When starting out with a new teacher, it often feels like you have to start playing the "student" right away. It can feel a bit like your first meeting is a demonstration of how all your future lessons will look.
This article is meant to remind you that, like all 1 to 1 relationships, the atmosphere, status, and goals set forth between you and your teacher in private lessons can be fluid. I was recently very pleased to hear a client of mine say "I'd like to set aside the work we've been doing to look at this other issue I've been having with my voice." SO much was revealed in that sentence that our lesson that day was incredibly satisfying.
Here are three questions to ask yourself (or your young one) before going into any lesson, but especially the first one. Hopefully your teacher will ask you some version of these questions when you meet but if they don't you'll know what you want to communicate to them if you're prepared.
1-. What hunger am I wanting these lessons to satisfy in me?
This is purposefully a bit more nuanced than "what are you hoping to get?"
Do I need to satisfy a creative itch? Then perhaps the teacher will take a cue to help your warm ups be self-composed.
Does music satisfy my need to express emotion? Then perhaps the teacher can find a true variety of sororities in order to balance joy and sorrow.
Am I hungry for a career as a professional musician? Then perhaps the teacher will feed in advice about the business.
2-. Who have been the best teachers in my life and what qualities do they have in common?
If you can identify how you learn then you can ask your teacher to take on certain aspects of that experience. Obviously each teacher will have their own personality and their own progressions for learning, but they are only half of the story.
If you learn best when you are moving- then ask the teacher to get you away from the piano bench occasionally to discuss musical vocabulary or dance to a recording.
If one little piece of feedback can stilt you for the remainder of the hour, ask the teacher to help you talk through any notes they want to give in order to contextualize them.
If you need to practice something more often than your peers to get it right, then ask your teacher to repeat the same exercises many weeks in a row before moving on.
3-. If something isn't going well, how do I usually to handle it?
Teaching is a job that requires consistency. Your teacher is going to want you to sign up for regular lessons, preferably indefinitely. Sometimes this can make a student feel like they are in an all-or-nothing situation. If lessons aren't going the way they want them to it feels like they will continue to do so for a very long time. But I am here to tell you that you are in control of ensuring that lessons go the way you want them to.
If you tend to run away or shy away from talking about how you feel- ask you teacher to check in with you once a month to see if there's something you'd like them to change.
If you tend to feel uncomfortable not having control, ask your teacher to give you well laid out plans for the week ahead so that you can know what to expect.
The most important thing is to remember that your lessons go best when you know what you want from them and you communicate that desire clearly.