Lessons, Practicing... and Band
When a young student begins private clarinet lessons, there often is some confusion about the difference between practice time and lesson time. Some students and parents even refer to the lesson time as "practice", however there is a big difference between the two.
The private lesson is the time that the student spends with me in a very focused one-on-one session reviewing the previous assignment, making corrections when needed and introducing new material. Each lesson is tailored to the student's current ability and future goals. I teach each student how to practice, demonstrating and reviewing practice methods that are effective and efficient. I observe my students with a keen eye, focusing on fundamentals of technique, no matter how advanced the student is. I challenge my students to reach beyond their current level of ability, helping them to develop their creativity and critical thinking skills. Many aspects of music are considered. Besides notes and rhythms, there are dynamics, articulation, breathing, phrasing, color changes, mood etc. , all reaching towards a deeper understanding and expression of the music. All of this and more is addressed with all levels of students in the private lesson.
Practice time is the time that the student devotes to self-study of their music. Students need dedicated, distraction-free time in a quiet place by themselves. Practice requires discipline and patience from the student, and encouragement and motivation from parents. Students who have the most enjoyment and the greatest success in playing their clarinet are those who maintain a regular practice schedule. I recommend that beginning and intermediate students practice 30 minutes/day, 5 days/week. Advanced students will need to allow for more practice time. Talent alone will only get the student to mediocre. Hard work will result in excellence, integrity and a strong work ethic which will be carried over into all aspects of life. The more the student does on their own during practice time, the further they will get in the lesson with the teacher.
Now - on to Band, or any ensemble - orchestra, jazz band, etc. Ensemble time is NOT practice time, nor is it lesson time. Ensemble time is most enjoyable and effective when the students have had their lessons, practiced their music and are prepared to play their parts well during the ensemble rehearsal. The more the individual students have practiced their music on their own, the further the ensemble can grow and the more enjoyable it will be for everyone! Happy music making!