Friday, July 29, 2011

Willy Minnix: Music Lessons - A Great Way To Develop Your Studen...

Willy Minnix: Music Lessons - A Great Way To Develop Your Studen...: "School is beginning again for the 2011-2012 school year, and I’m sure that you, like most parents, are gearing up to get the most out of y..."

Music Lessons - A Great Way To Develop Your Student's Brain!

School is beginning again for the 2011-2012 school year, and I’m sure that you, like most parents, are gearing up to get the most out of your student’s education. One of the things that you might want to consider this year is the benefits of music education on your child’s physical, emotional and spiritual development.

Music lessons are well known to help in the brain development of children. Not only does the study of music help develop the artistic portions of the brain, but it helps develop the physical aspects of coordination. I have known many children who come to me strongly favoring one hand or the other. The process of learning how to use their off hand to play a particular instrument has helped them develop skill and agility in the use of a hand that otherwise would rarely get used. For instance, in playing the piano, most right-handers learn how to play ever increasingly complex pieces with the left hand. This continuous repetition of using the left hand causes it to be able to do multiple tasks with either hand. I know of a mechanic who developed the use of his non-dominant left hand by learning the piano. Now working on different parts of an engine are simpler because he has trained his off hand in doing complex tasks on the piano. This physical dexterity training has correlated into the job world, and allows him to complete tasks quickly and more efficiently than he would have probably been able to without the music training.

I have read of studies where the study of music is linked to all sorts of cognitive skills. A quick Google search will yield many results related to music and math skill development, music and artistic development, music and physical therapy. It seems that the benefits to the physical and mental development of the student could be endless!

One of the long term benefits that I see with music study is that it teaches a student how to recognize challenges, develop strategies for overcoming those challenges, practicing skills that enable the student to overcome, and finally helping the student realize success. These skills are necessary to every human in life. We are constantly faced with challenges in the work world, and without an ingrained pattern of success learned throughout childhood it becomes difficult to thrive in the marketplace. But music instruction reinforces this pattern into adulthood.

Some of the ways this pattern of success is ingrained are shown in the above mentioned pattern:

1. Recognize challenges – A music student is often able to see other musicians that they would like to emulate in style or technique. For instance, I once had a thirteen year old student who wanted to learn how to play guitar like Jimi Hendrix, yet who had never had lessons before. Recognizing the challenge to play like Hendrix was easy for the student because he wanted to be able to play some of the songs that Hendrix wrote.
2. Develop Strategies - Once the student has a goal, helping that student realize how to achieve that goal is the teacher’s job. Oftentimes, a student will approach a teacher with a specific style or artist they want to play like, only to be discouraged in order for the teacher to feel comfortable in the style they are proficient in. I believe this approach does not help the student, and only causes them to give up. In the case of my Hendrix student, I was a challenged myself, because I couldn’t play much Hendrix, at the time. But I began to encourage him to take the basics that he was learning and see how those basics were found in Hendrix’s music.  Together we began to see how Hendrix came up with some of the music he wrote, and as a teacher I was able to explain to my student not only what Hendrix was playing but why he was playing it the way he did, and it helped my student to begin to augment material his own lessons with ideas he gained from Hendrix.
3. Practicing skills that enable the student to overcome the challenges – Often students are required to play material that they do not see a benefit to, but as in the case above, not only was the student learning how to play material that was crucial for proper development as a guitarist, he was able to find that same material in the music of his idol, Jimi Hendrix. So each week, my student would come back more and more excited as he not only learned how to play a pentatonic scale, but he could see how Jimi Hendrix used it in a song like “Red House.” This type of reinforcement generates excitement in the lessons, and keeps the student engaged and focused on learning.
4. Realizing Success – Once my student could play a couple Jimi Hendrix songs, he was excited about learning more, so he switched gears to Eric Clapton, another challenging guitarist. Success breeds more success. Once someone succeeds at one task, they are more likely to go onto other challenges because they now realize that there are many benefits when we succeed.

One of the major challenges as a teacher that I have encountered is bridging the gap between presenting a topic such as music theory in such a way that it is not boring. I have found over the years, that by incorporating music theory into songs that the student can quickly learn to play, helps the student to learn a great deal of theory without realizing that they are learning it. I find that by teaching simple songs from the beginning, instead of playing a major scale a thousand times to master it, have the student play a song that they will like that incorporated the major scale in it. This way the student is practicing the major scale, but doesn’t realize it.

For parents I believe one of the biggest difficulties is wading through the jungle of materials and resources that are available. A good teacher can help with a lot of that. There are a lot of great free resources out there as well. I find that youtube can be a great place for free lessons, and I actually post a lot of free lessons online there as well. You can type in Willy Minnix, and find a bunch of free mandolin, piano, guitar and harmonica lessons that I have posted there. But nothing beats having a caring teacher that wants to see your student develop and grow. Being able to spot challenging areas, areas of interest and areas of strength are things that can be done only when a teacher is present. And also a teacher will be able to recognize when a student is ready to take on greater tasks such as playing in a band or small group.

Something often overlooked in the study of music, especially with instruments such as the piano, is the almost required ability of any professional musician to play in a group. This is why I believe that group lessons should be available. Very few teachers specialize in cross-instrument group lessons. Sometimes you can find a teacher that will teach multiple piano lessons, or multiple guitar lessons, but very rarely do you find a teacher that has the ability to teach something like rock band lessons. But with the popularity of rock band type video games, more and more parents and students want to be able to play with their friends. The benefit of this type of lesson is that students learn teamwork, rhythm and how to perform music the way most people listen to it, in a band! The benefit for parents is often found in the pocketbook. Group music lessons are often far less expensive as a qualified group lesson teacher will be able to provide a discount as more students are incorporated into the band. These student bands often become a great source of pride for the parents, and amusement for the neighborhood, as the neighborhood band becomes the entertainment for block parties, backyard barbeques and even sometimes youth bands at local churches.

The local church youth band should not be overlooked either. Not only does playing in the band at the church provide for the obvious spiritual development of the student, it also usually provides needed positive feedback from other important adults in the student’s life, from ministers and other uplifting role models in the young musician’s life. I have found over the years, that most students involved in some kind of neighborhood or church band have found the kind of inner fulfillment that keeps them away from the dangers of drugs and alcohol.

So as this school year begins, and summer comes to a close, I hope you consider music lessons for your students. If you are having a hard time locating a teacher, please feel free to contact me at 845-820-3062, or shoot me an email at and I would be happy to help you figure out an instrument and type of lessons that would be perfect for your student.   

Willy Minnix is a private and group music instructor located in Richmond, IN. He teaches piano, guitar, bass guitar, drums, mandolin, banjo, harmonica and voice to all grade levels. He also teaches Family Band lessons, group music lessons designed to teach students how to play together in a band environment.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

New Mandolin Songs Posted

Hey Everyone!

I just posted 5 more mandolin songs that you can download by clicking on the music player at the top of my blog.

Hope you have a great day and enjoy!

God bless,

I find that i really like the music on club penguin!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

New Mandolin Recordings Posted

Hey Everyone!

I just added three new mandolin songs. Can't figure out how to upload "Black Jack Davey" for you to download yet, but as soon as I do you can. These are free until the album is released, and all the songs are finished. Get 'em while you can! Check them out in the mp3 player above! If you click on the mp3 player it will take you to where you can download them.

God bless,


Sunday, July 10, 2011

Today's Sermon - Patience

Hey Everyone,

If you're interested, I just posted today's sermon at my other blog:

God bless,


Friday, July 8, 2011

WECI Interview from 2004 Parts 7-12

Here are the second parts of the 2004 WECI interview. Most of the songs covered in this interview are from the Holy Water and Near the Cross Albums. Hope you enjoy!

What's so special about this interview for me, aside from it being my first radio interview and that it was a really cool thing my friend Ron did for me, is that my "cousin" Dana called me up the night it aired, and held the phone by her radio the whole time so I could hear the interview on the air. It was pretty cool. 

God bless,


WECI Interview from 2004 - Parts 1-6

Hello Everybody!

Today I'm posting the mp3 file from an old interview on the Local Artist Spotlight program from WECI at Earlham College in Richmond, IN. This interview was from November of 2004 on the program ran by Ron Muse.

God bless,


Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Bob Dylan

I've been listening to a lot of older Dylan music lately. The Bootleg series volume 8, Together Through Life, Love and Theft and a couple other albums. I find that my favorite song I've been listening to lately is "It's All Good." It is such a humorous slam on the common modern phrase. "Cold blooded killer stalking the town...But there's nothing to worry about cause it's all good." It cracks me up. If you get a chance you should check out the song. I find that Bob still has something worth saying and does it in such a way that captures the attention of the listener.

Anyway, as far as listening to Bob's music, it is indeed "all good!"

God bless,