August 16, 2017

What do you bring to the lesson?



If you have already identified what you want to learn in your lesson, you are ready to prepare for the event.  What will you need to bring to make the most of your lesson time?

Of course you will bring you – all ready to go, on time and tuned!  But the following things will also help:


  • Notebook.  Plan to take notes to help capture the gems you came for.  You might think you’ll remember it all, but you won't!  You’re likely going to get full answers to your questions (your wants) and it will likely be a lot of information!
  • Recording device.  Especially if you want me to be taught a tune.  You won’t be able to  play it until you have it in your head – which is best accomplished by listening to it.  By the way, this doesn’t replace the notebook!
  • Music you are currently working. Even if you have it memorized, bring it so everyone can read it!  Just bring it!
  • Your wants list.  I swear there is a switch in the bench which evacuates your memory.  Being able to state what you’re hoping to leave with will help you both focus on the most important things in the time you have.
  • Journal.  Another memory aid, the place you have been collecting your thoughts - and an aid to sharing your progress (this can be your notebook if you're already keeping a journal).
  • Your full attention.  Enough said.
  • A confidence builder.  I get it – there’s a lot of stress at a lesson, especially if you don't have regular lessons.  Anything to help you have a good lesson (maybe a “no fail” piece) is a good idea and will help you settle in.

Being ready will help you have a great lesson and learn a lot.  Be ready!

August 9, 2017

What do you want?




I enjoy teaching lessons.  I learn so much each time and I get to help someone learn - it’s a win-win!  But sometimes it can be challenging.  Teaching regular and recurring lessons to the students in my studio is fun and the progress (and pitfalls) are relatively easy to find.

But when I’m teaching one off lessons, figuring out what I can best offer can be difficult.  That’s when my fervent hope is that the student will be able to tell me what they’d like to get from me.  And few things are more frustrating than the answer, “I don’t know” or “Whatever you want”!


You are paying good money for the lesson, so it’s worth taking a few moments to figure out why you are there!  Don’t know where to start? Here are a few ideas:

  • Consult your practice journal – what continuously crops up? Maybe that is something to work on? 
  • Record yourself – review the recording and find what isn’t working for you (bring the recording if you think it will help).
  • Review your competition comments – judges are great at spotting things you could work on.
  • Are there things you never learned that you’d like to work on (Harmonics? Arpeggios? Key signatures?)? 
  • Is there a specific tune you’ve heard me play that you’d like to learn (please don't ask me to teach you a tune you haven't heard me play - what if i don't know it either?)?

Knowing what you want to get from the lesson before you go in will help both you and the teacher get as much as possible from the time you have. Even a vague idea will make your lesson better – and get you farther along your journey.

August 2, 2017

Back to School



It’s back to school time so it's time to think about learning!  This month we’ll focus on lessons.  Whether you take regular lessons or catch as catch can, this is for you!

Do you take lessons? Sometimes the question is stated, “do you still take lessons?”  Beyond the philosophical discussion of whether every day is a lesson, it’s a good question.  You don't have to have a regular weekly lesson, but I hope your answer is yes!


If your answer is no, you’re probably wondering what could possibly be gained.  After all, you already know how to play.  You’re a self-starter who finds and learns music on your own. You play well enough.  Why would you need to take a lesson?  You certainly don't need regular lessons...do you?  Maybe you do - here are six good reasons to take a lesson (or a series of lessons).

  • To get a fresh perspective on your music
  • To spot and fix those bad habits that crop up on all of us
  • To learn something you didn’t know you needed to learn
  • To get your spark back
  • To refocus or refine your attitude
  • To avoid complacency

We all want to continue to grow and get better and a lesson can be a quick way to get there. There are many ways to schedule lessons - at workshops, at conferences, or with individual teachers.  And typically, teacher enjoy sharing so it's a win-win for all!

I'm sure there are other, additional good reasons to take a lesson - let me know yours!