8 Steps for Finding A Great Teacher, Part 2

Steps 1-3

Last week we went over the first 3 steps for finding a great private lesson teacher. You can find last week’s post here. Let’s move on to the next few steps.

Personalization (Step 4)

Your teacher should personalize the lesson to fit your needs. So if you need help with articulation or technique, you’re teacher shouldn’t just give you an assignment out of a book. Your teacher should provide methods and approaches to work specifically on your issue. Here’s an example.

If you’re having a difficult time articulating, your teacher should do more than suggest that you’ll get it with time (however, this is the correct answer at times). If a student had a tendency to articulate too aggressively at the beginning of each note, I would suggest the following:

  1. Listen and determine what’s happening
  2. Once the issue has been identified, have the student make adjustments to gain the desired result
  3. Create an exercise that will allow the student to focus on articulation

In regards to #3, I’ll have the student play a scale that is extremely familiar to them, simultaneously applying the articulation technique just learned. This allows the student to focus on the issue rather than trying to make changes while learning new music.

Through experiences like this, you’ll begin to gain confidence in your teacher. You’ll begin to realize that they can help you solve any issue you face.

Duets (Step 5)

Most students really enjoy playing duets with their teacher, and they should! However, sometimes a teacher can spend too much time on duets. I’ve had students come to me and explain that all they did with their previous teacher was play duets. These students (once they’re instructed properly) can make huge improvements. So, have fun with duets, but it should be a small portion of your lesson time.

Hangin’ Out (Step 6)

My first private lesson instructor played baritone saxophone on the Tonight Show. He had all sorts of stories he could tell from his 30+ years in the music business. However, we rarely took up valuable lesson time to “shoot the breeze”. He was a relaxed teacher, but if we wanted to talk about all his stories, we did so after the lesson. Lesson time is valuable; make sure you get all you can out of that time.

Improvement & Motivation (Step 7)

As I gained knowledge from effective teachers, I realized that I was being armed with results based methods and techniques. Because of this, I began to understand that every time I sat down to practice, I was going to improve. This was extremely motivating. It became easier to focus in my sessions and my practicing became very productive and rewarding.

Build Confidence (Step 8)

With daily improvement and knowledge in practice methods and techniques, I became a much better saxophone player. This helped build my confidence in my own playing and I began to recognize my abilities as a teacher. I became excited to share the knowledge I had received. This confidence, and ability to play well, is in direct result of outstanding teachers.

The Qualified Teacher

Qualified teachers help us reach our potential. Less qualified teachers will not. If we are only instructed by the latter, we may never know what we could have become. If we are instructed by the former, they can help us reach our potential. Many times our potential is much more than we thought possible.

Put It To The Test!

Hopefully these 8 steps will provide some direction for choosing an effective private lesson teacher. Usually a referral kicks us off, but when it’s just you and the teacher, it’s good to know what you can expect. Hopefully this post will provide you with enough knowledge so you can find the best teacher for you. If you would like to try our free lessons, just click here. Feel free to put us to the test!


What do you look for in a teacher? What has a teacher done to inspire you? You can share your thoughts in the comment section on this page. Thanks!

Comments 4

  1. Hi Jeff,

    Gone through this post. Its so informative & inspiring. I feel strongly that I can definitely improve myself under your able guidance. Am opting for the SILVER CLASSES.

    1. Post
  2. I used to teach math at the university shortly after graduating in Telecom Engineering, 25+ years ago. Many students from other teachers’ courses frequently attended my classes since “you explain way better, professor”… Some time later, I happened to find out the main reason why “I explained better” was that I always gave feedback to those students who seemed to be kinda unfocused. Every student needs to receive from the teacher -this is valid in any area of learning- the proper words at the proper time and about the proper subject. If he/she is doing it right, teacher’s positive words will surely be encouraging. If not, a good advice will guide him/her through the correct path towards knowledge.
    A teacher that listens to your playing -even a simple scale or easy tune- and is capable of detecting any embouchure, articulation or fingering error and tells the student how to correct it, is much more valuable than hours of videos, backing tracks and song tutorials.

    1. Post

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *