Adult Music Lessons – Learning From Myself

Recently, I wrote a blog about giving lessons to adult students.  However, I also happen to be an adult that is currently taking lessons.  Being a student myself has actually taught me a lot about teaching and has given me a great new perspective on music lessons.

Adult Music Lessons

Adult Music Lessons
I have taken lessons before in the past.  When I started playing music at age 13, I started with lessons and have been taking lessons on and off ever since.  Music lessons helped me then and they continue to help me now.  I feel that starting with music lessons is essential to learning proper techniques and skills that will help you all throughout the musical career.  Now, music lessons are helping me explore new depths of my playing and continue to help me grow and push forward.  I am very grateful that music lessons are still such a huge part of my life!

Fumbling Isn’t Just About Football

Taking lessons now as an adult has allowed me to empathize with my students on a new level.  During my most recent lesson, I was having difficult playing one passage I had practiced.  I would fumble with it, then start again faster.  Then, I would fumble with it again and start it again even faster.  My teacher stopped me.  “Instead of trying to play it faster, try playing it much slower!”.  I let the words sink in and the realization hit me that I had said the very same thing to one of my students the day before.

Slow Down Your Music

This was one of those moments that made a huge impression on me.  I constantly have to tell my kids to slow down on a piece that they are having trouble with.  Before that moment, I wondered why they couldn’t just do it.  Why do they have to keep speeding it up when I keep telling them to slow down?  Don’t they realize that the only way to get better at something is to slow it down first?

Music Students Get Frustrated, Even Me

Now that I just did exactly what I’ve been telling my kids not to do, I learned a few things.  First, I learned that I must be even kinder and gentler to my students.  I guess I forgot how frustrating it can be to not be able to play something in the lesson that you were able to play just yesterday.  In fact, it is always very frustrating when you are unable to play something.  I was reminded of what that feels like and now I can share that compassion with my students.

The Spaces Between Each Music Note

I also learned a thing or two about wanting to speed up.  My teacher explained it to me like this:  The natural tendency is to speed up because you can more easily get away with not playing a piece perfectly if it sounds fast.  All of the spaces in between each note decrease and therefore, it makes it harder to hear if you’re not playing something correctly in time.  However, when you slow something down, all of the mistakes are readily exposed by the amount of space between each note.
Making Sense Of It All
This makes a lot more sense to me now why I made the subconscious choice to speed up and why my students tend to do so as well.  My students may not be able to fully understand this concept yet, but I do and my understanding will help me to be a better teacher now.  Instead of rewarding “how fast can you play this?” my new goal will be to help reward “how slow can you play this?”.  This shift in gratification will not be easy, but it is my job as a teacher to make sure that the student feels good about the right things.

Private Music Lessons Influence Private Music Teachers

Taking lessons as an adult has not only improved my playing, but has also heavily influenced my teaching.  It is always good to practice what you preach and be able to relate to your students.  When the student gets frustrated, I can now show them that I’m working on frustrating things as well, and this strengthens our relationship.  Taking music lessons as an adult is one of the best things I’ve ever done for myself.

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