This is a question I receive all of the time, particularly among my younger students. They are used to things starting, happening, and then later finishing. Even school, they are told, which consumes the majority of their lives as kids, will come to an end after a fixed amount of years. So when I tell them that music lessons never end, they never quite seem to understand.
Am I Really Done?
When I look back on the early years of my musical instruction, I get a pang of regret and sadness that my first instructor didn’t quite share this viewpoint. I was a fantastic student, always practicing and wanting to improve my skills. After a few years, my first instructor told me he couldn’t really teach me anymore, that I had learned and practiced everything he had to offer me. At the time, I really appreciated his honesty. I thought, ok, I’m done with lessons. I now know how to play the drums. I have graduated and now I’m ready to go into the world as a drummer (at 15 years old).
Recommending A New Teacher
I really learned a lot from this particular teacher and I completely understand that he didn’t feel comfortable teaching me anything new. However, I wish he had pointed me in the direction of someone who could continue to teach me new things. I would have continued learning in my formative years and who knows how much better of a musician I would be now?
Instead, I took a break from lessons for about two years, and then I started percussion lessons. In my young mind, I truly thought that there was nothing left to be learned after those first two years of drum lessons. I studied percussion privately, and then in college and while I was in college, I took drum set lessons for the first time in about seven years! At that point, I definitely realized that there was A LOT more for me to learn!
Hindsight Is 20/20
I now see what a huge mistake I had made in stopping my momentum of learning. I had lost a few important years of practicing, but I’m not letting that stop me or slow me down now. I made a commitment to myself to not lose any more years in my adulthood! I still take private lessons to this day and I am still practicing and improving. I love learning and I love playing and I now realize that music lessons really should never end. There is always more to learn. There are an infinite number of sounds and patterns and notes and grooves and feelings that you can create from an instrument.
Easing Student Into The Idea That Music Lessons Don’t End
How do I explain that to my students who ask this question? I let them know that I’m in the same boat as them. I let them know that I have a teacher that I see every week and that I have to practice every day too. Sometimes, I show them what I’m working on, if they ask. I try to play things that are too hard for me to play and I mess up and I show them that I can improve upon it with practice.
Love The Journey Of Learning
I tell them even my teacher has a teacher. I tell them that music is special because you can always improve and get better and play more and more beautifully each day. The truth is, there is no end to music lessons because as good as you can ever get at your instrument, there is always someone out there who can show you something new and can teach you something different. This is a lesson that I learned on my musical journey and I try every day to share this with my students.