ClarinetMike’s Top 10 Tips for Successful Private Lessons!

ClarinetMike says, “Notice that successful private lessons begin and end with practicing.”

Schools of all kinds are starting here in the USA and for most music students that means back to private lessons. For many students it also means a new city, new school, and a new private lesson teacher. The tips below will help students get the most out of private lessons.

ClarinetMike’s Top 10 Tips for Successful Private Lessons!
by Dr. Michael Dean “ClarinetMike”

  1. Practice. Treat private lessons like an academic class. Carefully and completely do your homework = LOTS OF GREAT DAILY PRACTICE!
  2. Warm Up and Be Early. Warm up thoroughly before the lesson. Show up 5 minutes early to the lesson with instrument “ready to go” and wait patiently outside your teacher’s studio door.
  3. No Beeps, Buzzers or Bells. Turn off cell phone and other gizmos during the lesson and while waiting patiently outside the studio door.
  4. LISTEN! Be eager to listen and learn from the teacher. The point of lessons is to learn how to play the instrument better. Lessons are not meant for you to play the entire time. If the teacher makes no comments, you didn’t get a lesson!
  5. COURTESY! Always treat the teacher with respect and courtesy, even if you don’t feel well or the teacher is cranky – you are taking lessons to get better on the instrument, NOT to hang out with a “buddy.”
  6. Write It Down. After the lesson, write down what was discussed, assignments, etc. Keeping a notebook for lessons is a great idea.
  7. Lock It In. Make a point to practice at least a little soon after the lesson. This will help “lock in” what was taught.
  8. Practice Wisely. Make sure you practice all that the teacher assigns in the way that the teacher has directed you.
  9. Do Extra. Show initiative and do extra work in your lesson preparation. For example, if your teacher assigns you to listen to a recording of a work, listen to 3 recordings.
  10. Practice Log. Keep a practice log of all practicing. Putting it on your wall or near your work desk will remind you to practice.

BONUS: Steps Ahead. Remember that your private lesson teacher will likely be writing a letter of recommendation for you in the future. So please follow these tips.

About ClarinetMike

American Clarinetist Michael Dean “ClarinetMike” performs and teaches internationally and across the USA to consistent praise and acclaim such as, “world-class clarinetist and pedagogue,” “consummate performer,” “inspirational,” “outstanding teacher,” “super,” “brilliant performer,” and “one of the best clinicians I have ever seen.” Dr. Michael Dean’s career is headlined by appearances at Carnegie Hall, ClarinetFest, NACWPI, Royal Northern College of Music, and Eastman School of Music, with recent recitals and master classes in Italy, Canada, Spain, Michigan, Ohio, Kansas, Iowa, Louisiana, and Texas. He is currently planning an international recital and master class tour of Israel for spring 2022. He is on the faculty of the international Orfeo Music Festival in Vipiteno, Italy as Clarinet Artist Faculty in Residence. Michael Dean performed with the Paducah Symphony Orchestra for 11 years and has also performed with the Dallas Chamber Wind Ensemble, Southwest Symphony, Nevada Symphony, Abilene Philharmonic, Abilene Opera, Southeast Chamber Players, Red Mesa Trio, and Duo 35 with saxophonist Todd Oxford. As a clarinet performing and recording artist, he has commissioned, premiered, edited, toured with, and recorded new and lesser-known clarinet works. He is featured on 6 commercial CDs, including the soon-to-be-released Postcards from Silver Lake CD. He is also prominent on New Media, such as YouTube and Facebook. He has given more than 600 master classes, clinics and performances at universities, colleges, conservatories, festivals, conferences, and high schools. His ClarinetMike Blog and ClarinetMike QuickTips are widely read on the internet and social media and viewed in more than 150 countries on 6 continents. His articles also appear in professional journals such as Southwestern Musician, WINDPLAYER, The Bandmasters’ Review, and NACWPI Journal. He is a past president and former National Board Officer of the National Association of College Wind and Percussion Instructors (NACWPI). A committed teacher and noted pedagogue, Dr. Dean’s students enjoy successful careers as professional performers, educators, and administrators and are consistently accepted into prestigious university music schools. They consistently win awards and distinctions at competitions and festivals including solo & ensemble, all-region, all-state, and various concerto and other competitions. After a successful 20 years of teaching the clarinet and music at the university level, he relocated to his native Texas due to family concerns. He is currently an active clarinet and woodwind performer, teacher, clinician, and consultant based in Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas. Dr. Michael Dean studied clarinet performance at Texas Tech University, University of Texas at Austin, University of Colorado at Boulder, and University of Texas at Arlington. His teachers include Robert Walzel, Philip Aaholm, Carol Jessup, and Jesse Youngblood. He is a BG France Performing Artist and his professional website is clarinetmike.com. Mike and his family live in Hurst, Texas. His family’s new Golden Retriever, Nimbus, is a relative of Andy.
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5 Responses to ClarinetMike’s Top 10 Tips for Successful Private Lessons!

  1. Emily Skala says:

    Terrific advice Mike!

  2. Pingback: Favorite blog posts, August 2019 | Bret Pimentel, woodwinds

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