Posts Tagged ‘practice’



September 24, 2014

Finding a teacher can be a difficult process.  And here’s why:

There is no 1-1 correlation between playing and teaching.

Many successful players are also wonderful teachers.  They have spent the time figuring out how to do what they do and are able to explain it well.

There are plenty of successful players who will tell you that you should study with them because they “can do what you are  looking to do, so who better?”  This doesn’t always work out so well.  Just because someone is able to do something does not mean they are able to teach.

Then there are fabulous teachers who did not have a playing career.  They are able to help you grow both technically and musically because they have devoted their life to teaching.

And the most difficult, the bad player and bad teacher.  This seems obvious.  Not able to have a performing career can drive one to teaching, but without an understanding of either creates a failure at both.

So how do you find a great teacher?  Good question.  

If you are young and inexperienced, ask someone you trust.  This could be your band director.  It could be an older student who is playing well.

If you are older and have some experience, go and take a lesson from someone.  With some idea of what you are looking for in a teacher, you can get an idea of how a prospective teacher and you will work by spending one-on-one time with them.

Okay, I’ve found a teacher.  Now what?

Once you’ve found a teacher, listen to them!  If you’re paying this person to help you grow, make sure you’re doing what they say.

Okay, go practice.


Summertime (and the practice is easy)

June 4, 2014

Now that school is out, for most of us, it’s time for what can be the most enjoyable and productive time of year.  Do I sense doubt?  Stick with me.  During the school year, you are generally responsible for three types of music:

1)  Music your teacher assigns for lessons

2)  Music you will perform (school ensembles, recitals, etc.)

3)  Music you want to learn.

During the summer, numbers 1 and 2 don’t exist in the same way for most people.  This leaves more time for the area most people ignore when they get busy during the school year- #3.  So get to it.  Make a list of music you want to learn.  It can be anything- solos, transcriptions, tunes, excerpts, stuff you think everyone already knows except for you but you’re too embarrassed to admit it, etudes, etc.  Then get to work.  How many times have you heard something and thought, “wow, that’s cool…I’d love to be able to play that”?  Well, this is your chance.  Make a list of:

Music I Want to Learn

Of course, you must balance your musical practice with technical practice.  Summer provides a great opportunity to tackle the technical weaknesses that you are busy hiding during the school year hoping no one notices.  As I put it so delicately to my students here at Indiana, summer is the best time to make a list and practice:

What I Suck At

With these two lists you’ve got a full summer’s worth of stuff to practice.  When school starts in the fall, you can go back with confidence in the new music you’ve learned and the new skills you’ve integrated.