If it were up to me, every student who plays in band or orchestra would take private music lessons, and every student taking private music lessons would participate in band or orchestra. Students who take private lessons and play in bands or orchestras have the greatest opportunity to grow in both their mastery and enjoyment of their instruments. The best part about playing a band or orchestral instrument is that you can play in a group throughout middle school, high school, and even college. Orchestra and Band are options in almost every school, and in-home music lessons should be an option for every student!
How much teaching can you do when you have five hundred sounds coming at you?
Everyone knows band directors have a tough job. They have a huge group of students playing several different instruments at varying ability levels. Some students are focused and prepared. Some don’t completely understand how to play certain sections and therefore shy away from playing. Some are just plain lost. And some don’t even bring their instruments to rehearsals!
There’s no way a band director can possibly give every student all the attention and help they need to improve at a good pace. That’s where private lessons come in: private music lessons give the student the one-to-one attention students need to succeed and feel good about their playing. If, in band practice, a student repeatedly makes a subtle mistake that is affecting his sound, the band director may not take the time to correct it — if the mistake is even noticed — because there are 500 other sounds coming at the band director at the same time. Private music lessons, which are all about personal attention, are the perfect opportunity to prevent such bad habits from forming.
Band and orchestra mean guaranteed practice time.
Clearly, private lessons have a great positive impact on the student’s performance in band or orchestra every day. But, by the same token, band and orchestra are huge benefits to students taking private lessons. Playing with a group every day at school gives the student the best setting to practice the techniques taught in lessons. Without the constant rehearsal and practice that a band or orchestra class guarantees, private music teachers would have to rely solely on students to practice on their own. And that’s a scary thought! Band and orchestra reinforces what the private instructors are teaching, and private lessons help reinforce what the band and orchestra directors are teaching. We all reinforce each other.
Private lessons offer a competitive edge.
Everyone involved benefits when students who participate in school band or orchestra take private music lessons. Band and orchestra directors enjoy hearing their students’ improvements, which translates to a better ensemble sound. Private music teachers benefit from the practice that band and orchestra represent, and they also have the satisfaction of knowing their students are making higher-quality contributions to the groups in which they play.
But it’s probably the student who benefits the most.
When a student gets an hour-long music lesson every week, he learns special tips and tricks his stand partner may not know, which gives him a competitive edge. When she learns a new concept or technique that hasn’t been covered in band or orchestra yet, she’ll be prepared and ahead of the crowd when the concept or technique is eventually introduced to the group. Students taking private lessons receive extra help for chair tests and region music, all of which helps them move up in their sections. In short, private lessons propel students forward in band and orchestra!
Private lessons and ensemble playing foster leadership.
Students transform when they go from being in the middle of a section to being first or second chair. At that point, they realize that they have talent, that they can win something, that they can be the best. When young students are put in top spots in band or orchestra, they are given leadership and more responsibility.
I love to watch kids take on leadership roles and to see the effect it has on their personalities and on their other academic classes. I think all music students should be given the chance to have an edge on the competition, to discover their hidden abilities, and to form positive personality traits and habits they can take throughout life, whether or not music follows them.