I’ve talked about the role of parents in a previous blog, but how about the student? Having been a student for most of my life (but still striving to learn new things), and a teacher for a while, I’ve reached some conclusions as to what makes a good student. Not claiming that I was always the perfect student by any means, but I’ve noticed huge differences in how certain good students behave in lessons/ master classes compared to others. Being a good student will not only help you improve more quickly, it will stand you in good stead for your future career and life in general. Here are my thoughts:
As a teacher, I far prefer teaching somebody who is keen, tries their best and asks questions but their standard is not so high rather than somebody who plays quite well but shows little interest in what I have to say or in the music itself. Go beyond what is expected of you and give it 100%. Of course, there will be days when you’re tired and don’t have the energy, but remember your teacher has probably taught 5 students before you and still gives you their full commitment. Which leads onto the next point:
Be respectful to your teacher
Your teacher has probably traveled quite far or has fit you in to their busy schedule. So, it’s important to show up on time (not too early and definitely not late!) – 5 minutes early is good. Further, if your teacher has a concert coming up, show your support and take an interest by listening. This will give you inspiration and your teacher will feel touched that you made the effort. You might even get a complimentary ticket !
Listen and react
Listening is probably the greatest skill a musician can have. This includes waiting for your teacher to finish what they are saying before you play. So many students in classes interrupt a teacher’s thought process or instruction by playing over them. This means (a) the student will continue to play with bad habits/same mistakes (b) the audience (in classes) cannot hear what the teacher is saying (c) the teacher will feel frustrated because they will have to say it all over again! Listening also means listening to your sound and playing in great detail and reacting to what you hear. This will make progress that much quicker.
Warm up, work on all your études etc and be prepared. The lesson is not the place to practise. If you find a particular passage difficult, by all means ask your teacher the best way to practise it- but don’t expect your teacher to wave a magic wand and fix mistakes if you don’t practise! Teachers have heard all the excuses under the sun, so don’t even bother making up reasons why you didn’t learn your Andersen étude! If you don’t have much time, check my previous blog on practising without your flute.
Bring a note pad to take notes. One of my teachers told me that (paraphrasing) ” if you don’t take notes, you will forget 90% of what I will tell you”. These days, recording lessons using recording machines or even smart phones is popular- but always ask first if it’s okay.
This speaks for itself- don’t always expect your teacher to set you homework. Your progress is your responsibility.
Always give something a try, even if you initially feel shy or you disagree with an idea. Your teacher knows what they are doing, so keep an open mind and see what happens. You never know, you might sound better !
So, try to be a good student – not only will you improve, you will be fun to teach and a good reference will be waiting for you if you ever need one!
Thanks for reading and happy fluting!