Where do I begin? There are so many benefits to taking private music lessons. For anyone, of any age, interested in music, private lessons are one of the most effective ways to improve. In addition to basic techniques, a private teacher will tailor each lesson to the student’s specific needs. Every student is different. Every student has strengths and weaknesses. Every student comes to the first lesson with a different background. Every student has different interests. I have exercises and repertoire that I use with students to teach technique and music fundamentals, but there are also different things I do with each student based on their needs at any given time. If they are auditioning for something, we will work on audition repertoire and skills. If they have a performance or competition coming up, we will work on the repertoire chosen for that event. I work on music theory with all of my students, but some want to dive deeper and so we do. I have some students who occasionally bring an instrument to their lessons (or use my piano) to share a song they are performing with their instrument or even that they have written.
Private lessons set students up for musical success. I love introducing students to new concepts and new literature. I love all kinds of music and certain vocal literature really works when teaching techniques that are beneficial for all styles of singing. Students of all ages love folk songs and art songs and I have found that many of my students have not been exposed to traditional vocal literature. Once we start discussing the texts and discovering the meanings of the songs, it is fun and exciting to explore these new styles. Students tend to be more familiar with musical theatre, which is fantastic! There are solo pieces from musicals that fit every age and range. Musical theatre allows us to explore characters and acting a little differently than the classical repertoire. Variety is important! I love when students introduce me to new songs. Over the years, I have explored pop, jazz, rock, country, Christian contemporary, hymns, original compositions…all kinds of music with students. It is fun to have them teach me something about music that they love and are performing!
Private lessons help students not only to learn new repertoire and techniques, but the lessons help them to stay motivated. Practicing is tough! While singing or playing an instrument is fun, learning new music can be challenging, especially when you are trying to work through new technique or repertoire. Knowing that you have a lesson in a few days is a great motivator! Progress takes time, and often we don’t really notice it ourselves. Having a teacher to point out what has improved is incredibly helpful and motivating. Even though students think they can fool us, music teachers can always tell if a student has practiced or not! I often need to remind students that practicing is not just singing through a song from beginning to end. It is stopping and starting and fixing the difficult measures. It is singing a moving passage over and over. It is taking time to read through the text out loud to make sure that you know and understand all of the words. It is spending time thinking about the emotions you want to convey as you sing the song. It may be tedious, but it is rewarding! Students benefit from having a private teacher notice the incremental progress.
Music makes your brain work. New students of all ages are often surprised that singing is hard work! Many people are used to hearing a song enough times that they know it well enough to sing along. Learning to tackle a song independently is a new challenge! Reading pitch, rhythm, dynamics, expression markings, and text all at the same time is a challenge! Singing a solo with accompaniment is different than singing in a group or with a recording. I’ve had adult students tell me that taking lessons has completely changed how they listen to music. One said that he kept thinking, “What would Alison say?” when he listened to some of his favorite artists after taking lessons for a few months. It makes you think about music differently. It is rewarding to know that you can take a page of notes and text and turn it into a song. You can convey emotion and beauty and meaning through your melody and words.
This is why I do what I do. I love watching students, young and not so young, discover. Discover new things about their voices and musicianship, discover new music that they didn’t know existed, discover new emotions and abilities within themselves. So much can be learned from singing! I have had many students continue to study music in some form throughout their lives. Some of those students pursue music professionally, but many of them pursue music for pleasure. My hope is always that each student I have had the joy of working with will continue to discover and make new music, taking a piece of what we learned and created together with them forever.