achieve tightness, whether in sound or in relationship.

2. Music Theory Knowledge
While the instructor doesn't have to be an academic genius in music theory, it is of paramount importance that he or she knows and understands it. Put it this way - if you only went after riffs, flashy chops and playing techniques, once you're done with these, what next? Music theory helps you understand not just about written music, but the artistry of it. Knowing music theory gives you creative freedom to improvise and compose, and communicate through a common language with other professional musicians. Imagine being able to earn that sessionist fee even when a piece of music is thrown at you last minute for a studio recording session or gig. Vocalist needs to transpose a song suddenly? No problem at all - you're equipped!

3. Gels Well With Other Musicians
You can easily check out an instructor's social media page or performance videos - and based on comments, supporters, connections, gauge how an instructor fares socially in the music circle. This is important - most likely you'll pick up crucial networking and social skills to connect better with fellow musicians and future fans. Also, a well-connected and open instructor might arrange for you to perform with others, when the opportunity arises!

Picking a music school for my child
As kids require a healthy learning environment, knowing what to look out for in a school is of extreme importance:

1. Does the music school take safety precautions?
A school that caters to having children around will take extra care on safety - be it exposed glass, sharp edges, rowdiness by fellow students - these will not be tolerated. The teaching rooms do not facilitate risky heights, exposed wires or broken instruments. That being said, The Music Lab cannot be responsible for any harm or injury your child sustains during his or her time at our school due to uncontrolled or bad behaviour, unless it is due to direct negligence or abuse on our part, which we do not tolerate. We love children! Feel free to have a look around our school and teaching studios!

2. Does the school have a history of teaching children?
Be sure to perform a thorough check on the school's teaching history. This can be done through social media or the school's gallery pages. If there are photos and videos of kids, most likely the school has had great experience with children, and will know the best methods to teach them. Don't make the mistake of going for a school that takes in only children - as this does not mean the instructors are more qualified in developing a child's growth. Not only that - imagine an environment where the teacher is the only adult, or the king, and other children dare not spill the beans in the event of an abuse due to threats by the teacher. Not saying it'll happen - but do consider the possibility!

3. Does the school encourage children to perform?
A school that encourages children to perform during the course of education helps every child develop confidence and adaptability. The child learns to take responsibilty not only to practise for the sake of performing well for oneself, but recognises the importance of team effort and playing with others. This mitigates excessive ego development, and allows the child to gain social skills from a young age. Do check out the performance structure of the school - don't go for one that waits years before allowing your kid a chance to go on stage!

3 things that define great music education
There's good music education, there's bad, and then there's GREAT. So, what makes great music education?

1. Education that genuinely develops the student's potential
While we can safely assume that most musicians possess the passion for playing and performing, the same can't be said for teaching. There are many excellent players out there, but not that many excellent teachers. A musician who performs well and teaches well needs to care and have genuine interest in the student's growth and development, not only in music skills but in discipline and attitude as well. The music teacher cannot have the attitude of "I'm only doing this for money", but needs to recognise that his or her mentorship will positively or negatively affect a student - and a student's true potential can only be reached if the correct attitude is passed down.

2. Education that encourages freedom in exploration
While there are certain guidelines and "rules" (for lack of a better word) to follow in studying music, at The Music Lab, we never ever forget that music is an art. Our instructors will never enforce hard and fast styles to follow, or impose a rigid regiment written in stone for the student to copy. While you may see that some instructors perform or specialize in certain styles, they possess deep understanding of various different music styles as well. A student is encouraged to explore, research and work with our instructors in finding their own style or expand into other genres.

3. Education that encourages freedom in expression
Music, ultimately, is for expressing. True - expression can be done solo, in a room by yourself - but it is much more rewarding when done through performances and concerts, on a stage with an audience watching you. Share your talents with the world while entertaining them. Music can evoke memories, motivate and move people. It can be a release for your own deepest emotions as well. The Music Lab encourages all our students to go for performances, and we arrange practice sessions and gigs frequently. So - set yourself free, through music expression today.

Is there an age limit?
No. Music is a never-ending journey. We have students from 5 to 70, and there are professional musicians playing, teaching and performing well into their 80s!

Which Music Course to Choose? (5)

How to choose a suitable music course?
There are a few questions to answer on your own, before deciding on a music course to take up. We're here to help!

1. What are your goals?
Understanding your goals may mean picking up a piece of paper and pen, and doing an honest assessment of your music needs and wants. Some valid questions could be: Are you doing it for ego? Are you pursuing a childhood dream? Do you want to become a performer, or just a hobbyist? Do you want to write music, and become a composer or producer? Contact us to help you with these burning questions!

2. Is there any particular instrument or sound you prefer?
Do you identify yourself better with certain music instruments, styles or genres? This is crucial because while music instruments can be played widely across different genres, some instruments can kickstart your journey faster due to it being much more suitable for a particular style, or having a slightly easier learning curve. Now, there is no easy instrument, but due to time constraints and aptitude, some people pick up certain instruments better over others.

3. Where do you foresee yourself in music in 5 years?
Do you see yourself performing in pubs as a sideline? Or would you be behind a mixer, doing music production? Knowing what you see yourself as in the near future can assist in the decision-making process on what course to take up!

Which music courses should I take together?
At The Music Lab, while you can do very well just taking up one course, sometimes it makes sense to take up two or more courses simultaneously, or in a staggered fashion. For example, if you want to achieve songwriting or sessioning skills faster, you might want to consider taking the Music Composition course along with your main instrument's course, and move into Band Performance Studies after your instructor has deemed you ready. Speak with us for assistance!
Do I need to know music theory?
This is the question that most musicians ask, regardless of what technical level they're at. Without music theory knowledge, it's still very possible to perform and record, by following chord charts, tabs, or simply going by hearing and memorisation. However, The Music Lab encourages studying music theory, because it allows for every musician in the band to have a common language. Musicians can transpose faster, write music faster and improvise easily with theory education. Even live performances and jamming sessions are enhanced.
Basic Improvisation Vs. Jazz Improvisation
We can safely say that Jazz Improvisation is the next level up from Basic Improvisation. Jazz music genres contain complex rhythms and syncopations that require deeper study, understanding and practice.
Music Production Vs. Music Composition
Music Production is a digital course that takes you into actually gaining skills in recording your music professionally. Learn to mix different sounds, tracks and produce music for yourself and other musicians. Utilise sound effects, drum tracks and midi sounds. Music Composition helps you develop songwriting skills and knowledge. Compose, arrange and bring your tune into reality, then get into recording through Music Production.

Is a Career in Music for Me? (2)

Should I choose a career in music?
The honest answer to this: it depends. In anywhere in the world, frankly, the opportunity to make it as a superstar in the music scene is bleak. You need contacts, you need exposure, and you need to stand out. In Singapore, this is even harder to achieve. That being said, it isn't entirely impossible. With the government slowly investing more in the arts and recognising the music potential of our people, there might be more Stephanie Suns, JJ Lins and Tanya Chuas in the near future. More performance opportunities are opening up, and the schools are making every effort to help their students achieve their goals as musicians. Do note, however, that if you choose music as a career, do not quit your day job just yet while studying music. We suggest taking up the courses and performing as a sideline. Only when you're sure of your skills and confidence, understand life inside out as a musician, and know that ample opportunities are coming your way by way of contacts, then by all means have a go, if that's what you truly want.
How to be a successful musician
Practise, practise, practise! For potential songwriters and music producers, get as much feedback as possible on your works, and be humble in learning. Those who don't grow are usually the ones who impede their own progress due to pride. That being said, don't let negative comments put you down, and know what you truly want enough to see which negative comment doesn't apply to you and your creations. Music producers can try recording bands for free while gaining the experience before charging a small fee. For all musicians, don't let confidence become ego and arrogance. There's something to learn from every musician you encounter, and it is important to honour your words and work with good principles.

What is Our School Like? (2)

An environment for adults and kids alike
A warm, friendly and energizing environment, suitable for young and old alike. We pride ourselves in being friends with our students, and are always open to feedback and communication. Some students have been with us since the day we started!
What is our teaching style?
We're definitely not the old-school militant style of music teachers. Our instructors are fun, versatile and creative creatures, and possess big hearts that strive to nurture everyone in their music journey. We love to help students solve any obstacle in learning, and allow our students to express their creativity. We encourage students to practise and interact with fellow musicians, and emphasize on performance goals.