Updated: Dec 2, 2019
Raise your hand if you took private music lessons as a child! If your hand is in the air, tell me: what did your lessons look like?
Wait, wait - let me guess first! You sat down at the piano (or took out your instrument, or stood next to the keyboard for your voice lesson, etc.), and the teacher asked you how practicing went this week. He/she may have asked to see your practice chart, or how many days this week you practiced your XX number of minutes.
Then, you played your homework from last week for the teacher, and (if you hadn't practiced much) received some instructions on how to improve... or maybe you were awarded that coveted check mark on the page, meaning you could move on to the next exercise!
There may have been a few minutes of music theory that you squirmed through, and then you were assigned new music to go home and practice, repeating the cycle for next week's lesson.
Did I describe it correctly? I didn't have to be at your childhood lessons to know what they looked like, because we've been teaching music in the same way for decades.
While I'm a classically-trained musician and I have enormous amounts of respect for our musical traditions, I believe we can mix things up and improve our kids' private lesson experience these days. Rather than subscribing to the "one-size-fits-all" style, I prefer to take time to learn about what excites each of my students and tailor our lessons to what they're interested in.
With so many choices for after-school activities these days, kids are pulled in 100 directions at once. If we manage to get them to choose music over the 90 other things they could do instead, we need to honor their choice by making lessons a positive and engaging time of learning. If they dread walking into their lesson each week, I guarantee they'll quit soon after, and become another adult that wishes wistfully that they had stuck with their lessons longer as a child.
My goal as a teacher is to encourage a passion for music in my students, while teaching a solid foundation of skills and concepts.
In pursuit of this goal, I don't scold or punish my students if they don't practice. In fact, we don't keep track at all (unless they choose to themselves). Of course, I'm always honest with them, reminding them that the more they practice on their own, the faster we'll advance through the material. But that choice is up to them. If they don't practice at all one week, we might skip the workbook all together (GASP!) and work on something entirely different.
I also consistently incorporate new elements in our lessons, such as technology or games, as well as frequently changing up the structure of lessons entirely. Instead of the lesson described above, my students may walk in to a history lesson about the composer of their latest piece, or we may have another student joining their lesson this week to practice duets.
The bottom line is: is you're looking for a strict music teacher who will force your students to improve quickly and prepare them for serious musical study later in life, then I'm probably not your gal.
But if you and your child are looking for a fun and rewarding extra-curricular activity, that benefits him/her in every-day life and studies (more on that here) and provides a relaxed atmosphere of fun and learning, then I might be your perfect fit!