20 Key Benefits of Studying with a Private Music Teacher


Many students learn to play a musical instrument by enrolling in an elective beginning band class as part of the middle and high school music curriculum.

Instruction usually starts at the beginning of the 6th grade and students are taught in a group setting with all instruments combined into one class. These classes are usually taught by a band director who earned a music education degree from an accredited four-year university and received certification from the state to teach.

As part of their university musical training and certification, band directors are required to become proficient on one primary instrument and also take instrumental music method courses in woodwinds, brass, percussion, and strings where they are instructed on how to play and teach each instrument.

This sounds great, but unfortunately, band directors only learn the basic playing fundamentals in these method courses, just spending around three weeks on each instrument. It is extremely difficult to learn how to play and teach a musical instrument in three weeks. As a result, band directors are not adequately prepared as they begin teaching music students leading to poor instruction.

In addition, band classes are taught in a group setting, with little individualized instruction, making it difficult for playing mistakes to be discovered and corrected. Consequentially, many music students develop bad playing habits which impede progress, create frustration ,and could ultimately cause them to quit the program.

The Importance of Having a Private Applied Teacher

In order to resolve this issue, it is essential that instrumental music students find a private applied teacher who has the knowledge and skill to properly instruct them on how to play their chosen instrument through individualized lessons. A private applied teacher can be a great asset to students learning to play a musical instrument in many ways.

Listed below are twenty benefits of having a private applied teacher that can greatly enhance a student’s progress.

A qualified private applied teacher can assist the student in the following ways:

  1. Be a model for the student by demonstrating how things are to be performed correctly
  2. Suggest recordings and performers for the student to listen to and imitate
  3. Correct bad playing habits and problems through individualized instruction
  4. Provide the student with tone and technique strategies that will save time and increase the rate of progress
  5. Provide student with recommendations for method books, solos and selecting repertoire
  6. Make structured, logical, sequential playing assignments that will provide the student with direction and increase the rate of progress
  7. Design a structured practice routine so the student progresses in a logical, sequential manner
  8. Answer questions the student has about all aspects of performance
  9. Motivate, praise and encourage the student
  10. Make recommendations for appropriate equipment, mouthpieces, reeds
  11. Assist the student with a new instrument purchase by play testing the instrument and providing recommendations
  12. Assist with reed selection and adjustment
  13. Assist the student in making adaptations and adjustments to their instrument (palm key risers, etc.)
  14. Assist the student with instrument maintenance and check the instrument for problems
  15. Help the student get involved in performance opportunities outside the school program in local or community groups
  16. Offer the student alternate ways of performing passages (alternate fingerings, phrasing)
  17. Assist the student with preparation of music for performance in class, playing tests and concerts
  18. Assist the student in chair, honor band, all-state and university scholarship auditions
  19. For older students, provide information about booking gigs, travel and contracts
  20. Also for older students, provide information about upcoming teaching or playing positions and serve as a reference for school admissions or job applications

It can be seen from the benefits listed above that a private applied teacher is a great asset for the instrumental music student. These benefits become even more important if the student is a competitive player or planning to become a music teacher or professional musician.

Students that have a private applied teacher can be confident that they are playing their instrument correctly and know they have a resource person to rely on when issues arise as they continue their journey to becoming a better musician.

If you’re looking to learn new strategic approaches to performance, check out Dr. Heavner’s book, Saxophone Secrets: 60 Performance Strategies for the Advanced Saxophonist.