Are Private Music Lessons Worth It?
Many students wonder what it will be like when they take private music lessons. Having a little understanding always makes that first lesson more comfortable….So I’ve written this post to show you exactly how effective music lessons work best. Even if you’ve already taken many music lessons, this article should help you better understand the process and maximize your learning. Read on to learn what an ideal private music lesson looks like, what will happen during the lesson, and what you’ll need to do at home to get the most out of every lesson and your overall experience as a musician.
There are many elements to an excellent music lesson, but here we will focus on the framework, the big picture. This framework is the cycle of learning, and it guarantees great results.
–Note that most music schools and music teachers do not work this way because they are not normally licensed or trained. This is because there are no real private music teacher training programs. However, at Sage Music, we seek to change this culture. We start by hiring the best teachers that we can find, and then we train all our teachers in the cycle of learning and the best teaching methods so that all of our students get quality lessons – all the time. Our teachers learn how to tailor their approach to different learning styles, maximizing the effectiveness (and your enjoyment) of each and every lesson. Simply, we invest in our music teachers so that they can invest in you.
The cycle of music learning
The cycle of learning is a three-step process that is the basis for excellent music learning. It ensures that you are making steady progress toward your goals, without being overwhelmed. Understanding this process will show you what to expect from a great lesson, from your teacher, and from the school you work with.
Step 1. The teacher provides information
When you come to a lesson, you will be asked to accomplish something. This is called the “aim”. Your teacher should clearly define the aim so you understand it. In most cases, you should be able to accomplish the aim in a single lesson. If not, you should understand how you will accomplish the aim over a longer period of time.
Your teacher should give you only the information necessary to accomplish that aim. Anything less and you won’t be able to accomplish the aim. Anything more and you’ll be overwhelmed. A professional teacher knows how to get this right.
An aim can be anything that will help you progress as a musician. If you’re just starting music lessons for the first time, then the aim of your first lesson might be that, by the end of the first lesson, you will be able to assemble, disassemble, and hold your instrument with proper posture. If you’re more advanced, an aim might be that you’ll be able to play a particular passage with accurate notes and rhythm, or that you’ll lean how to play a piece that you already know with more expression. Aims can be just about anything, but they’ll be customized to you, your playing level, and your goals as a musician.
Step 2: You achieve the aim in the lesson
Your instructor will teach you how to accomplish this aim, and your job will be to accomplish the aim during the lesson. Your teacher will supervise you to ensure you are doing this correctly during the lesson, and he or she will also provide feedback and help you when needed.
Step 3: You will form habits through regular practice at home
After you have accomplished the aim in the lesson, you’ll practice it at home to form a secure habit. This is done through accurate and deliberate practice. Your teacher can help you learn how to practice to maximize the effectiveness of your time and to truly help you develop these secure habits.
When you come to your next lesson, your teacher will check the habit that you have established through your practice. If it is well formed you’ll get the next set of information and the aim for your next lesson. If your habit isn’t well-formed or if you’ve learned something incorrectly, your teacher will adjust your lesson and revisit that aim to help you learn it correctly.
That’s it! It’s a very easy process. When you follow these steps in the cycle of learning, you’ll achieve excellent progress! But as they say, it takes a village…. So your teacher and your music school will also have some responsibilities to help you progress. Let’s take a look at what each person needs to do.
Your teacher’s responsibility
Your music teacher’s job is to project a positive and supportive attitude, and to evaluate your work. She should provide you with the right information and clearly defined aims. Your teacher should also plan a route to help you achieve your personal goals, and should be able to adjust hear teaching approach and how she explains things to work best with your individual learning style.
Your responsibility as a student
Your job is to trust the music teacher and his advice, and to put forth your best effort during every music lesson. You should take good notes, writing down the information and aims so you don’t forget them. Then you should apply it as directed during your music lessons. You should also be sure to ask questions if you’re not sure of something or if you aren’t understanding the information that your teacher is presenting. Lastly, you’ll practice at home to form secure habits.
Parent’s responsibility (if the student is a child)
Parents should be involved if the student is a child. But the parent’s role varies with the age and ability each student. A parent’s primary responsibility is to ensure that the student practices and to be supportive of the student’s development as a musician. The parent, however, doesn’t need to be directly involved in the practice.
If the teacher has formulated the aims well for the student, the student should be able to accomplish them without direct supervision. Although, the child might need some encouragement to practice.
The Benefits of Private Music Lessons
When you reflect back on the cycle of music learning, you can see how important it is to take private music lessons. The cycle of learning depends on a teacher’s ability to identify aims for an individual student, and then to adjust their teaching methods and the information provided to support that one claim during each lesson. If you don’t develop good habits while practicing in between your lessons, a teacher needs to restructure the next lesson to ensure that you develop that good habit and truly accomplish the aim that they had identified.
None of this is easy to do, or even possible to do, in a group lesson setting, especially when you’re a beginner student. While it’s definitely important to learn to play with other musicians, there are other settings that can accomplish this. Sage Music offers ensembles and opportunities for you to play with other musicians. But we also focus on the importance of private music lessons in establishing those good habits, facilitating the cycle of music learning, and in giving you the best value possible for the time and effort you put into every lesson.
Remember that, when you take private lessons, you’ll receive your teacher’s undivided attention. You’ll be able to progress at a pace that is just right for your needs, rather than being tethered to the overall lesson group’s progress. This means that you won’t get left behind if you don’t master a skill as quickly as the other musicians, and you also won’t be bored if you’ve already developed a skill that the other students are still working on.
Plus, since you’re the only student in the room, there’s no hiding behind the playing of other students. Your teacher will be able to hear the nuances in your playing and can take the time to adjust small things, like your posture or phrasing, that can make a big difference in your development as a musician. This means that your teacher will have high expectations for you, and you’ll need to truly master the skills and music that you’re working on before moving on to something new. Truthfully, there’s no better way to become a great musician than to receive private music lessons from a talented teacher who wants to see you succeed and who understands and uses the cycle of music learning.
Learning an instrument takes much time and effort. Your progress will show over weeks, months, and years of practice. Be patient, the results will be great! Follow this simple process and I guarantee that you can make excellent progress no matter your age, background or ability.
If you’d like our help, you can always request information about our programs.