FAQ: Are Private Music Lessons Right For Me/My Kids?

I LOVE music, and I love sharing my love of music with others. I say nearly every day I have the best job in the world! Helping inspire others to learn and grow musically is amazing. Here are some factors to consider if you're deciding whether private music lessons are the next step in your musical journey:

Reason for Taking Lessons

Many people reach out to me because they also love music and want to understand it better. This is a great reason to learn music, and when the desire to understand is deep, students can really excel. Some students have always wanted to play an instrument and finally have the time to put into it. Here are some examples of reasons for lessons that often lead to success:

  • Desire to understand music more thoroughly
  • Wanting to develop musical skills
  • Wanting to be able to play music from a favorite artist or for a special event
  • Change in schedule allowing more time to dedicate to practicing an instrument
  • Returning to an instrument after time away
  • Self-taught and wanting to push beyond what's possible alone

I always meet with prospective students prior to starting lessons to ensure the reason for taking lessons lines up with my teaching philosophy. It's rare, but sometimes I find the reason for lessons comes from an external factor (perhaps a parent or family member) who thinks learning an instrument is a good idea. In these cases I recommend waiting to begin lessons until the student expresses a desire to learn. This brings us to the next point!

Motivation to Learn

I'm with my students for a very short time each week. Just like learning to speak, walk, read, and write, learning an instrument is a skill that takes time, dedication, and consistency. I want to teach students eager to learn! I totally understand scales aren't always the most fun thing to learn, and songs in method books might not be as motivating as a favorite song from the radio, and that's okay. I do my best to always tie in what we're learning with musical goals to help students apply techniques and methods to music they want to play. 

That said, students should truly want to LEARN. Being open and trusting the process is important. Mastering a skill takes time, patience, and dedication - these are key factors for student success. We celebrate small steps in my studio, and praise progress over perfection. This brings us to our next point!

Dedication to Practice

Ah, the answer to the age-old question: How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice! Recent research has shown it takes around 10,000 hours of practice to completely master a skill like an instrument. I did the math for you: if you practice every single day for an hour every day, that's 27 YEARS to truly master an instrument! Since one of my students thinks I'm 18, that means even I haven't mastered my instruments! ;) 

On a serious note, I always tell people I am not the teacher who will get you into Juilliard. That's not my teaching style. I do not recommend daily practice of an hour or more. I'm aware people lead busy lives and even young students often have many activities in their schedules. With that in mind, my approach to practice focuses more on consistency than time. If you're excited to play piano while I'm there but have no desire or time to practice anything on your own, it may be best to wait on lessons. 

Here's a quick rundown of my goal-oriented (versus time-oriented) approach to practice:

  • 3-5 days/week (in a perfect world we'd be looking at 6 days/week)
  • Practice one song/section (depending on length) as many times as it takes to get it correct to the best of your ability today
  • Play the song/selection CORRECTLY 3-5 times IN A ROW (no mistakes you're aware of)

This may seem like a lot, and it can be, but it doesn't have to be. For younger students we could even be looking at playing 1-2 measures of music per day, lasting less than 5 minutes! For older students or those with more time, working on an entire piece can take 30 minutes or more, but break it up into whatever works for you that day. The key is to play 3-5 days per week - if you stick to this, you'll see improvement, guaranteed!

Availability for Practice

Piggybacking on the above point, making sure you have room in your schedule for practice is crucial. It's better to wait or pause lessons during busy times than try to squeeze practice into a hectic schedule where students may feel stressed or rushed - or worse, frustrated with a lack of progress due to a lack of time to practice. If you're struggling to fit practice into your schedule, let's talk - we may be able to break it down into bite-size sections. It'll take a little longer to work through a song this way, but you'll still see progress - promise!  

Access to Instruments

Finally, having access to a quality instrument is crucial for practice. It doesn't have to be expensive and I'm happy to offer guidance on instrument selection that fits your budget and goals if you don't currently have an instrument. For guitarists, a guitar that's the right size and has a decent neck/action is key. For pianists, a digital keyboard is 100% okay - in fact, I use a digital piano at home! Ideally all digital pianos will have weighted, touch-sensitive full-size keys, but I'm flexible with early beginners. We can always start with what you have and look toward an upgrade after a set period of progress in lessons. 

If you're ready to add lessons to your musical journey, please contact me today!