So you’ve made the decision to have music lessons. Great. Now how do you make sure that you get the absolute best value and the most progress from your lessons? Here are a few tips to help.
First and foremost, ask yourself the question “What do I want out of this?” “Why am I coming to lessons?” “Why, on a freezing cold night in winter, do I drag myself out of my nice warm house to go down to the music shop for a lesson?” The answer will be different for everyone. Some have lessons because they love their instrument, some are social players just wanting to do a bit better, some already play well and want to put a “bit of polish” on their skills, some people just like a weekly chat, for some people it’s because their Mother makes them go! It doesn’t really matter what the reason is as long as you know what it is. Then, once you’ve figured it out, let your teacher know what it is that you really want and ask them to help you get there. The simple act of figuring out for yourself why you are going and telling your teacher will put you ahead of most music students straight away! Most people never do this, they just drift along from week to week learning whatever the teacher happens to throw at them. Figure out why you are doing it first and the rest becomes easy.
Now that we’ve got the hard bit out of the way, what else can we do to get the most out of your music lessons?
- Ask questions. Don’t just sit there saying nothing through your lessons. If you don’t understand something, speak up. If you have something you specifically want to learn, ask. If you have questions about your instrument, ask. Be an active participant in your lesson.
- Practice what you learn at your lessons. Do your homework folks. You don’t have to be fanatical about it but you have to understand something very basic. You can’t really learn an instrument in half an hour per week! If the only time you play your instrument is at your lesson, you are probably wasting your time and your money. Even doing a very small amount of practice a few times per week will have a massive benefit on your playing. Try it and see. If you never have time to practice then you are probably wasting your time having lessons.
- Buy a book or two or three. Sure you can learn with the scraps of paper that your teacher writes out during the lesson but I really feel that most students would benefit by having a small collection of books to learn from. I know they aren’t cheap but if you space it out and buy only 1 or 2 per year you will soon develop a valuable library. Ask your teacher for 1 or 2 to start with to suit your ability. If you spend half of the lesson waiting for your teacher to write out charts or tabs then you are probably wasting your money.
- Be prepared for your lesson and be on time. If you always arrive 10 minutes late because you couldn’t find your drum sticks or your guitar was stuck under your bed then you are definitely wasting money.
Lets face it, we are all busy these days and not many of us have money pouring out of our pockets! If we are going to spend our valuable time and money having music lessons or sending our kids to music lessons, then we all need to make sure that we get the best value out of it.
Choosing an instrument.
One thing that is sometimes forgotten when choosing an instrument for a beginner is the worse the instrument the less chance the beginner has of ever getting started. You can’t learn to drive on the road in a billy kart, some things that are sold to unsuspecting buyers are just toys that are made to look like musical instruments but they are not pitched properly and can never be played. We used to have a drum teacher, many years ago, when we had a drum practice pad kit in our lesson room and he used to say that he was going to put fishing line on a broom stick and see how the guitar students got on with that! Well, we put in an electronic drum kit for the drum students, but someone out there must have heard him because some of the cheapies that people are losing their money on, are not much more than fishing line on a broom stick. I say, They look like it, Smell like it & Taste like it, but aren’t you glad you didn’t step in it! Compared with the other costs of living, entertainment & sport, a quality starter instrument is CHEAP! Two cartons of beer is more expensive than a Valencia TC12 that could potentially get your little person playing for life!
Playing a musical instrument should be fun. It doesn’t matter whether it’s on stage in front of 10,000 people or in your bedroom in front of no-one but your self, it should be fun. If you view music as fun, then view music lessons as a tool to help you improve the whole experience.
Getting better value out of your music lessons will also have the side effect of making you a better player, which will definitely increase the fun. It’s a win-win situation.