The clarinet is a beautiful, woodwind instrument that has one of the largest ranges of pitch when compared to all of the other musical instruments. It’s a fun instrument to play, either on your own or with a band. You can greatly improve your ability to play the clarinet when you take lessons, but you also want to make sure you get the most out of each and every lesson. With a few tips that apply to both students and parents, you can make sure your clarinet lessons are worth your time and money.
Opt for a Qualified Teacher
There are times when you can find an eager college student who will give lessons for a small fee and do a good job. There are also times when you get what you pay for. If your interest is getting the most from your clarinet lessons, choose a qualified instructor. Ask about the instructor’s clarinet experience and whether or not he/she has a college degree in music. You’ll also want to know if the teacher has experience teaching others. Sometimes, the greatest musicians aren’t exactly the greatest teachers. If you find someone with experience, you’ll know you have a winning candidate.
For more tips on choosing a teacher, check out How to Choose a Music Teacher.
Choose a Professional Environment
You certainly want a qualified clarinet teacher for your lessons, but you also want an environment that’s designed for music education. When you’re paying for lessons, you don’t want to be distracted by televisions, siblings, pets, or ringing phones. Instead, you want a professional environment where you can get the most out of your 30 to 60 minute lesson without distractions. Students who are in a professional environment hear their peers performing at varying levels, which often acts as motivation.
Look for Performance Opportunities
Recital performances are a source of nerves for some students, but these opportunities also help them stay motivated to be at their best. If your clarinet teacher doesn’t provide performance opportunities, look for recitals you can be part of. You can then use your lesson time to prepare for the recital, and the performance is guaranteed to shape up your abilities as well. Recitals are most popular around holidays and special events, but you could also look for workshops where experienced clarinet players serve as an example to younger students. Nerves can help students stay focused and motivated, which is why recitals are a great way to get the most from your clarinet lessons.
It’s impossible to get better without practice. It’s true with sports, and it’s especially true in music. Try to focus for 10-15 minutes each day to practice your clarinet without distractions. Studies show that even five minutes of focused practice is more effective than 30 minutes of unfocused practice. Improving throughout the week helps you get the most from your clarinet lessons because you won’t have to repeat information you learned previously. Your lessons will be full of new information that you can go home and implement.
Prepare Your Clarinet
Arrive about 15 minutes before your lesson so you can be ready to go as soon as your lesson time begins. In addition to arriving early, take the time to pull your clarinet out and get it ready. Having your clarinet ready to go before your lesson begins will ensure you get the most from your lessons. Make sure your corks are greased, which is something you might have to do every time you put it together if your instrument is new. If your clarinet isn’t new, you probably only need to do this once every couple of weeks. Once your corks are greased, make sure your instrument is assembled, and your reed is wet; then, you are ready to go. If you have time, try to warm up for a few minutes before your lesson.
Enjoy the Process
Playing the clarinet isn’t an unrewarding chore like sweeping the floor or taking out the trash; it’s a lifelong opportunity to love and appreciate the music that you’re able to play. Be realistic about what you can accomplish from your clarinet lessons, and be flexible throughout the process. There may be some times when you need extra help during a session, and other times when you cover multiple lessons in one sitting.
Learning to play the clarinet should be fun, but there may be times when it doesn’t feel fun. Expect the natural ups and downs that come along the way. Soon, you’ll see the success because you were patient and persevered to maximize the time you spent in your lessons.
If you’re transporting your clarinet from home to practice and back, you’ll need a sturdy clarinet case. For more information, check out Choosing a Clarinet Case.