Private lessons have a notably positive impact on a string musician's progress and ability. First and foremost, private lessons provide customized – and differentiated – instruction for the string player, ensuring s/he remains at the edge of the learning curve.
The most important step is to find the right teacher, as that makes all the difference in keeping a music student inspired and accountable. Once you’ve found the right instructor, you'll uncover multiple benefits of the 1:1 teacher/student ratio.
Scheduling flexibility and customization
Unlike most group lessons, or school orchestra practices, private lessons are scheduled at the student's convenience. In fact, this benefit may play into how you find the right teacher – you may need to find an instructor that offers flexible times to fit with your school, work, or family life schedule.
Keep a student inspired
Unless your child is playing a string instrument in an advanced band or orchestra, odds are they are learning and practicing with peers demonstrating a broad range of musical interests, abilities, and commitment. This can be a detriment if your child is closer to the bottom, or at the top, of that range.
Struggling students find it frustrating and demeaning to work hard and see little progress because the teacher has to teach to the middle, or may pay particular interest to “star” students. On the opposite end of the spectrum, naturally gifted players become bored or rarely feel challenged in a school music class or a community youth orchestra. In addition to holding advanced students back, lack of challenge or learning can diminish these talented students’ passion. They lose their inspiration since school-based, instructional time is boring and annoying, rather than productive. In worst case scenarios, gifted students express their boredom by becoming classroom antagonists. This leads to getting into trouble or expulsion from the group, rather than receiving the level-matched instruction they deserve.
Private lessons are the solution to both problems, offering supplemental instruction and personalized support for struggling musicians while providing extra challenge and skill-matched instruction for more astute students.
Receive instant feedback
Bad habits are hard to break, and that’s where instant feedback is helpful. You can learn all you want about the ideal posture for playing and bowing your string instrument, but that doesn’t mean your body complies with what the brain “knows.”
Instant feedback and physical correction by an instructor, combined with watching yourself in a mirror as you practice, are the best ways to develop correct muscle memory for what you want to accomplish, rather than what you unconsciously do. In a group format, especially classes with 20 or more students, instant feedback/correction is nearly impossible to receive from the instructor. With private lessons, you get feedback immediately, allowing you to correct any bad habits or playing mistakes before they become wired into the brain.
Achieve specific goals
Setting goals is one of the best ways to get the most out of your private lessons. In some cases, specific goals are the very reason to begin taking private lessons. For example, private lessons are used to:
- Master a particularly challenging piece
- Correct incorrect posture or poor techniques – habits that may have developed without the support of private lessons when you or your child learned to play in a looser, group environment
- Select, prepare, and fine-tune your audition piece(s)
- Develop and perfect a solo recital lineup
Your goal may require only one or two lessons, or it may take several months or longer. You may also find the private lesson setting so effective that you continue the lessons for longer than initially planned.
To expand your genre horizons
Often, children’s first exposure to string instrument music and lessons comes in very formal and classical packaging. This resonates with some, but others may want to venture out and explore other genres of string music.
If you’re playing in an orchestra or band, a private string instructor can help you explore different playing styles, transforming your classical high school orchestra violin into a bluegrass or rock-and-roll fiddle by night – same instrument, very different sounds. Many would argue that using your string instrument to explore other musical genres, learning to play music outside the classical sphere, optimizes musicianship and enhances improvisational skills.
All of the world’s greatest string musicians have taken – or still take – private lessons. They frequently pay homage to their teachers and mentors for helping them to become the stellar musicians they are today. Your private lessons could be the key to achieving a higher level of musicianship than is possible via the traditional group, classroom, or DIY learning environment.