The week before last, I had one of the worst lessons I’ve ever had! It was my own fault, since I was completely unprepared. And not to say that under-preparedness hasn’t happened before, but I think I’ve just gotten away with it, or maybe it’s gone unnoticed. It has taken me a few weeks to re-adjust and realize I have to be practicing as if for a performance in order to be fully prepared for lessons. This realization isn’t that profound, but I want to write it out so we can see it in words.
To have a good lesson, we have to practice as if we are preparing for a performance.
When I was in high school, I had a chamber coach once tell me that we should be prepared to offer our best to our teachers so that our teachers can take our best and make it better. I couldn’t agree more! But as someone who is naturally able to do well under pressure, I hadn’t felt the repercussions of not offering my best, until two weeks ago. During that difficult lesson, my teacher said to me that it is better to cancel in the future, if I’m having an off week. My teacher is wonderful and understanding, so this was not said harshly. But after a lot of thought, I realized the lesson bothered me because I was wasting our time! My teacher could have easily been practicing his own instrument, answering emails, doing committee work, taking care of his family, or any number of other things. And I could have been doing homework or making up for the time that I didn’t practice. I’m extremely busy, so I hate wasted time.
But….off weeks are okay occasionally. Everyone has a rough time practicing now and again. A step back or just admitting to yourself “it ain’t happening this week,” are both healthy things to do. But that admission is best made outside of the lesson room. What I’ve come to adopt are the following, and I’m going to try my very best to implement these throughout the remainder of the semester, even when they’re hard to do!
- Sarah Castle