Practice is important and fundamental in becoming a successful musician; but how important is practice to having successful music lessons? There are those teachers out there that practice a policy of exclusion, “practice your instrument or don’t take lessons (at least not with me). ” This post aims to examine what else our music students learn from their lessons and how being open minded to a non-practicing student can change your life and theirs.
On a global scale there are two types of teachers. The first are those who only want practicing students. “I’m guilty of dreaming of a student base of only kids who practiced. Taking them to student festivals, introducing them to my favorite composers, sharing with them the blah, blah, blah”……WAKE UP! It’s not going to happen that way. Then secondly, there are those teachers who find more in a music lesson than just the music.
Music students follow a 1-8-1 rule. Out of every ten students, one loves it, eight are o.k. with it, and one student wants to rip his guts out rather then take a music lesson. Lets ignore (for the sake of this post) the one student who loves music lessons (he or she will be just fine). What can be gained for the other nine?
• A consistent role model who cares about them whether they meet lesson expectations or not. Unconditional teacher/student relationships. YES, it’s the only way to teach.
• An appreciation for what a musician is. They learn this through a teacher’s passion that is expressed through music.
• The recital song – every student plays in the recital and they learn that even if you don’t love music, they can successfully play that piece if they have to. My mother-in-law can still play her recital song 50 years after she performed it. She hasn’t had a piano in 45 years but when she walks up to one out comes the song. SUCCESS!
• “The Click” – sometimes it just clicks. One of my favorite student stories is of Matt. Matt did not practice one day in three years and then one day, “Click!” and the rest is history. He now plays professionally.
• A closer family relationship, that’s right. When a parent and student share an experience, they have more in common and can relate better with one another.
• Music Stuff – we all remember lessons in some part, even years after we learned them. Music theory, history, literature, and more are covered in each lesson. Who doesn’t recognize the names Mozart, Beethoven, Bach, Van Halen!
• Part of success in life is learning perseverance. Finishing a task that you may not want to finish. Compare that to taking five years of piano lessons that you didn’t love.
• Working and listening to a teacher can benefit your life, even if you don’t follow or complete every lesson.
Some music teachers reading this are probably shaking their head and saying “that was my teacher growing up, and that’s why I am a musician today”. We can all benefit from taking a look at the different approaches and see that maybe, just maybe, there is intrinsic value in the time given to the lesson itself. (And yes, we all know practicing helps)