Studying private music lessons with an instructor can be an incredibly rewarding experience! It is my belief that music lessons can be both fun and educational. I like to take a human-first approach because each student is unique.
However, working 1-1 with a teacher and mentor it is a little different than a traditional classroom experience because it is just you and them. Therefore, this article goes over a few etiquette suggestions that can help ensure you have a positive and successful experience.
1) Warm up before your lesson
Warming up prior to your lesson will not only help you feel better about your playing, but it will allow you to get more out of the lesson. If you don’t warm up before your lesson, you will essentially be using your lesson time to get warmed up. This will make it hard to make any progress during your lesson time.
If you are coming to your lesson directly from school or work, try to find some time to warm up earlier in the day. Even if it isn’t right beforehand, it will still make a difference. If that isn’t possible, discuss the options with your teacher to see if there is another lesson time that might work better for you.
Beginners should spend at least 10-15 minutes warming up and more advanced students anywhere from 20-40 minutes.
2) Arrive at your lesson a few minutes early
Showing up a little before your scheduled lesson will ensure you are there on-time with a few minutes to spare. In many cases, private teachers schedule lessons back-to-back and showing up late means you will be missing valuable time in your lesson (that you are paying for!).
It is also important to respect your instructor’s time. If you have a slot blocked time in their schedule, this means they have reserved that time and are waiting for you.
3) Bring all your music (and other necessary accessories)
Showing up without your music (or other accessories) essentially means you’ve brought nothing to work on. Keep your music in a music bag or with your instrument so you don’t forget it! You may also consider a small or previously owned tablet for digital music storage.
4) Always practice between lessons
If you don’t practice at all between your private music lessons your improvement will be slow, if any. Without practice your paid lesson time is essentially a waste of your time and money. Additionally, it can be frustrating for teachers to have to repeat the same thing each week.
If you are having a hard time practicing between lessons but want too, be honest with your teacher. They should be able to help you overcome common obstacles that might be keeping you from practicing. We have all been there!
5) Feel free to ask questions
One of the things that will help make your lessons more successful (and more fun) is open communication. As teachers, we try to be mind-readers, but ultimately it can be hard to know what is going on.
If you are not sure about something, are having a bad day and feel like it’s affecting you’re playing, or have concerns, let your teacher know. It will help your teacher be able to help you!
5) Don’t play while your teacher is still talking
Often instructors will take some extra time to explain something and/or tell a story to help the concept make sense. Wait until your teacher is completely done talking to start playing your instrument.
While you may be eager to try what your teacher just told you to do, please wait! If you are playing that means you aren’t listening.
6) Pay at time of service
Unless you are paying in advance for your private music lessons, make sure you are prepared to pay for your lesson before you leave (or immediately after).
This ensures that your teacher is compensated for their time, but also prevents them from having to track down payment (which can be time consuming and difficult to keep track of).
7) Cancel in advance of your private music lessons
Most private studios have a cancelation policy. Take the time to read what it is and ask questions if you need to.
Even if the studio doesn’t have a cancelation policy, be courteous and cancel at least 24-hours in advance. This allows your teacher to make other arrangements and fill that time with something else.
Many instructors schedule very tight schedules, and a last-minute cancelation (or no-show) means they are likely going to have to sit around and kill time until the next student shows up (for no pay!).
8) Buy music right away (and bring it to your next lesson)
If your teacher asks you to buy sheet music, plan on purchasing it right away. This means they are hoping to get started with it at your next lesson.
If you don’t buy it right away and show up at your next lesson without it, this is the same as #3. It means you are showing up with nothing to work on.
If you can’t afford it or need further assistance, be honest with them so they can help you!