I continued my August goal this week with Bonnie Blanchard’s second book, Making Music and Having A Blast! A Guide For All Music Students. More than anything else, I’m hoping that my students will benefit from this month’s blog posts and Bonnie’s helpful tips! If you are about to begin private music lessons, take note! These tips are also for you! These lists come directly from Bonnie’s book and I’ve added some brief thoughts of my own to summarize her points.
Tips and Tricks for Fast Success
1) Play a decent instrument. With a new instrument you’ll sound better, it will be much easier to play, you’ll have even more incentive to practice, you’ll spend less time at the repair shop, your instrument will retain its value and can be more easily sold or traded in and you’ll have the recognition and reward for years of practice and hard work.
2) Get the basics right. When you learn the fundamentals of your instrument, music theory, scales, arpeggios, musicality and the basics of sight-reading, you will become an independent learner.
3) Take lessons from a good teacher. We aren’t expected to learn math on our own so why should we learn music on our own? A great teacher will help you realize your full musical potential.
4) Make practicing a daily habit. We would never participate in a sporting event without practicing first so why wouldn’t we practice our instrument everyday? Practice on days that you brush your teeth, on days that you eat and days that end in the letter y. 😉
5) Practice the right way. Work smart, not hard. Practice in chunks and start with the sections that need to most work. Slow practice means fast progress.
6) Let your parents help you. Your parents are invested in your success so ask questions.
7) Work hard and set goals. What do you want to accomplish? Set short-term and long-term goals to make it happen!
8) Enjoy your playing. After you’ve worked really hard reward yourself by playing something really fun!
9) Commit to hanging in there when the going gets tough. Work hard, be patient with your progress and take the occasional break to rejuvenate.
10) Realize it’s not just about the music. Music teaches us discipline, builds our confidence, teaches us how to work as a team, accept disappointment and focus on personal bests.
Benefits of Private Lessons
Books can’t tell you when you make a mistake, they can’t guarantee a good tone, coach you or teach you to play musically. Your band or orchestra director can’t always give you the individual attention you need or hear you play individually on a regular basis. The students who perform the best are usually the ones who take private lessons. Here are some of the other benefits of private lessons.
1) A private teacher will solve your problems and act as a personal trainer.
2) A private teacher will work with your individual learning style.
3) You’ll learn to play correctly from the beginning.
4) You’ll leave the tough beginning stages faster.
5) You’ll learn tricks to make playing easier and more fun.
6) You’ll gain a new adult friend.
7) You’ll meet kids your age who also play instruments or sing.
8) You’ll be motivated by your teacher.
9) You’ll enjoy more musical opportunities.
What Qualities Should Every Good Teacher Have?
Now that we’ve convinced you that private music lessons are the way to go, what qualities should you be looking for in a private teacher? A great teacher should:
1) Know the standard music for your instrument.
2) Be interested in you as a person, not just as a student.
3) Boost your confidence and believe in your ability to play well.
4) Be excited about teaching you.
5) Be patient and take time to help you improve.
6) Use creative ways to help you understand techniques.
7) Motivate you with praise.
8) Broaden your horizons by connecting you to the larger musical world.
9) Be prepared for each lesson and have a long-range plan.
10) Make each lesson fun.
How to Be a Great Student
Private lessons are a two way street and the experience is what you make of it. In order to be the best student you can be:
1) Come to every lesson.
2) Call or email your teacher if you have a question.
3) Involve your parents.
4) Pay promptly.
5) Arrive on time.
6) Bring all your music.
7) Walk in with a smile and greet your teacher.
8) Quit whining.
9) Be prepared.
10) Focus on your effort, not just results.
11) Complete your assignment on time.
12) If you haven’t practiced, be honest.
13) Don’t talk your way through the lesson.
14) Don’t pick and choose what you want to practice.
15) Be willing to change.
16) Be curious.
17) Keep focused.
19) Be persistent.
20) Treat your teacher with respect.
21) Be grateful.
22) Be thoughtful.
23) Enjoy the lesson.
24) Thank your teacher for the lesson.
25) Become a better person through music.
26) Practice being a good student.
Stay tuned next week for tips on becoming a skilled musician, performing with confidence and making beautiful music!