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The Importance of Taking Private Lessons


The Importance of Taking Private Lessons

by James
Sometimes we may find ourselves asking "Why should my child take private lessons"? Well, the benefits are more far reaching than anyone can really realize. One of my favorite articles on the subject comes from Pete Estabrook from San Francisco's North Bay Trumpet Studio, posted below.
What are the benefits of taking weekly private music lessons? There are a variety of benefits to and motivations for taking private lessons. Discussing these ideas with your child may help them to clarify the reasons behind their desire or decision to study privately. As parents, this may help us determine if such study is warranted and, therefore, something one can and should support.
Some of the obvious student motivations for studying privately could include the immediate: "to get better," "to do well on my next playing test," "to win a scholarship competition," "to become first chair," "to get into youth orchestra," "to make it into honor band". These are immediate and worthy goals. We should also be open to the possibility that we might not want to limit our quest to these "ends" but use them as a starting point on our musical journey.
As a parent, one may wish to consider some of the less obvious benefits of private study that do not exclude our child's initial motivations but could be beyond his or her initial grasp. These might include: 
  • non-parental adult support and encouragement
  • overcoming obsticles independently (with personal, one-on-one, gentle guidance)
  • time management skills
  • coping with difficulties
  • problem solving strategies
  • self-honesty, integrity and accountability
  • non-jugemental self-assessment
  • application of self-discipline
  • independent assignment preparation
  • clarifying intentions
  • clear decision making
  • mental and physical coordination
  • respiratory muscle development
  • facial muscle development
  • hand-eye coordination
  • overcoming harmful habits
  • encoruagement of curisoity
  • stimulation of creativity
  • application of thoughtfulness
  • critical thinking skills
It should be apparent that all of these items listed could begin with "learning how to…". This is extremely important. In a private lesson situation, we have the opportunity, as teachers, to work individually and directly with a student, at their own rate of progress, with the process of learning. To me, this is the key to good teaching and the cornerstone of private lessons. As private teachers, we act as a guide to the process of self-discovery through music. If these are not foreign ideas, then one should applaud a child's desire to seek lessons with a private teacher and support him in that undertaking whole-heartedly.