Are you getting your money’s worth out of private lessons?

By Alyssmusic moneya Cowell

Music lessons are a valuable tool for developing growing minds, honing fine motor skills, finding a creative outlet for self-expression, and a myriad other personal benefits for young and old alike. Families who sign up for music lessons are making an investment in their child’s education, and should make sure they are getting the most out of that investment:


Music Theory as a part of private lessons:

Your student’s lessons should include the study of music theory, no matter what instrument they study and no matter what style of music they like. Music theory is the language that allows musicians to communicate with each other, and transcends instruments and style. A musician that can’t read music is limited in how far they can progress; a lack of theory-knowledge is the musical equivalence of illiteracy. Don’t skip the theory! It will make reading and learning music faster and easier, it will make patterns in music easier to identify, and it will give your students a sense of accomplishment and independence as they discover they can read on their own.


Take Advantage of Performance Opportunities:

Your music studio is going to provide opportunities for your student to perform on their instrument, most often in the form of a recital. There is SO much to be gained from preparation for and participation in recitals. A student that takes the time to work on a difficult piece over time discovers the value of perseverance as they tackle each line of music. Listening to more advanced students perform motivates beginners to work harder. The supportive environment of a studio recital gives students the courage to perform more often in other venues. Consider recitals as an extension of the classroom – an opportunity to learn how to perform.

Lessons should expose the student to new types of music:

Students often sign up for lessons hoping to learn that “One Song”. The Song that everyone who learns to play that instrument plays. Für Elise. Smoke on the Water. Let it Go. While the motivation of playing that “One Song” is a great way to establish practice ethic, a student should also expect to listen to music they’ve never heard before. Teachers often suggest listening assignments that will broaden a student’s musical horizons – make sure you take the time to actually listen to them! As the child of two rock-and-roll-only parents, if a music teacher hadn’t exposed me to classical singing, I’m not sure I would have ever discovered it on my own. Your teacher has listened to a lot of music and wants to share it with you!


In order to really get everything you can from your lessons each week, you should actually practice. Practicing isn’t busy work your teacher assigns each week to fill up your time, it’s a way for students to develop muscle memory and reinforce difficult techniques at home. If you didn’t need to practice, your teacher wouldn’t ask you to. Practicing isn’t glamorous, it doesn’t always sound nice, and sometimes it’s even a little boring, but it IS the difference between a student who can sort of play their instrument and a student who makes music. This is one area where the results are equal to the effort put in. If a student is not really practicing, he/she will not improve. Don’t sell yourself short! If you are really struggling with carving out time to practice, your teacher should have some suggestions for you.

Let Your Teacher Help You:

When you sign up for lessons, you are gaining a teacher and a teammate. Your teacher wants to help prepare you for auditions, gigs, and special events; let them! Make sure you tell your teacher about the events you want to participate in. Ask their opinion on song selections – they have a store of knowledge that is at your disposal! Often your teacher will have insight on the music-related activities a student is likely to pursue, and the information they have could mean the difference between an unsuccessful audition and a successful one.

Catoctin School of Music

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