Lessons vs. Band class
In band class, students learn teamwork through ensemble playing and get exposed to different
kinds of music. A band program’s biggest asset is students taking lessons from highly qualified
private teachers. When the individuals in the band can play at a high level with beautiful tone,
intonation, and musicianship, the band music can also play to those standards. A band director
has a huge job to teach 60+ students on 15+ instruments for a <1 hour period. It would be
unfair to expect a band director to teach each student individually in such a large class on
such a mix of instruments, with a large variety of idiosyncrasies per instrument and per
student. Qualified private teachers are key!
Why one-hour lessons?
Within one lesson, we need time to time to warm up, assess and correct assignments, and teach
new skills. Thirty-minute lessons work well for beginners to build a base for learning. Once
a student has a foundation, an intensive hour is needed to properly build upon those
foundational skills to develop advanced musicianship!
In a one-hour lesson, I break it down so that students will have the best use of their lesson
time. It takes about 15-20 minutes to warm up properly and learn to improve tone through
tone studies. We then spend another 15-20 minutes working on scales and scales patterns (the
foundation for all music, i.e. band and solo music) and technique studies. We then spend the
remainder of the lesson on etudes, difficult parts of band music, and solo repertoire to
learn musicality, interpretation, and theory of music. Within the lessons, I make a point to
teach the students how to practice, not just play through, the music at home, how much time
they should spend on each item, and what the goals are for each item. I believe that it is
important as a teacher to teach the students practice techniques for home practice to ensure
efficient progress and use of time.
When should I start taking lessons?
Students that start taking lessons earlier develop good habits from the start and get past the
frustrating beginning stages of playing more quickly. Students that start taking lessons later
spend more time unlearning bad habits and relearning basics properly in order to make the gains
Many of my best students have started as young as elementary school or first year of band.
Why take lessons? Can’t I learn it in a book?
A good book will tell you which buttons to press down and the rhythms will tell you when.
However, a book doesn’t give you feedback on tone, hand position, posture, breathing,
musicality, phrasing, and everything that makes making music a form of human expression. A great
teacher can quickly identify problem and instruct the students how to correct them. A great
teacher is going to help a student move past the frustrating beginning stages of playing more
quickly than a book, helping the learning process become more rewarding.
Can’t I learn to make a good sound from listening to recordings?
You should learn what a great sound is through listening to recordings, but only a qualified and
experienced private teacher can tell you exactly what to do with you mouth, lips, jaw, tongue,
tongue, throat, posture, etc. to get you to make your best sound. Everyone has their own voice
on an instrument and everyone’s voice can be developed into something beautiful!
Who should I take lessons with?
It is important to find a teacher with an expertise in teaching that instrument and will
challenge the student to be his/her best. An effective teacher will quickly identify problems
and teach the student how to fix them. An effective teacher will insist upon the basics being
learned first and teach the student to build upon them. An effective teacher will insist upon
only the best from each student and will not allow mediocrity.
What should I learn in lessons?
For a checklist for finding a new teacher, click HERE
. In lessons, primary attention should always be given to
foundations such as posture, hand/finger position, breathing, tone, and scales so that they can
be built upon with etudes and repertoire. Learning foundational skills will make all music you
play much easier, from band music, to solo music, to audition music! This means you will be able
to play more types of music! .
My cousin/sister/friend/uncle played X instrument in high school. Isn’t he/she “good enough”
to teach me?
For a teacher to be “good enough”, please consider this - When a student takes math, english,
science, we want them to have expert teachers that have been trained to teach in that area at a
high level. Even if a student doesn’t plan to become an engineer, writer, or scientist, we want
the best trained teachers! But why? Because a great teacher is effective and efficient! That
means that the students are able to improve quickly, minimizing frustration. A frustrated
student that is not improving is frequently turned off of the subject due to lasting
frustration. Conversely, a student that makes quick progress feels more enjoyment and
satisfaction and is more likely to be encouraged by the progress to go farther. A
cousin/sister/friend/uncle who has played the instrument at a high school level does not have
the expertise to effectively and efficiently teach a student. Qualified professionals are key to
successful band programs and musicians!
What do I need to do to take lessons with you?
If you have a curiosity for music, want to improve quickly, have a positive attitude and willing
trying new things, and are ready to commit to regular practicing (at least 5 days per week at 30
min/day for jr high or 1 hr/day for high school and above), please inquire about openings in the