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 Lessons in the Summer
Author: Curinfinwe 
Date:   2010-06-07 19:52

Hi all.
I've been taking lessons with my current teacher for almost a year now, and I can't believe how far I've come in that short time. She's helped me astronomically, and I continue to learn something new pretty much every lesson (One hour, once a week). I'll be graduating from high school next week, and in the fall I'm starting a Bachelor of Music program, with a different teacher. I really want to continue taking lessons with my current teacher right up until then, as I feel I'm getting a lot out of it (and, I'm a little bit ashamed to admit, I'm afraid that I'm going to stagnate a bit in the summer.) The problem is, my parents (who pay for the lessons) don't see the point.
The way I see musical growth is that you should always be learning something new and improving, not just plateauing and then moving on. My parents, as far as I can tell, seem to take the opposite view. After I finish a lesson, it's always "what are you playing now? And what are you playing it for?" They just don't get it when I tell them that I'm not playing a piece FOR anything, I'm playing it because there's some aspect of it that helps my technical ability, or musicality, etc. They were perfectly happy to pay for lessons when I had goals to work toward to: Recording an audition for the National Youth Band, university auditions, youth orchestra auditions, and then a recital. I just played a recital two days ago, and my parents want me to end lessons very soon. When I try explaining to them why I want to keep going, they just look puzzled and say, "well, you got into university, your recital's over, so just give it a break and start again in the fall. That's why you're going to university, right?"
I'd ve perfectly happy to have shorter lessons, or have one every two weeks, during the summer. Money's not the issue for my parents; they simply don't see the point and I don't know how to make them understand. They said that I can pay for lessons if I think I need them for some reason, but I'm reluctant to do that as I'm saving for a new clarinet, which I need.

Am I completely wrong here? Am I the one who doesn't "get" something? I don't know how to explain why I need lessons- needless to say my parents are not musicians at all. Does anyone have any ideas?
Thanks,
Anna

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 Re: Lessons in the Summer
Author: Bob Phillips 
Date:   2010-06-07 20:13

I agree that you're folks really don't get it; but I can't come up any way to convince them that your work is benefiting you --if they can't notice your progress for themselves.

You might try the angle that the music business is fiercely competitive, and only the best players get the breaks. I imagine that you'll have to audition in the fall for placement in the ensembles at university. The best ensembles will have the "best players," and they will get the most attention from the faculty, and they will make the most progress.

Your auditions are far from over.

How about you earning your lesson fees on your own?

Bob Phillips

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 Re: Lessons in the Summer
Author: JJAlbrecht 
Date:   2010-06-07 20:18

Seriously, if the lessons are important to you---and they should be--- you should find a way to pay for them...babysitting, mowing lawns, whatever it takes.

My mother never understood why I was playing tthose exercises or the classical solos; she only wanted to hear watered down pops that she recognized. I couldn't get her to unerstand the importance of my studies. I didn't go on to music, but I still play for fun.

Jeff

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 Re: Lessons in the Summer
Author: janlynn 
Date:   2010-06-07 20:19

maybe ask you teacher to talk to them?

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 Re: Lessons in the Summer
Author: Curinfinwe 
Date:   2010-06-07 20:36

I do have a part-time job, and I'm prepared to pay for lessons, but I'm also expected to make a significant contribution towards tuition, room and board, and I need to buy a new clarinet sometime next year.
I guess maybe my problem is more that I really want my parents to get it- and of course, if I could get them to understand, and they WANTED to pay for lessons, that would be better all around! :P
I'm also trying to get a full-time job for the summer, which would give me enough to get a new clarinet and some left over, but they're very hard to come by here.
But, like I said, I will pay for lessons if I have to.

I have a lessons tomorrow- I'll see what my teacher thinks then.

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 Re: Lessons in the Summer
Author: Ken Shaw 2017
Date:   2010-06-07 20:49

Anna -

There are all kinds of things you can do over the summer. The best, I think, will be to find people to make music with. Call up some other good players from your high school, and also the band/orchestra director, players in the local orchestra and church music directors in the area to get suggestions.

Then play together, or at retirement homes, invited audiences in your living room, churches, malls, street corners and everywhere else they'll have you. The more performance experience you get, the better.

There are also things you can do alone. For example, take an etude book and learn to transpose, up a step for C parts and down a half step for A parts. You'll certainly have transposing as a subject in college studies, and a head-start will be a great benefit. If you can borrow an Eb clarinet or a bass clarinet for the summer, work on learning to play those.

And, of course, you should spend the best 10 minutes of every day working as hard as you can on the Baermann III exercises. If you can come into college able to play scales in all the keys, you'll be miles ahead of everyone else.

Ken Shaw

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 Re: Lessons in the Summer
Author: ddavani 
Date:   2010-06-07 21:42

I think that it is truly important to take lessons over the summer, and it doesn't even need to be once a week, you just need some guidance to continue improving your playing so that you don't stagnate in your playing. It's crucial that you have someone who knows your playing to critique you in your playing because all that can do is help you get better and better.

A very important goal for you is to really impress your new teacher when you go for your first lesson so my suggestion is to take a few lessons with your high school teacher in the beginning, and then have a few fresh ears listen to you. Some one different may be able to give you some good tips that your current teacher might not have thought of.

That's what I can think of. Good luck!

-Dave Davani
http://allclarinet.blogspot.com/

Post Edited (2010-06-07 21:44)

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 Re: Lessons in the Summer
Author: JJAlbrecht 
Date:   2010-06-07 21:50

Also you mention a "new" clarinet next year. Do you truly mean new, or would a quality used instrument fit the bill as well? You can get some great deals this time of year, as many people try to unload instruments they have no further use for, due to quitting the instrument, graduating from college, upgrading and the like. And many of the oldies are of higher quality, in many ways, than the new ones coming out of the factory. The wood is certainly better on older horns!

Jeff

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 Re: Lessons in the Summer
Author: Jack Kissinger 
Date:   2010-06-08 00:22

Will you have auditions for ensemble placement at the beginning of the school year?

Best regards,
jnk

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 Re: Lessons in the Summer
Author: clarinetguy 2017
Date:   2010-06-08 00:37

I'm with the others, and I think lessons over the summer would be a great idea. I don't agree with your parents, but let's look at it this way--they have paid for lessons until now, and it sounds like they really got their money's worth.

Your parents might be thinking that they've already paid a lot of money, and they might be planning to pay for part of your college tuition. I know--I have kids in college and it isn't cheap! It's possible that money might really be an issue for them.

What kind of clarinet are you currently playing? Do you really need a new instrument, and if so, what kind are you hoping to buy? Does your future instructor have a recommendation?

Here's what I think I'd do. Talk to your teacher, explain the situation, and pay for lessons yourself. I teach privately, and if a parent comes to me with financial concerns, I try to work out an arrangement that satisfies everyone. It's very possible that your teacher will do the same.

Incoming music majors are very excited, but many are completely unprepared and overwhelmed when they have to deal with freshman theory, ear training, and piano class. If you can study some basic music theory on your own and practice the piano (or take some lessons) this summer, it will be extremely helpful.

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 Re: Lessons in the Summer
Author: Curinfinwe 
Date:   2010-06-08 00:43

Thanks for the suggestions, Ken! A flautist friend and I were thinking about busking this summer, but I hadn't thought of retirement homes. I'll definitely look into that. Also, I should practice transposing more as well. I can do it, and I own an A clarinet, but I'm not nearly as proficient in trickier keys as I'd like to be. And of course I'm bashing through Baermann III. Also, I already play bass clarinet (in the Nova Scotia Youth Orchestra), and I've been trying for more than a year to find an available Eb in this little city, but to no avail.

Yes, I will have ensemble placement in September. It's a very small clarinet studio in a small university. I've known the teacher for a few years, and I'm pretty much guaranteed a spot in the band open to all students, and for the Wind Ensemble I'm really only in comptetion with one other student.

And Jeff, "new" means whatever is the best I can afford, whether it be new or old. My teacher next year is a close friend of John Weir of Taplin-Weir, and I will likely be buying through them. As well as their own instruments, they now sell new and used Buffets.

Thanks everyone; I've basically given up with regards to my parents now.

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 Re: Lessons in the Summer
Author: Katrina 
Date:   2010-06-08 00:45

You need to keep taking lessons over the summer. There will be placement auditions in the fall, and as others have mentioned, if you're looking at an orchestral career, you need every moment spent practicing and learning. We're not talking immediate goals here, but the more long-term goals of getting a job/gig/teaching position at a university.

That's probably the best way of convincing your parents. Yes, there are other less tangible reasons to keep learning, but if you're planning on a pro career, you'll need this anyway.

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 Re: Lessons in the Summer
Author: JJAlbrecht 
Date:   2010-06-08 01:27

I have to agree. Take every opportunity possible to improve yourself now. My daughter is back home after her first year at college. She is working nights at the local movie theatre and right now (she had a rare day shift today) she is going over the excepts for Beethoven's 6th. After that, she'll go back to the Copland. A never ending process. The first semester away really did a number on her, as she overextended herself a bit, but she settled in and pulled all As except for an A- in a psych class (she's a double major on top of everything else). She already has a pro-grade Bb and A, and a not-so-great Eefer, and she picked up a little bass this summer, too. She just acquired an alto sax at her boyfriend's family's gar(b)age sale last week. She's looking for a performance career, but she is doing the double degree to have something else to support her while going through all the auditioning to come.

The first year at music school can be a killer. Be as prepared as you possibly can.

Jeff

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 Re: Lessons in the Summer
Author: EEBaum 
Date:   2010-06-08 01:32

Never mind the orchestral career mindset... just serves to make people crazy, and disappointed down the line, imho. Ken has great advice, though. Put together some ensembles. Keep playing over the summer. AND, if you're in some performing groups, it might make more sense to your parents for you to keep taking lessons.

-Alex
www.mostlydifferent.com

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 Re: Lessons in the Summer
Author: Katrina 
Date:   2010-06-08 02:24

Alex, I'm not saying the original poster needs to think this way. It's merely a way to convince the parents of the use of the lessons particularly since they don't seem to understand the need to play and improve! :)

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 Re: Lessons in the Summer
Author: kimber 
Date:   2010-06-08 12:02

If your parents are athletic minded, try comparing it to sports. The lessons are the underlying weight training (especially important in the off season) while the rehearsals and concerts are the tream drills/scrimmages and games.

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 Re: Lessons in the Summer
Author: weberfan 
Date:   2010-06-08 22:19



Anna,

Any chance you can compromise? Take lessons every OTHER week and try to do what Ken Shaw suggested....more ensemble playing and torrid Baermann III practice? Might that be easier to afford, regardless of who pays?

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 Re: Lessons in the Summer
Author: clarinetfreak 
Date:   2010-06-08 22:48

try getting some students to teach yourself.

Good Times!

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 Re: Lessons in the Summer
Author: Curinfinwe 
Date:   2010-06-09 01:11

Weberfan,
That's exactly what I'm thinking right now! I've got me and two flautists together to play trios, and of course I have Baermann to keep me quite busy. Lessons every other week will help keep me focused, but be more affordable.

Thanks for all the advice, everyone!
I can honestly say that I am a better musician from reading this BBoard and all the posts here. All the questions I've ever had, and I've learned so much. Thanks.
Anna

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 Re: Lessons in the Summer
Author: pewd 
Date:   2010-06-09 15:06

>Am I completely wrong here?

absolutely not. your initial post is dead on.


one of the most important lessons i have to teach younger students is convincing them, and their parents, that learning to be a musician is a full time job. we don't just practice when school is in session. its a 365 day a year job.
lessons are not tutoring sessions to help you with school band music.

good luck with your music studies.

Dallas, Texas

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 Re: Lessons in the Summer
Author: Morrigan 
Date:   2010-06-09 15:35

Maybe a good argument for your parents would be that you'd like to get ahead of the game before starting university, if they look at everything quantitatively like that?

Also, perhaps you yourself could give lessons? Since you're unqualified, you'd have to charge a lot less but you'll learn simply from teaching as well as earn money to take your own lessons.

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 Re: Lessons in the Summer
Author: Plonk 
Date:   2010-06-09 19:49

I think you need to work out what kind of thing motivates your parents - see what angle you can get. If they think there must be a concrete goal to every piece you play and every lesson you take, you need to prove to them that there is one. The key to getting your way is trying to understand why the other party has made that decision - may be they think you've been working too hard and they want you to have a break? Are they open to discussion? Can you rationalize with them? Some ideas:

When you start college I guess there will be plenty of auditions coming your way for university groups and other things. If you get into several top quality groups it will help you enormously, because you'll play a wider repertoire and meet people in the right places. This will help to get you started on your career. But to get through those auditions, you obviously need to be among the best.

How many students take a break over the summer? Lots. Those players will be rusty. Playing an instrument is like doing any exercise - you use muscles and diaphragm and lack of practice makes you slow (I know from experience lol!) If you just keep on playing alone, you will maintain your level but won't improve much. If you continue with lessons, you'll get better. Therefore you will have an advantage over the others at the start of the academic year.

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