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Should You Take Lessons and How To Prepare If You Decide To Do So

Randy Stein

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In addition to performing on the EC I also teach. In the past couple of weeks I've had some conversations that made me think about what one needs to do if they are trying to decide whether or not to take lessons. Here are a few questions I usually ask someone when they contact me about lessons. I also suggest reading Judy Minot's wonderful book, Best Practice: Inspiration and Ideas for Traditional Musicians for additional ideas and suggestions. 


If you deicide you need or want to improve and expand your abilities to play your concertina, even before you select a teacher, I suggest asking yourself the following:

  1. Do I have the time and willingness to practice?   Lessons cost time and money for both you and your instructor. Not taking the time to practice wastes both for all parties. Practicing is what directly leads to improvement.
  2. What do I want to accomplish in these lessons?    Have clear goals and be able to articulate them to yourself and your instructor. My experience is that as one improves goals change and expand. 
  3. If my lessons are online do I have the technology and bandwidth to support and stream my lessons without issues?     If you have someone local and are vaccinated and still take proper precautions, this may not be an issue. Most lessons are now remote and take place online using various streaming applications like Zoom, Skype, etc. Learn or find someone to help you learn the technology. Make sure you have the bandwidth and internet connections to receive an uninterrupted video and audio feed. Also, is the laptop or tablet you plan to use have the proper audio and video capabilities or do you need to upgrade or purchase an external microphone or webcam?
  4. Don't understate or overstate your abilities.   Lessons are usually crafted to the ability and music of the musician. Be honest with yourself and your instructor on your abilities and musical knowledge.  
  5. What's better for me: Private or Group lessons?   Some people do better when working with a group, even online. Some like the personal one on one of a private lesson that can be personalized and directed to the specification of the individual. There is usually a cost difference which may factor into your decision. 
  6. Finally, Select the instructor that is right for you.   I would revert back to #2 on the list when looking for and deciding on an instructor. Once you decide, think about who and what is a good fit for you. Even after you have started lessons, you or your instructor may decide that someone different or a different approach would suit you better. Don't take it personally. Make the change before you begin to resent taking lessons and defeat the purpose of looking to improve.


That's it. Play on.




Edited by Randy Stein
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