Teach Myself or Take Private Lessons?

Private Lessons

by David Bertie

I am often surprised at people's shocked reactions when they learn that I still receive regular trumpet lessons. Seeking lessons later in my trumpet-playing career has been an important factor in developing my skills and moving forward as a complete musician. I have been taught by some amazing players (see page vii) who passed on their Iove of playing and also encouraged my interest for all things trumpet-related.

Thanks to the enthusiasm of my teachers, my mindset is now one of practicing for my own musical development as opposed to focusing on the demands of.the next gig. More often than not, my teachers' assignments contain more challenging music than I am required to perform in rehearsals and concerts.

The comparison to athletic activity is often made for the physical aspects of trumpet-playing, and yet the same comparisons are rarely made when discussing tuition beyond a college degree. Top-ranking professional athletes use the services of training coaches to keep them at the top of their respective professions. I feel the same enthusiasm to continue learning would be highly beneficial for trumpeters.

The greatest benefit lessons have given to my playing is having a daily practice routine set for me. A teacher listening to my playing can make more accurate judgements about the direction my practice needs to take. Adjusting the content of the daily routine means continuous long- term progress is achievable. This rarely happens when you study on your own. You may believe you need to practice a directly related exercise to solve a concern, whereas, a teacher is likely to recommend you practice something more fundamental, thus solving the problem more effectively.

A good daily practice routine will challenge every aspect of your playing so all areas of your technique can develop equally. Teachers tend to be aware of a much wider range of repertoire and most importantly can provide the advice of how to practice it, when to practice it and how to achieve maximum benefit from it.

Completing a full week of three-hour practice sessions is a remarkably satisfying achievement and one's enthusiasm grows exponentially. lf you are not studying with someone, try some lessons for three months. Act on the advice you are given and you will see yourself improve. Good lessons cost money but you cannot make a better investment in yourself. The people around you will soon recognize the difference in your playing which will boost your confidence further and this, in turn, will develop your love of music to a much higher degree.

Used by permission from David Bertie's book
Advanced Studies of Aaron Harris Reinterpreted by David Bertie