Samstag, 4. Dezember 2010

To be Being your own teacher

When you learn to play an instrument, you start with regular lessons with a teacher. He or she helps you to play the instrument in the right way. Right from the beginning though a student spends most of their practise time alone. In the best scenario a teacher shows you how you should practise. Two rules are unquestionable right: „Practise as well as possible“ and of course „Practise as much as possible“
As we know our first connection we have to something is very important. Thus the first lessons I get are the most important ones. What does the teacher says about posture, about embouchure, does he or she helps to find a good reed? It is evident: the role of a teacher is so vital!
However, the majority of the time we spend with our instrument is away from a teacher. We depend on ourselves. And must therefore be our own teachers. Time is always scarce, so it is so important that we use our time as sensibly as possible. The typical way of practising: I take a piece, start from beginning and after the first mistake I stop and try to repeat the failed passage with the mistake in it and go on like this till the end. This is definitely not the best way to practise.
Practising is a creative process, an art form in itself. Before starting it is best is to consider: What is my aim and how can I achieve it. Possible questions could be among others:

1. On which technical problem should I work, and how do I include them in my warm-up?

2. On which pieces should I work at the moment – which piece needs a break?

3. Does a piece require detail work or shall I try to get through the whole piece?

4. In which sections do I practise: one bar, one tone combination or some several lines?

5. How much time do I spend on one aspect, when do I go to the next?

6. What is most important?: The sound, the legato or the musical idea?

7. Do I learn to play by heart, do I record myself?

8. Do I follow a strict system or do I decide spontaneously how to practise?

9. Should I have breaks in between?

10. Does my practising follows a clear idea or do I just play?

Etc. etc.
We see It is obvious: There are so many decisions to be made. But that’s the fun of the game: Be creative and shape the practising in the best way that you can achieve the best result and that it is fun. It is very easy: Just observe your practising like a teacher and be honest with yourself: Is it really good how I am practising? We are often better at criticizing others than ourselves. When you start to teach you have to think about which way of practising is the best for the pupil. Just do the same with yourself: be your own teacher.

and: go on a new organisation is born.

very best

Matthias Müller


  1. Great read Matthias, the questions you pose are very recognizable :)

    By the way: the url isn't correct, it's .org

    - Koen

  2. Great post! I am seeking appropriate books for my beginner clarinet sudents. Can you give some suggestons?