Ideal lesson length - What's best for who?

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Postby Dr. John Zeigler - PEP Ed » Thu Mar 19, 2009 10:58 am

Lesson lengths typically range anywhere from a half hour for beginners to perhaps as much as a couple hours for advanced students. However, if you as a teacher or student, could choose your ideal lesson length, what would it be? Can you accomplish everything you need to accomplish in a half hour or would an hour be better in an ideal world? What are the advantages and disadvantages of longer or shorter lessons? How would you use available lesson time to best advantage?
All religions, arts and sciences are branches of the same tree. All these aspirations are directed toward ennobling man's life, lifting it from the sphere of mere physical existence and leading the individual towards freedom. - Albert Einstein
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Postby Tranquillo » Fri Mar 20, 2009 3:51 am

I take hourly lessons once a week on piano. EVERY week we go overtime, my piano teacher often spends 1.5 hours to 2 hours, sometimes longer if needed. I think that longer lessons really depend on the teacher, my piano teacher intentionally leaves gaps in between his students to write notes and to keep them overtime if they permit it.

I think overtime really depends on the teacher, I feel that as a student I appreciate it much and I also feel that that the teacher is very dedicated to his/her students and work.
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Postby 112-1182392787 » Mon Mar 23, 2009 1:04 pm

My lessons began as an hour-long lesson and so did those of my child who is now an adult. As a beginner, an hour was enough, but in later years it was insufficient.
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Postby Dr. John Zeigler - PEP Ed » Mon Mar 23, 2009 1:34 pm

I think the lesson lengths discussed by Becibu and pianissimo, who are from Australia and Canada, illustrate why I started this thread. The most typical length here in the U.S. for beginners is probably 30 minutes, though that is, by no means, universal. I know that many teachers here wish they could spend more time with their students, recognizing that the youngest students may not be able to concentrate for more than 30 minutes. Many teachers, as amply illustrated by numerous posts in other threads here, feel that it's hard to accomplish much in 30 minutes. I'm interested in having teachers expand on this topic here.
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Postby Tranquillo » Wed Apr 08, 2009 4:22 am

I don't know the customs in other coutries and I am sure that this varies from teacher to teacher. It is a commonality for me, as a student of music to have a teacher spend extra time that exceeds the time assigned. Also, it is a commonaility that many teachers nowadays contact the student via email answering questions over email and sometimes assigning material through email. There are other teachers I have seen that tend to do well without going overtime, even in the half hour slot I notice they do this through a way of condenscing information telling the student 'what you need to work on' but not going into extreme depth into the history, physics, motion, music, etc. This often is suffice as teachers effectively have students do research assignments at home.

I would also like to add that it really varies from instrument to instrument, violin players (not all) but many I know don't like to go over 2 hours of playing time as being in such a posture and standing in such a way can cause strain to the neck. I know of wind players that don't like to spend more than 1 and a half hours simply because they tend to get dizzy and tired. As a singer my stamina right now is an hour, I get drained any longer than an hour and a half.
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Postby 112-1182392787 » Fri Apr 10, 2009 11:07 am

It is interesting, Becibu, that you have different tolerances depending on which instrument you are studying.

would also like to add that it really varies from instrument to instrument, violin players (not all) but many I know don't like to go over 2 hours of playing time as being in such a posture and standing in such a way can cause strain to the neck


If a violin player is straining the neck, then this is a serious postural issue which can lead to injury. Such a player may be turning the head to the left (twisting) or tilting it to the side, both of which destroy alignment. I don't suppose if you are accompanying someone like that you could suggest they get their teacher to help them address it. I would rather imagine getting sore feet from standing then neck strain.




Edited By pianissimo on 1239383682
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Postby Tranquillo » Fri Apr 10, 2009 6:12 pm

pianissimo wrote:It is interesting, Becibu, that you have different tolerances depending on which instrument you are studying.

would also like to add that it really varies from instrument to instrument, violin players (not all) but many I know don't like to go over 2 hours of playing time as being in such a posture and standing in such a way can cause strain to the neck


If a violin player is straining the neck, then this is a serious postural issue which can lead to injury. Such a player may be turning the head to the left (twisting) or tilting it to the side, both of which destroy alignment. I don't suppose if you are accompanying someone like that you could suggest they get their teacher to help them address it. I would rather imagine getting sore feet from standing then neck strain.

Yes, true straining means that the posture is incorrect. Even so, with correct posture I think when (all) instrumentalists who exceed an hour of sitting or standing in the correct position can still do damage. Its happened to me. I foolishly use to sit at the piano for 2 - 3 hours without getting up. My posture wasn't bad, infact it was quite good. Because I sat down for long periods of time my muscles ended tightening up and soon I found it hard to sit down for more than 15 - 20 minutes without getting sore.

I saw a doctor, masseur and physical therapist all of which who have said that it is common for people to get tight muscles from staying in one position for hours.

P.S I get sore feet too!
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Postby 112-1182392787 » Sat Apr 11, 2009 6:58 pm

I had serious posture training myself at one point (violin) and it makes a difference. I think that piano is actually worse for that than violin, because sitting on chairs and benches is not that good for the body, and you cannot change positions. If you stand while playing, and if the instrument is like an extension of your body, then you can shift your weight and position, step across the room and even walk around the house. Of course that is impossible when playing the piano.

How would you compare that aspect with voice? The only way to sing well is to have good physical support for your voice, so you would automatically keep good posture. Do you also find that you have more freedom of movement? You did write that you were tired faster in vocal than piano lessons.

Another aspect of long lessons is that one does not have to be playing all the time. There can be theory, ear training, and (?)
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Postby Tranquillo » Sun Apr 12, 2009 2:43 am

Pianissimo, it is true what you say ... this topic seems to get a little OT, so I think if we are to continue this it's not a bad idea to start a new thread.

I had a lot of pain sitting at the piano rather than singing. One of the reasons was due to having to support myself properly as most of the time I used my upper back to support my weight. The reason why I don't have much tolerance as a singer is because I lack stamina the moment, there as one stage where I would do 2 - 3 hour practice sessions. Still singing involves the use of many muscles, the diaphragm in particular is one big muscle that wraps around, the vocal muscles are also in a lot of use. Its like how any athelete needs to rest and not overwork ones self, the same applies to instrument playing.

The one thing with singing capacity is also the daily vocal use. Some people use their voices for their jobs (interpreters, lectures, teachers, etc) ... the voice also has a temperament and fragility, things like lack of sleep, alchohol, tobacco and dairy foods affect the voice.

I did have pretty bad posture for voice (and generally), infact functional scoliosis is one thing I got from bad posture (this is not severe scoliosis, it's reversible scoliosis that can be fixed with physical therapy). I'm better now but not perfect (still working on it) my shoulders slouched which didn't allow me to get a full breath of air, my neck also wasn't situated properly - it was slightly tilted and I would lean on one leg rather than both. I find that now I have more freedom of movement.

I just get a tired voice a lot of the time but still, much of it yes, is correct due to the fact that I sing a lot more in a lesson. I think my singing lessons are more condensed that my piano lesson. I always feel exhausted after a singing lesson, with piano I sometimes feel like I can't mentally take it anymore because of fatigue. I also get pretty sore these days.

... I don't do much exclusive theory/ear training at my private lessons admittedly and this is because a lot of it is taught incoparated into practical works, also I do a lot of aural and theory in school.
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Re: Ideal lesson length - What's best for who?

Postby maggieh » Mon Jul 13, 2015 10:12 am

As an adult learner, I have 1hr lesson every two weeks, but in between seeing my tutor I practice up to 2hrs a day, plenty of homework. It seems to work at present. Though I find I can be a little slower than maybe someone a bit younger. I am definitely making progress though.
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