Encouraging Private Lessons

Lesley Schultz • March 2023String Section • March 13, 2023

As music educators we have all benefited from private instruction, and we know what a difference it can make in our ensembles and for student growth. Here are some ways you can encourage more of your students to take private lessons in your ensembles.

First, make it convenient. Work with your school district to allow private lesson teachers to come in during the school day. This eliminates the excuse that students don’t have time after-school or time to travel to the music store or the community arts building for private lessons. This will take some coordination between you and your district as the private lesson teachers should have a background check done, and your district may require other paperwork. Set up the private lesson teachers in a practice room or small space if possible, or if they are coming in after-school hours they could use your ensemble room.  

Next, work with a local school for the arts or another music school specializing in private lessons. They have the facilities to house many private lessons and some even have youth ensembles your students can take part in. I think any extra playing will benefit the student that you will see in your ensemble. Find one that is local and encourage your students to check it out.

Third, try to set up a lesson scholarship program through your booster organization. As we know private lessons have a cost associated with them. This can be a barrier to entry for many students. Taking away part or all the cost of private lessons can encourage more students to take private lessons in your ensemble. Boosters can do many things for your organization, but this is one way they can directly and positively impact the ensemble, by raising the growth and proficiency of the students in the ensemble. If you don’t have a particularly strong booster organization, perhaps there is a district foundation that would fund a few scholarships. 

Lastly, make sure you really talk up private lessons with your students. Encourage them that this is how you get individual attention and coaching on your instrument. Tell them that with practice, private lessons can raise the level of your playing quickly. Offer flyers of local music schools and arts organizations. Put private lesson teacher names and numbers in your handbook. No ensemble is going to have 100% private lesson participation, but using some of these strategies, see a rise in students taking private lessons.

Lesley Schultz currently teaches secondary general music and orchestra at Princeton City Schools (Cincinnati, OH). She earned her Bachelor of Music Education degree from West Virginia University and her Master of Music Education degree from Ohio University. 

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