How to have a good lesson

I’ve taught lots of woodwind lessons, from beginner to college level. Here are some things that I look for in a good, successful lesson:

  • Has the student made progress since the previous lesson? If things sound the same as last time, that’s not a good sign. I can tell when students are focusing their practice time on improving things about their playing, instead of just mindlessly playing the piece over and over. If we discussed specific things that needed improvement, have those specifics improved?
  • Is the student in lesson mode? In other words, are they warmed up, with their instrument and all their materials ready and organized, with a pencil, and in the right mental space? Are they rested, fed, and otherwise in condition to play their best? A distracted or frazzled student isn’t in their best state for a good lesson.
  • Does the student have questions, observations, or requests for help? Everybody learns differently, but it should be rare for a student to engage deeply with assigned materials all week long and then have no curiosity, no goals still out of reach, no identified problems that need solutions.

A good lesson is the result of good preparation!

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