Updated: May 7
Are you getting the most out of your music lessons?
Whether your getting lessons for yourself, as a gift, or for your kids it is important to make sure you're getting the most out of your investment. Music can be a tricky beast - sometimes we feel like we're advancing in leaps and bounds and other times we sit down to play and feel like we've gone backwards!
An important part of most great players musical journeys is private tuition. This post aims to help you get the most out of your lessons with some simple tips.
Tip #1 - Have an idea of what you want to learn
One of the most amazing things about music is that everyone has their own personal relationship with it. Before heading in for your first lesson have a think about the type of music you like, the artists you enjoy listening to, songs that mean a lot to you even and what attracted you to your instrument in the first place.
This will help the teacher understand where you want to go with your lessons and allow them to tailor their teaching methods to suit your personal needs - getting you playing the songs you love sooner.
Tip #2 - Find a teacher you 'gel' with
Learning to play a musical instrument is incredibly rewarding but can also be quite challenging. Finding a teacher you 'gel' with will make the learning process much easier. Different teachers will use a variety different methods and materials and what works for some students will not work for others. Here are some questions to ask yourself.
Can I talk easily with this person and ask questions without feeling silly?
Does the teacher respond to me in a way that resonates?
What qualities are important to me and does the teacher have them? (For example humorous, energetic, positive, demanding, open….)
Does this person seem passionate and enthusiastic about what they are teaching?
"A good teacher can inspire hope, ignite the imagination, and instill a love of learning" - Brad Henry
Tip #3 - Ask questions
The mother of Isidore Rabi, a Nobel laureate in physics, asked him every day when he returned home from school, “Did you ask a good question today?” rather than “Did you learn anything in school today?” Rabi credits this difference—asking good questions—as the reason he became a scientist (Sheff, 1988).
Good teachers love when you ask questions! Questions can really help with engagement in lessons and will give the teacher great feedback on where you're at. Ask questions about music your working on, music you've heard, instruments you've seen, technology you've heard about, maintenance tips, music recommendations, etc. The list is endless and will really help you get the most out of your lessons.
Tip #4 - Practice!
You knew this was coming... PRACTICE!
Practice is the most important part of learning to play an instrument. Developing a practice routine and playing as often as possible is the not-so-secret trick to getting good at music. Setting up a comfortable practice space that has somewhere comfortable to sit, somewhere to put your music and a stand for your instrument will make help you maximize the time spent practicing.
Tip #5 - Listen
Critically listening to a wide variety of music is an important part of being a great musician. Try and listen for concepts and techniques that you're working on in your lessons.
Also try and look for multiple versions of songs you're learning - particularly live versions as they can really help you to understand how different players approach playing and writing.
Have fun with it
Don't forget to enjoy the journey when you're learning to play an instrument. Everyone's musical journey is different and it is this journey that allows us to develop our individual voices as musicians.