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Expectations And Goals

I think it's important for both sides to have a clear understanding of what each other expects of and from lessons.  There are some teachers who expect their students to come in each week with the lesson materials assigned the previous week to  be up to or near perfection.  That's fine if the student desires to be the very best of the best.  But band is an elective.  Hopefully, they are in band because they like music. But not everyone is driven to be the best player in the world.  I try to get a feel for each student's goals  on their instrument.  If they want to move up to the next band, I'll do whatever I can to help steer them towards attaining that goal.  Even if a student is perfectly content with where they are, I will try to gently nudge them to still improve so they can get even more enjoyment from making music.  I will not force them into doing competitions or contests they do not want to go to.  If they really want to go to a competition, and I feel they are not ready for that level, I might suggest that trying at that time could be more harmful to their morale and they hold off until the next year and let's make that a goal to work towards. 


Student/parent expectations from lessons

I wish I could wave a magic reed over a student and recite some ancient incantatiion and instantly make a student the best player in the school.  Unfortunately, That is not possible.  Lessons aren't going to magically make a student better. It doesn't work by osmosis. I couldn't count how many students I've had over the years that just expected to end up top of their band just because they were "taking lessons."  In other words, It takes work and dedication.  

My Expectations of students

I expect students to be prepared for lessons.  It doesn't have to be perfect.  But I want to see that they have worked on what I asked of them.  Notice my wording, "worked on what I asked of them." Because lessons are  voluntary, and not a  graded course as in a college degree program, I don't look at at lesson material as an assignment.  If the student wants to improve and learn, they will be motivated to do the work.  If they aren't, they will just be wasting everyones' time and their money.  That is when I consider suggesting that they discontinue lessons and let the time open up for a tudent that wants to improve.

Some teachers devise "punishments" for students who come to their lessons unprepared.  Some make the student spend the rest of the lesson drilling scales, or give them the same assignment plus additional materials to prepare for the next week.  I don't see it my job to punish students for not practicing sufficiently.  I let fate and luck of the draw be their punishment/reward.  If they have not done the work, they will see the ressults in placing lower in a chair test or competition.  If they have put in adequate work, they will meet or exceed their goals.  I will seek to keep their goals and expectations in check.  Obviously, if a sudent is no where near the level required to make first chair at region, it would be unfair to let them go into the audition with the expectation that they should place that well in the ranking.  I won't tear a student down.  but I will be honest with them.

In that same vane, I will not artificially build up a student'sexpectations.  I try to be honest yet supportive.   I'm not in the habit of giving idle compliments.  If I tell a student they are doing a good job, I mean it.



As far as practicing;  I Don't expect to see everything pristine each week. As I said, I just want to see obvious evidence that they have practiced what I asked, and not come in week after week unprepared.  I can tell when something is unprepared and trying to scrape by, versus something that was worked on and just isn't working at that moment in time during the lesson.  I always say that lessons are not intended to be supervised practice time.  I try to discuss methods to make most efficient use of what practice time a student has.  I'm happy to talk about how to practice if a student *is* practicing but just not seeing results.  Everyone learns at a different pace and some students require more practice time to acheive the same results as others.  Other students need different approaches to practicing to get results.  Just like "there's more than one way to skin a cat." There are many ways to practice passages to get it down pat.


Here is a great blog that discusses practicing

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