View Full Version : What do you expect from a lesson?

Dru Lee Parsec
Jan-27-2004, 7:37pm
Hi folks. #Well, I've been playing guitar for nearly 30 years, and I've been playing mandolin for just about 5 months. #I think I've been picking it up pretty quickly but I decided to take some lessons just to make sure that I'm not developing any really bad habits.

This got me to thinking, I'm learning songs from CDs, from Chris Thile's DVD, from other people at jam sessions and from books. #I'm learning to read music from the Mel Bay Complete Mandolin Method. #Overall I think I've done well being mostly self taught. #

I'm wondering what I should do to get the best use of my teacher's time. #I think at first I'll make sure that my left and right hand position is correct. #We should probably play some scales to make sure that I'm shifting when I should be and not changing hand position when I shouldn't and so on. #

So what do you folks do to get the most out your lessons?

Jan-27-2004, 7:50pm
getting the most out of your time with the teacher...

While him watching you and commenting on what he feels is ok and what needs work is great and very necessary, sometimes an open ear just listening while you play slowly thru material you are working on can help too. Playing in front of 'an audience' so to speak and getting comfortable with that is priceless.

Getting comfortable playing 'with' another person too is very useful...swapping breaks or getting an opportunity to really work on a melody while he plays a steady rhythm, or you getting a great chance to play rhythm for him. the band in a box idea is great but so is the sometimes quirky rhythm thrown at you from time to time, keeping it real.

playing off of one another is sometimes the most valuable time spent because it is time to put to use the things you talk about or learn and, in that setting, mistakes are welcome (so there are spots to work on and iron out) and there should be no competitive factor involved with a good teacher. opinions vary, but teachers, I'm one of them, hopefully can help people find what they are best at as far as learning approaches or get down to what it is they love about music as well as inspire them to branch out into other areas or the listening of other players...

and sometime just learning a new tune from their song list is fun...lots of music out there

best wishes on your journey...

Jan-27-2004, 8:02pm
I've been playing for about 4 yrs. now and I've found that what has helped me most is just playing with other people. I've had about 3 different teachers. All of whom have sent me away with a little something. Finally I have reached a point in my playing where I can play something and say, "Hey, I learned that from so and so", but I was able to apply it and put my own little twist on it as well. It is an epiphany and great to finally be able to do things for myself. I'm sure with as many years playing experience as you have it will not be long before you are knockin' em dead. Just get out there and play!!!

Jan-30-2004, 1:39am
I have just spent 3 semesters at a Music Academy studying scales/arpeggios , solo playing and improvisation on mandolin and I have just about absorbed most of what I can from my teacher. I will spend the next few months trying to apply what I learned to actual playing (my improvisation has improved tremendously!) and then I will seek out a new teacher as my last was mostly trained in Classical mandolin.

I think from each book, video, DVD or teacher it all just adds to the accumulated music knowledge. http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/mandosmiley.gif

I think to get the most out of a teacher you have to NOT be afraid to speak up and tell the teacher exactly what you want from him/her... in a nice way of course!

good luck!


John Flynn
Jan-30-2004, 9:31am
I agree with jim_in_va. You have to have a crystal clear idea of what you want to gain from each lesson and you need to let the instructor know in a nice, but firm fashion. If he can't or won't do that, you need to find another one. I have had to go through several instructors for that reason. I have always taken pains to make the partings as amicable as possible. Some of those guys I am still very friendly with, some not.

I am in "instruction Nirvana" now. I discovered that my favorite mando player and recording artist, Curtis Buckhannon, lives only about 30 minutes from me. I sent him an email and asked if I could talk with him on the phone. When I called him, I pleaded with him to teach me. He said he didn't take students, but he would think about it. Two weeks later he called me back and said he would try it. Lessons are in his living room. He teaches me an average of two tunes per one hour session. He corrects me on technique as we go.

Curtis insinctively always adds a lot of really cool embellishments when he plays. He doesn't even think about it. I will say, "What did you do there? How did you do that?" He will say, "Gee, I'm not sure, let's look at that." I feel I am not just learning tunes and techniques, I am also picking up his whole approach to the instrument and his philosophy of playing. The moral is, think out of the box and find the right instructor for you. It will pay off.