Most of us have had so many lessons in our life that there would be no way to number them. How many of those lessons do we actually remember? We were learning along the way, or just going through the daily grind? These days everyone is busy all the time, but are we being as efficient with our time as possible? Are we just being busy, or are we accomplishing things? I have compiled some ideas that might help your lessons be more beneficial.
- Record your lesson. We can only retain so much information. Many times once we stop playing in the lesson, we are thinking about things we missed or would like to have another shot at instead of listening to the advice of the instructor. Listening back to the lesson at some point during the week allows one to assimilate more information from the lesson. Recording the lesson also gives you an opportunity for regular feedback. Listening to yourself perform can be rewarding; it can also be eye-opening.
- Have a game plan for your lesson. Be prepared. Know your assignments. Have a clear plan of what you want to accomplish in the lesson. Be proactive and tell your teacher what you would like to play instead of asking, “What would you like me to play?”
- Come with questions. Have you encountered issues you want to ask about throughout the course of the week? Your lesson is the perfect opportunity to ask these questions. Questions on any musical topic from what music to buy, to discussing career goals or graduate school, to questions about inconsistencies between different editions of music. Ask these at the beginning of the lesson so that there is time to answer them. As a student, some of my best lessons were lessons where I didn’t play a note. I seemed to learn much more when I was listening, rather than talking or playing.
- Bring a notebook. Write down your assignments and goals for the week. It’s easy to forget them, especially if you have to speed off to another class or rehearsal right after your lesson. If you write it down you are more likely to remember it. If you refer to your notebook on a regular basis, you are sure to remember it.