What to Expect at Your First Music Tutoring Session

What to Expect at Your First Music Tutoring Session

So, you have decided that you want to learn music. Now what? Music is a broad field with several specialties, and you may feel lost as to where to begin.

While it is possible to learn music on your own, live music tutoring is the fastest way to achieve your music learning goals. 

By having a tutor walk you through how to learn music, you have less to worry about. Personalized lesson plans and one-on-one conversations about your goals will make this journey easier and more enjoyable for you. The first step is figuring out what you’re looking for.

What type of music lessons are for you?

Learning music doesn’t have to only mean learning how to read notes on a piece of paper and translate them to a piano keyboard. There are dozens of instruments to choose from (including your own voice), millennia of music history to explore, and even learning the skills to write music of your own through music theory and music composition.

Whether you are looking for music lessons for beginners or you already have a foundation in music, you have many choices. Which path will you choose?

Reading music

Knowing how to read music is incredibly beneficial no matter what type of music lesson you are looking for. There are many different methods through which this may be accomplished. 

For students learning instruments, this might mean correlating the language on sheet music to the notes or fingerings on the instrument. Every instrument is different and the keys you press or holes you cover or even how you blow air through your instrument will equal different notes on the paper. 

If you have seen The Sound of Music, you may be familiar with the song “Do-Re-Mi.” This is a song where the main character teaches others how to make music using what is called “solfège.” In this system, each note is assigned one of seven sounds: do, re, mi, fa, so, la, ti. Mixing these sounds together is one way to learn the basics of music, and can be easily applied to reading traditional music notation. 

Instrumental

With so many different instruments, how do you choose which one is right for you? You might have a preference for one reason or another: perhaps you like the sound of a clarinet or the versatility of a piano or you already have access to a trumpet and would rather not buy another instrument. 

Depending on the instrument (or instruments!) you choose, your lessons will differ, as will the resources and supplies. For example, if you choose to learn guitar, you will need guitar picks and strings in addition to the instrument, and there is also a second type of way to read music to learn specifically for instruments like the guitar and ukelele. If you decide to take up the saxophone, you will need to buy reeds (the thin sliver of wood that helps make the sound) and supplies to clean your instrument.

A music tutor can help you narrow down what instrument is right for you and all of the unique aspects that come with it.

Voice

With voice lessons, your instrument is a part of you! Rather than learning how to press the keys on a piano, you will learn how to control your voice to hit the right notes and use your breath to maximum effect.

Even though voice lessons typically do not include an instrument (aside from a piano, perhaps, to match the tone of your voice to the tone of the piano), there are still supplies that will aid you from the first day. A metronome, for example, helps you sing (or play!) in time and at the right speed. There are separate metronomes you can buy, or even free apps on your phone. 

Music theory

Music theory is about understanding how music works. Why does this sound feel happy, while another feels sad? Why does one collection of notes work well together while another set of notes is jarring and dissonant?

Working with a tutor to teach you how to learn music theory is an ideal approach. While music theory can be learned on its own, knowing how to play at least one instrument will ensure you have a solid foundation in music in general, which will make learning music theory much easier. The piano is the gold standard for musical instruments and makes an invaluable aid when breaking down the theory concepts. 

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Music production

One option for using music professionally is to enter music production. This involves writing and arranging music, sound design, and more. The entire process from a musician creating their music to that track arriving in your Spotify playlist is music production!

When looking for a tutor to teach you more about this field, you may wish to seek out someone who has professional experience, as they will be able to share the various aspects of this broad topic with you.  

Online or in-person music lessons?

Over the past few years, many of us have come to use video calls as a frequent tool of communication. Whether for meetings or taking classes, platforms such as Zoom or Microsoft Teams have become quite familiar. 

One of Wyzant’s advantages is that it is easy to access tutors online and learn music at home. When taking online music lessons, you have the ability to choose tutors that live in your city or across the country in an effort to find the person who is right for you.

Resource and file sharing are much easier when you are both on a computer or phone, and Wyzant’s online video chat platform has all the tools you need to facilitate an effective and smooth learning experience. It is also worth considering whether you are more comfortable working with someone seated beside you or through a computer screen.

For instrumental music tutoring sessions, you may find that in-person lessons have a particular advantage in that it is easier for a tutor to show you how to manipulate your instrument’s keys or to correct improper posture or fingerings. While this is the more traditional setting, it is also possible in online lessons (and there are even pros to doing so). You can find both online and in-person music tutors through Wyzant.

For lessons such as music theory and music production, which do not necessarily use instruments in every lesson, you may find that it is easier to learn online. An online music tutor can share their screen with you to demonstrate a new topic or how to work a relevant computer program, and you can share your screen with them to receive feedback and step-by-step instructions.

The same learning environment does not work for everyone, so take some time to consider what is best for you. 

The perfect music tutor for you

Just as every student has different needs, so too does every tutor have their own different field of expertise. Take a look at any given tutor’s biography to get a feeling for their personality and specialty, which will help determine if they are the right tutor for you.

First, you need to make sure a tutor gives lessons for the topic you want to learn. A tutor who advertises themselves as a piano and voice teacher, for example, is probably not the first person you want to turn to for music production. Someone who has taught music theory at a university for several years would be an excellent resource for learning music theory, but may not be your first choice for learning a musical instrument.

You may also wish to consider your teacher’s professional background. Are you looking for someone classically trained who may have valuable industry experience for helping you get started in the professional music world? Are you more comfortable with someone who is self-trained, who may have a unique perspective? 

Of course, you must also consider more practical matters: availability and budget. Finding a tutor that lines up with your schedule and fits the budget you have in mind for lessons will make sure the experience is comfortable for you both.

If you are ever unsure, do not hesitate to reach out to Wyzant music tutors with questions. They will be happy to help you get the right lessons for you!

Help your tutor helps you

In your first lesson, there are a few things to keep in mind no matter the topic. Your tutor may be the expert between you, but your lessons will be a partnership in learning. Let your tutor know why you’re taking lessons, and what inspired you! Tell them about your history with music! These will be great first steps in your tutor-student relationship.

Once the two of you have introduced yourselves, it will be time to start building a lesson plan. This starts with understanding your background in music. Can you read sheet music? Have you played an instrument before? Were you in chorus in middle or high school? Your tutor can take this information and apply it to your lessons to help you review what you know before moving on to new material, or help you start from scratch!

Your tutor will also want to know your goals. Are you looking for help with homework to pass Music Theory 101? Are you interested in composing your own music? Do you want to start a career in music production? Your goals will determine your lessons going forward, so it is important to share them with your tutor.

Ultimately, your tutor is there for you and wants to help you! Open communication is vital.

How long does it take to learn music?

The answer to this question depends on how much you practice. Just as with any skill, you need to take the time to practice what you learn in your lessons in order to master it. Depending on the topic you choose, this will take many different forms.

When learning to read music, you will first be introduced to what is called the “staff,” shown below. Each note (sound) is shown on the staff, and its name (or letter) is designated by position relative to the lines and the spaces in between them.

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