Music Lessons Are A Lifelong Pursuit
The myth of “Instant Learning” and the “Magic Bullet” approach to education is older than snake oil. Any music teacher who’s been around for long enough has seen these things come and go, but one thing remains constant: as P.T. Barnum famously said, “There’s a sucker born every second”.
In other words, there’s definitely a market for the fantasy of overnight success… but it’s kind of like being at a carnival, playing rigged games. At the end of the day they take your money, and maybe you take home a cheap plastic trinket. But most people don’t get the 6 foot tall stuffed animal.
If you’re looking for true mastery, it won’t happen overnight. It takes practice!
Teachers know this of course. That’s why even though we’re always looking for fresh approaches, new ideas, and interesting challenges, we tend to stay grounded in the fundamentals.
Most of the teachers I know have a handful of basic lessons they run everyone through. You could think of it as basic training, what martial artists would define as the curriculum up to Black Belt.
It may sound strange but the Black Belt is just the beginning. It’s the level where the fundamental techniques are mastered to a point of unconscious recall. It’s the foundation, not the pinnacle, of the journey.
So what does this mean for music?
Much of what we take for granted as teachers is going to take our students years to be able to master on a fundamental level. And we support them on this journey by being patient, helping to guide not only the technical or physical aspects of their practice, but the emotional and mental parts as well.
And it takes time, and repetition.
This kind of consistency, over a period of years, yields results. But people get bored sometimes, they lose focus, they lose interest.
That’s where creativity comes in.
By always finding ways of making the same repeating patterns, warmups, techniques, scales, arpeggios, and pieces fresh and interesting, teachers can help their students stay engaged for the long haul.
One of the coolest new ways to do this is by recording pieces of basic exercises during lessons, and sending them home with students to play along with. And until recently, this had to be done with a patchwork quilt of devices, apps, and various tools, depending on what was on hand.
Now, it’s possible to capture those lifelong lessons that students will always return to in a much better way. Teachers can put their warmups, patterns, and standard exercises into a single digital music lesson dashboard, save variations of each lesson, and assign them to individual students. This saves time going over nuts and bolts stuff in lessons because students are actually spending more time at home playing along with cool sounding tracks, making better progress.
So remember this the next time you see a “miracle method” pop up in your news feed… the greatest breakthroughs happen to people who put in the time and repetitions, study with great teachers, and really devote themselves to a lifelong passionate focus on improvement.