Back to School: How Long Should My Lesson Be?

People generally think of a music lesson as being a 30-minute chunk of time in which to accomplish a whole lot of work. We have to review what you've done, give you some new information, workshop your scales, warm-ups, studies, pieces and other repertoire and give some new material to work on. All in a pizza delivery-guarantee window.

When considering music lesson length, there are three main factors that come into play when it comes to deciding a lesson length:

Budgetary Constraints

Student Interest

Lesson Content

The first is obvious. If you cannot afford more than a 30-minute lesson, then you must restrict the lesson length. There is no debate about that.

Student interest mainly affects younger students, in that if one cannot give their attention for more than a 30-minute span, the lesson becomes a chore rather than the positive learning experience it can and should be. But for most students over age 10, maintaining focus for longer than half an hour is much easier, which gives way to the final point.

Lesson content is king. It is hard to gauge improvement with simple cursory reviews, or explain a music theory concept beyond what a book might say in the time constraints of a 30-minute lesson. Often, there are great depths to be found in the simplest of foundational concepts, depths which can ultimately lead to greater student successes.

However, many teachers feel that by suggesting that a student take a longer lesson than that, they may be perceived as being "greedy." After all, a 45-minute lesson does cost more than a 30-minute one. But no teacher is going to suggest a longer lesson strictly for monetary gain. Rather, it is solely to see a student improve at a better rate, with greater breadth of discovery and accomplishment.

The reality is, a great many students are chronically undertaught because of this teacher fear of being seen negatively. As a result, a lot of students move at a slower pace of improvement simply because there isn't the time to workshop something that may be blocking their upward path. Having 50% more lesson time can often lead to 75% faster improvement. We have seen this time and time again with our own students. That little bit of extra investment of time and money can yield far greater dividends than you may think.

Furthermore, as students progress, pieces simply take longer to perform, which means they take longer to workshop. While this may seem obvious, many students (and even some teachers!) have neglected this important point. Grade six pieces are longer and more complex than grade two. Beyond extra practice time (a subject for another blog!), extra lesson time becomes a necessity - simply to cover more ground.

In the end, lesson length is a very personal, individual choice. However, don't think that your lesson needs to be confined to a prescribed 30-minute box. You would be surprised what 15 extra minutes with your supportive teacher will do to your improvement. Talk to your teacher to see if a longer lesson may be the right answer for your future progress. 

Finally, talk to other students. See how many of them are taking a 45- or 60-minute lesson. You may be surprised by how many there are, and how much happier they are with their music.

And you should talk to the girl who's taking 105-minute lessons. (No, we're not making this up.)

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Welcome Piano Teacher Gregory Millar!

We would like to extend a very warm welcome to Dr. Gregory Millar, our newest faulty member at MTMS! Gregory is a very accomplished pianist, chamber musician, arranger and engraver. He brings a wealth of experience and joy for music to our school.