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Beginner First Lesson - How to get the best from it?

photoman

Daydream Believer
Messages
234
Locality
County Limerick Ireland
I have arranged my first lesson with my new BW alto bronze AI tomorrow (Tuesday 13th August). I've had the sax just over a week - not counting a gap when I was away home (and it) for 5 days. I'm really glad that I was able to find a teacher in my area - as I was convinced I would have to travel much further afield.

My tutor is based about an hour's drive away and is well known, certainly locally, and plays classical and jazz with a popular saxophone quartet. He mainly plays baritone - but I am sure he could get a decent tune (as they say over here) out of the alto BW, and I'm hoping he has a MP to fit it as I'd like to hear it played properly.

My questions are: How do I get the best out of my teacher? What are the key questions to ask - I have a few lined up of my own though, such as "why can't I blow a note for more than a second and a half!

How often should I attend? He suggested an hour for the first lesson (and at €30 an hour, I think he's very reasonably priced).

He also teaches at a music school very near me, but for only 15 minutes per student per week, and I'm wondering if I should ask him to find me a weekly hourly slot, even though it means travelling longer each way, to go to his home.

Thanks for any suggestions,

Stephen
 

ProfJames

Elementary member
Messages
12,181
Locality
Berkshire, UK
He will tell you what to do not the other way around...yet! I have one or two a month (if possible) and have now also follow a book and a training DVD - both which I agreed with my tutor so he knows what to expect.

I am sure there will be more advice to follow from forum members that will be very useful. Where are you based?
 

Jeanette

Organizress
Cafe Moderator
Messages
26,653
Locality
Cheshire UK
I started with a weekly half hour lesson and a few months ago moved it to every other week as I didn't have the time to practise in between. Fortunately my tutor is very flexible and we seem to move the lessons to suit us both.

I must admit I didn't give any thought to what I wanted out of my lessons other than to learn to play sop. That said I was starting from scratch with no musical knowledge. We have worked our way through one book whilst I learnt to read music and the fingerings. Now we are working on counting which I consistently ignored as I had too much else to think about. In between he has helped me with stuff for my orchestra. We haven't broached exams as I am not too sure I have the confidence to put myself through them.

If you know which direction you want to go make this clear to him and ensure your goals are met. Probably also important to let him know if you are interested in playing a specific style.

Most of all enjoy the lesson

Jx
 

photoman

Daydream Believer
Messages
234
Locality
County Limerick Ireland
He will tell you what to do not the other way around...yet! I have one or two a month (if possible) and have now also follow a book and a training DVD - both which I agreed with my tutor so he knows what to expect.

You may have misunderstood my point. I'm not intending to tell my teacher what to do.

But, I do have a Masters degree in adult education and I have been teaching adults for 25 years. I'm a believer in androgogic learning - asking the right questions to get the best out of the learning experience - as opposed to pedagogic learning - do as I tell you, and don't question why I'm telling it to you - which often is used in primary schools.

I'm now based on the mid west of Ireland, originally from the NW of England. I have the books and DVD's and have subscribed to some online video courses, but it is getting very confusing, so I will take your advice and agree a tutor boo with teacher.

Stephen
 
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ProfJames

Elementary member
Messages
12,181
Locality
Berkshire, UK
You have an ideal DVD teacher who runs this site - Pete Thomas! His DVD is very very good. And he is here to answer your questions! There are many good books so you are right in asking him what book he recommends.

You are in for a lot of fun and frustrations! There are great people on this forum so keep coming back with questions and requirements. Are you near Kerry or Cork?
 

photoman

Daydream Believer
Messages
234
Locality
County Limerick Ireland
You have an ideal DVD teacher who runs this site - Pete Thomas! His DVD is very very good. And he is here to answer your questions! There are many good books so you are right in asking him what book he recommends.

I have Pete Thomas's DVD - I bought it when I got the sax about 2 weeks ago. I was watching it in my partner's holiday place in Kerry (near Waterville) last week - I didn't take the sax as the walls are a bit thin and I didn't think it would go down well with the neighbours.

I live in County Limerick, close to the Kerry border and my partner is from Cork city. I'm also an official photographer for Tourism Ireland - so I know all 3 counties fairly well - plus Clare, Galway and Tipperary, which are the main ones I photograph for them - and I've been over most of the country in the time I have been here, both for pleasure and working on travel books and brochures etc.

Stephen
 

Profusia

Senior Member
Messages
1,024
Locality
Worcestershire
Hi Stephen,

I pay £26/hr once a fortnight, so I'd say 30 Euros is around the right sort of rate based on my limited experience, and outside London where I imagine rates might be higher.

Before you go for your lesson I'd ask yourself what you want to achieve from your lessons and from your new hobby generally, both short term and longer term. I imagine short term will be easy and obvious, but I think its worth giving some thought to where you'd like it to lead longer term too (although those ideas/plans may change as you learn and are exposed to what's out there).

Just as examples you might think about what genres of music you'd like to play (jazz, pop, classical etc etc) and in what company e.g. tootling at home to backing tracks, performing publicly, playing in small ensembles, or maybe a bigger band etc. Do you want to improvise and play by ear? Maybe all of the above! All of these questions can come much later but it doesn't hurt to have an idea of where you think you might want to go early doors.

I would hope your tutor may ask what you want to achieve, which may shape his teaching after a while, but you can also ask him what musical styles have his focus and what his background is. I think its important to know if you're being taught with for example a classical view or a more jazz bent even when it is very early days.

Lastly I would hope and imagine that your tutor will give you homework. I would advise that you have a book and note the tasks set and then make sure that first thing next lesson your homework is reviewed. Don't leave it to your tutor to remember what homework he set, or to ask you to demonstrate how you've dealt with it. Sounds obvious but in my experience you will need to be proactive to maximise the benefit from your lessons.

I still consider myself a beginner so I can't talk about teaching methods for saxophone and my experience is clearly limited. Others here may well advise you on what to hope for from your teacher.

Good luck and enjoy!
 

ProfJames

Elementary member
Messages
12,181
Locality
Berkshire, UK
Then you have the DVD and you are on your way. My mother was Limerick (Adare) and my father was Kerry (Glenbiegh).

Good luck!
 

Profusia

Senior Member
Messages
1,024
Locality
Worcestershire
I started with a weekly half hour lesson and a few months ago moved it to every other week as I didn't have the time to practise in between. Fortunately my tutor is very flexible and we seem to move the lessons to suit us both.

I must admit I didn't give any thought to what I wanted out of my lessons other than to learn to play sop. That said I was starting from scratch with no musical knowledge. We have worked our way through one book whilst I learnt to read music and the fingerings. Now we are working on counting which I consistently ignored as I had too much else to think about. In between he has helped me with stuff for my orchestra. We haven't broached exams as I am not too sure I have the confidence to put myself through them.

If you know which direction you want to go make this clear to him and ensure your goals are met. Probably also important to let him know if you are interested in playing a specific style.

Most of all enjoy the lesson

Jx

I should have read Jeanette's post properly earlier - I'm pretty much just echoing her input.
 

kernewegor

Bon vivant, raconteur and twit
Messages
1,709
Locality
cocks hill perranporth KERNOW
Then you have the DVD and you are on your way. My mother was Limerick (Adare) and my father was Kerry (Glenbiegh).

Good luck!

And you live in Berkshire... not in the equine trade by any chance?

My great great grandfather Ryan bred horses near Dingle and great granny was a great horsewoman. Me, I went in for boats...
 

ProfJames

Elementary member
Messages
12,181
Locality
Berkshire, UK
It's a small world but I still wouldn't want to paint it! Dingle is great! Going off thread, apologies!!
 

kernewegor

Bon vivant, raconteur and twit
Messages
1,709
Locality
cocks hill perranporth KERNOW
I think the most important thing is that he/she checks out your horn - otherwise as a beginner on sax you won't know if it is you or the instrument if you have problems.

The second point is everything physical - posture, breathing, embouchure, note production and so on.

Good instrumentalists are not neccessarily good or experienced teachers but if this is the case it can still be beneficial provided you make sure the tuiton is focussed on what you need and he/she comes up with the goods.

30 euros is about 24/25 pounds sterling at present. Mrs Ex-to-be is a qualified and very experienced teacher specialising in instrumental music (brass) and she charges £25 per hour for private lessons here in Cornwall.

Weekly lessons are good to start with especially if your teacher is happy to take a few minutes out in the middle for a cuppa and and a chat or whatever, to give your brain and lip a break...

After a while you may find fortnightly lessons are good.
 

photoman

Daydream Believer
Messages
234
Locality
County Limerick Ireland
Hi Stephen,

I pay £26/hr once a fortnight, so I'd say 30 Euros is around the right sort of rate based on my limited experience, and outside London where I imagine rates might be higher.

Before you go for your lesson I'd ask yourself what you want to achieve from your lessons and from your new hobby generally, both short term and longer term. I imagine short term will be easy and obvious, but I think its worth giving some thought to where you'd like it to lead longer term too (although those ideas/plans may change as you learn and are exposed to what's out there).

Just as examples you might think about what genres of music you'd like to play (jazz, pop, classical etc etc) and in what company e.g. tootling at home to backing tracks, performing publicly, playing in small ensembles, or maybe a bigger band etc. Do you want to improvise and play by ear? Maybe all of the above! All of these questions can come much later but it doesn't hurt to have an idea of where you think you might want to go early doors.

I would hope your tutor may ask what you want to achieve, which may shape his teaching after a while, but you can also ask him what musical styles have his focus and what his background is. I think its important to know if you're being taught with for example a classical view or a more jazz bent even when it is very early days.

Lastly I would hope and imagine that your tutor will give you homework. I would advise that you have a book and note the tasks set and then make sure that first thing next lesson your homework is reviewed. Don't leave it to your tutor to remember what homework he set, or to ask you to demonstrate how you've dealt with it. Sounds obvious but in my experience you will need to be proactive to maximise the benefit from your lessons.

I still consider myself a beginner so I can't talk about teaching methods for saxophone and my experience is clearly limited. Others here may well advise you on what to hope for from your teacher.

Good luck and enjoy!

Thank you for a very comprehensive and extremely helpful reply Thomas. I have considered some of those points, and my teacher is trained in classical music and jazz, whereas I prefer blues and rock ballads. But, my very patient partner is a jazz fan - so I'm hoping to learn a few jazz standards well enough to play one or two for her in a few months time.

Having had a brass band, a rock group and Irish session music exerperiences over my (rather long) life so far, I can count in time and read music a bit - and play by ear to some extent. I'm not too bothered about playing in public again, but I would be interested in learning to improvise and play well enough for myself to sound like I know what I'm doing!

You have given me a lot to consider in time for the lesson tomorrow and hopefully, the teacher will be willing and able to assist in helping me with my ambitions.

Stephen
 

photoman

Daydream Believer
Messages
234
Locality
County Limerick Ireland
My mother was Limerick (Adare) and my father was Kerry (Glenbiegh).

I was born in NW England but have roots going back to Limerick over 200 years. I only found this out when I moved to Ireland 14 years ago.

I lived in Adare for the first 7 years I was in the country and now I live a few miles closer to the Kerry border (I came through Glenbeigh on Sunday), in a tiny village. My nearest neighbour is over 3/4 of a mile away and shouldn't get too bothered when I blow the horn at 1am in the morning - as I did last night!

Stephen
 

Saxdiva

Older, wiser, should know better....
Messages
531
Locality
Burgess Hill, West Sussex
Given you have a preferred approach to teaching/learning, I would mention that up front, so he knows what to expect. If he's a good teacher he should pick it up quickly and it may be refreshing if other students don't ask and just wait to be told.

Although your musical tastes may change, he should be aiming at getting you to play what you like, especially as you're not aiming at exams, so he should ask about what you want to achieve.

My tutor charges £30 an hour and I have weekly lessons. He doesn't work to a tutor book and tailors everything he does for each student. He doesn't miss any basics but it makes you think and stops it getting repetitive. That works great for me and I find him really inspirational, unlike another I approached who was just going through the motions. I like to do exercises from books myself and get him to do something different.

The most important thing is that you like him and his approach. Enjoy!
 

Profusia

Senior Member
Messages
1,024
Locality
Worcestershire
Thank you for a very comprehensive and extremely helpful reply Thomas. I have considered some of those points, and my teacher is trained in classical music and jazz, whereas I prefer blues and rock ballads. But, my very patient partner is a jazz fan - so I'm hoping to learn a few jazz standards well enough to play one or two for her in a few months time.

Having had a brass band, a rock group and Irish session music exerperiences over my (rather long) life so far, I can count in time and read music a bit - and play by ear to some extent. I'm not too bothered about playing in public again, but I would be interested in learning to improvise and play well enough for myself to sound like I know what I'm doing!

You have given me a lot to consider in time for the lesson tomorrow and hopefully, the teacher will be willing and able to assist in helping me with my ambitions.

Stephen

Just be warned, improvising on the saxophone can bring out the jazzer in you that you never knew was there, and can get addictive! :D
 

thesaxman71

::::
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Messages
1,654
very good thread posted, nice seeing it from the other side, as a former teacher/lecturer, the students who were more pro active asking questions usually were the easiest to put on the right track, but i found if i had a quieter student who had no idea what they wanted but just to play the sax, then i would look at the instrument, once it had the all clear then try and get them started on blowing just the mouthpiece for basic embouchre work, then mouthpiece and neck then the full sax, get their posture, ergonomics, embouchre as correct as possible for a 1st lesson and generally use 'p.r' skills to lighten the mood ask them questions on what music taste they have etc, for a general idea what direction they wanted in order to get them to open up and be more comfortable 'cos going for a 1st lesson can also be quite intimidating for the student so hopefully your tutor will be aware of that too and try to make you feel relaxed and not scared to play.
 

thesaxman71

::::
::::
Messages
1,654
Just be warned, improvising on the saxophone can bring out the jazzer in you that you never knew was there, and can get addictive! :D
and a great addiction to have, your doing VERY well at it up to now Profusia given the learning time scale.
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Café Supporter
Messages
21,471
Locality
Just north of Munich
Some good suggestions above, particularly about checking your setup.

Primary objective for me would be to assess personalities and whether we're going to get on. Look for obsessions - e.g. you must have an xyz mouthpiece of a specific tip size and specific reeds. Also assess the clarity and aptness/level of detail of the explanations/answers/pedagogy. Most teachers work from a pedagogic base and are uncomfortable with anything else.

After that given it's the first lesson and assuming your sax is going to be the centre of attention, I'd be less worried about having a dreamt up pile of questions at this stage, more I'd play it by ear and expect to have something clear and constructive to work on for the following lesson. I'd also expect to discuss embouchure basics, how much mouthpiece to take in, and a few basic notes.

I'd also expect a discussion about musical styles - particualarly where you want to be, and how he sees you getting there. And a rough lesson plan (even if it only consists of "We'll follow xyz tutorial book, pace decided by your progress").

In my book, that's enough for the first month...

On lesson length, 30 mins is really short. If he can fit you in, 1 hour twice a month may work better.
 

photoman

Daydream Believer
Messages
234
Locality
County Limerick Ireland
'cos going for a 1st lesson can also be quite intimidating for the student so hopefully your tutor will be aware of that too and try to make you feel relaxed and not scared to play.

I'm hoping that my own background as a teacher will help calm those fears, but you never know, I may get "the Yips" and be unable to open my mouth to stick in that plastic thingy with the bamboo slice underneath it. You can see I've studied the theory to a high level already, and this only my second week of owning the sax! ;}

In all seriousness, I've been drawing on my past experiences of playing in front of others - I was in brass bands over 40 years ago as a teenager - and have played badly in front of experts!

When I moved to Ireland from NW England I taught myself to play the bouzouki and then sat in on traditional Irish music pub sessions for over 3 years with guys who had been playing for 30 years or more. I became a "core" member of the session - until illness in one of the players broke up the group.

That is actually my proudest moment, so far, musically speaking, as some trad musicians can be a bit "precious" about the heritage - and I eventually played well enough not to spoil it for the American tourists who packed the pub where we played. We even took the show on the radio and played for conventions in the local (5 *) hotel.

So, I'm hoping I'll be relaxed enough to get a C scale out tomorrow (maybe even the 2nd octave).

Stephen
 
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