Making the Most of Your Lesson
How to Practice (letter to Parents and Students)
Study Guide for Solos
Sample Music / Recordings Available
MAKING THE MOST OF YOUR LESSONS
Studying a musical instrument can be one of the most rewarding endeavors a person can undertake. Having said that, there are many things a person can do to maximize the experience.
Be prepared for your lesson
- Show up for the lesson ready to play.
- Don’t waste lesson time trying to find a reed that will work - or starting the lesson with a dry reed. Reeds take about 5 minutes to get thoroughly soaked, so if you wait until the lesson starts to put the reed in your mouth you waste time. It is not unusual for a student to putter around for 10 minutes of a 30 minute lesson getting a reed to play. Make sure your reed is good and ready to go when the lesson starts. As a rule, have at least 4 good reeds in your case at all times.
- Be on time for your lesson. I can’t wait or extend my schedule.
- Don’t forget your music, neckstrap, reeds, etc.
- If you have music that needs to be studied for band class or other activities let me know when the lesson begins.
Students who do not practice cannot succeed. This is a fact that does not change with the busy schedules many of us have today. Students that schedule too many activities usually do poorly in all of them. While it is fortunate that we have so many opportunities in our area for students, this myriad of activities can, and will, work to our disadvantage if we are not careful. I do not expect every student to be a music fanatic, nor do I expect anyone to carry their music studies to the professional level. Be aware, however, that without time to study, success at any endeavor will be compromised. Choose the way you spend your time very wisely. I will provide practice sheets for younger students to use. These can be very helpful in guiding your study.
It is your responsibility to have an instrument in good working order and to have at least four good reeds. Every clarinet and saxophone player must have a reed guard that holds four reeds (or two reed guards that hold 2 reeds). Wasting a lesson because of the lack of a reed is not good for you or me (remember, I am obligated to improve your playing at every lesson). Reed prices are much lower if you buy reeds by the box, and often it is cheaper to purchase reeds through the mail. I will have reeds available for students to purchase that are in immediate need. Woodwind instruments should be taken to a good repair shop once each year for a checkup and adjustment. Pads tend to wear over time, and students often adjust to “leaks” in the instrument. This usually results in the student developing bad habits which are difficult to correct. I will check each instrument periodically and let you know of any items that need to be repaired.
Mouthpieces and Reeds
The mouthpiece that comes with a student model instrument is the result of a business decision on the part of the instrument company. These student model mouthpieces are of poor quality. More progress can be made in one minute with a good mouthpiece than in years of struggling on a bad one. Fortunately, this is the least expensive aspect of the equipment (other than the reed). If the decision is made to purchase a better mouthpiece, I will have several for you to try to help find the one that fits you best. I have never heard a student with a good sound that played on a student model mouthpiece.
Reeds are a fact of life for clarinet and saxophone players. Most saxophone players will need # 2 1/2 or #3 Vandoren reeds and most clarinet players will need # 3 or #3 1/2 Vandoren reeds.
There are many excellent software programs available today that are truly remarkable in what they offer. A large majority of my students use a program called Smart Music that makes practice more fun and extremely effective. Other programs teach theory in way that dramatically increases the understanding and enjoyment of music.
Metronome, tuner, music stand
Smart Music includes a metronome and tuner as part of the package. Otherwise it would be very helpful to invest $10.00 for a small metronome and $25.00 for a tuner (or $20.00 per year license fee for Smart Music). Every student will also need a small wire stand to use for practice at home.
CD collection, concerts
Finally, no one ever succeeded in music without listening to music. What one does in a lesson is learn how to study. The more one listens to music the better. I will provide lists of suggested recordings. My goal is to help each student to develop to his/her fullest potential and at the fastest rate possible. Listening is crucial to that progress.