Private Lessons

I offer private lessons both in person and long-distance via Skype. Skype lessons are a little less because I feel the experience is a little limited by comparison to a live lesson. Lessons in person offer us the opportunity to play together, etc. In music, there is no substitute for hearing someone's sound and style in person. Having said that, there can be much that we cover together via Skype.

Some Thoughts for Parents and Students

Why should my child take private lessons?

I hear this question constantly. "Why should my son/daughter need private lessons? They have band every day". It is true that many kids have a full band class every day, but the amount of 1-on-1 attention that can be brought to your child's playing is significantly more in a private lesson than a typical band or orchestra class. Usually sports analogies are used to try to understand, and in sports you can go to group practice, get some individualized attention mixed in with the ensemble, and that should suffice. There is less of a mindset that a child needs private soccer lessons to be ready for soccer practice, for example.  

In this way, music is quite different from sports. First, band classes have all sorts of instruments present at one time. Imagine a sports rehearsal where some kids are playing football, some are playing baseball, others are playing archery, etc. and it is all coached by (usually) one or two people. In that context, parents would understand the importance of some individualized time in order to be more successful.

Lessons are expensive- how can I afford them?

With private lessons, you usually get what you pay for. If your child is in middle school, you might be able to find a kid from the local high school that can offer private lessons at a fraction of the cost of a more reputable teacher. These lessons can still be helpful. High school students might be able to look toward college music students for private lessons. Usually the top players and teachers in an area will charge more because the content that they can deliver comes from a deeper level of understanding and experience. The rate for lessons should align with a student's motivation. For example if a student really wants to continue into college as a music major, then a more accomplished teacher (with usually a higher rate) makes sense as the level of instruction will be more involved. The top teachers in the country charge over $200 per hour. This is perfectly reasonable given what they can offer, however your 6th grade beginner probably won't need that level of lessons any time soon. One way to make lessons more affordable is to make sure you have the right teacher for your child.

You might be able to find creative ways to lower cost    

Some kids take lessons every other week which cuts down costs. In the past I have taught beginners a group lesson with 2 or 3 students, which splits the cost of lessons. The students get a little less personal attention, but the experience is still worthwhile.

Lesson costs now might be cheaper in the long run

If you are paying for private lessons now an it ends up making college cheaper because you are more capable of being awarded higher amounts of scholarships, then the investment might be worth it. Make sure you are looking at all of the aspects of cost before making your decision on investing in lessons.

The right teacher might be worth gold to you or your child

The private lesson experience is unique in that for 30 minutes or an hour every week, your child gets a lesson not only in music, but gets to learn a little about life from an accomplished musician. It can be an inspirational connection and a life-changing relationship between the teacher and student. Speaking from experience, some of my former private teachers had a profound impact on my outlook for my musical life in addition to teaching me how to play the instrument. I have also had several former students that now attribute some of their success (in music or in general) to our time spent together. The right connection between a student and a teacher can be more than just music coaching. It's really life coaching when you get down to it, which usually makes the cost seem more palatable.

How can I find a good teacher in my area?

Start with the top ensembles and top music schools in your area. If you live in a city or a college town, there will most likely be a university music program or a professional orchestra. The applied teachers and professional players really all know each other at that level and can point you in the right direction. Online searches may also turn up some names and contact info. Don't be afraid to contact people, ask questions, and shop around. Make sure it is an investment of time and money that you feel comfortable about!