How To Be A Good Student?

December 9, 2007 at 05:08 PM · I have found someone to teach me! So, I have found great advice about being a teacher. And trying to note every, "If Only Students Will/Would, Wont/Wouldn't, etc., etc"

It dawned on me just ask the question; "What Makes A Good Student?" What should a student Do/Not Do, Should/Should Not, etc.

Replies (28)

December 9, 2007 at 05:23 PM · Happy Things My Students Do:

-Show up on time.

-Pay on time.

-Practicing in appropriate amounts and increments.

-Do the best you can.

-Keep an open mind.

-Ask questions.

-Bring chocolate.

Adult students should always remember to say during their lessons:

"It sounded better at home", and "Sorry" (Insert smiley face here).

December 9, 2007 at 07:51 PM · ...ask to play her violin.

...switch to viola every other month.

...bring all your friends to listen. a sports gambling pull with the parents waiting.

...ask to learn Beethoven Sontata the first month.

...get them hair dye and Geritol for Christmas.

...always have three double scotches before lessons.

...wear bikers boots and leathers to each lesson, and get like twenty piercings.

...ask if Smoke on the Water, is an orchestra tune.

Were you talking about that kind of thing?

;). Just kidding.

--otherwise--, you should listen to Anne.

December 9, 2007 at 08:46 PM · Al-

I've been playing and taking lessons since September this year and while going through a used book store found a complete violin sonatas of Beethoven for $4 so naturally I bought for later. Now you've inspired me! Once I get to the end of Suzuki II I'll ask her to switch to this book.

The chocolate idea is good too.

December 9, 2007 at 08:44 PM · -Asking the teacher to demonstrate is fine.

-Karen A. plays viola too.

-Keep the support group at home.

-Gambling should be done at Churchill Downs.

-Requesting a Beethoven Sonata in the first month ain't the same as Getting.

-Clairol # 117. Pepto is in the fridge.

-Save the scotch for AFTER the lesson. Please.

-Earrings that dangle can catch on the fine tuners. Wear at your own risk.

-"Smoke On The Water" is a famous 19th century tone poem. Everyone knows that.

December 9, 2007 at 09:02 PM · Albert, there once was a time!!!!!! :)

December 9, 2007 at 09:05 PM · Anne-

Gadiva, Russel Stover, Dove?

Albert (or Anne) - Name a Scotch for after lessons.

December 9, 2007 at 09:30 PM · Ghirardelli.

I don't care for scotch. Johnny Walker Black seems to be popular...

December 9, 2007 at 11:01 PM · Ditto Johnny Walker....

December 9, 2007 at 11:08 PM · Very true Roy..

December 9, 2007 at 11:11 PM · Tim--you are ready--you can do this!

December 9, 2007 at 11:48 PM · Thanks Al - you're very perceptive. Even people who've heard me play don't always realize that.

To be constructive here though, when I taught and tutored (not violin) I appreciated students who listened to me, absorbed and thought about what I said, and tried to do what I asked them. That's the sine qua non of a good student and it isn't always easy.

December 10, 2007 at 12:55 AM · Yeah, good idea Tim--actually all the Johnny Walker is gone.

...take good notes, after you ask questions.

...have a pencil handy.

...not only be on time, but have your instrument ready, and tuned as close to possible. honest about how much you are really following up in your studies--keep a practice diary.(or, maybe even just blog here). some things on your own--go to symphony, watch greats.

December 10, 2007 at 02:14 AM · Don't practice like a student violinist. Practice like what you want to become.

If you have any recurring pains or aches, make sure you communicate them to your teacher. it's his job to help you use your body in the most effective and comfortable way.

December 10, 2007 at 02:41 AM · Its helpful to go over the things you learned in the lesson shortly afterwards while they are still fresh in your mind. Even if you take notes, there is so much that the brain takes in visually and aurally that cannot be written down. The movements really need to be repeated, maybe on the same day, for them to stick.

Also, make a strong effort to fix small counting and reading mistakes that you made in previous lessons. even though they may seem petty, its a waste of time for your teacher to continually spend time during lessons pointing them out.

December 10, 2007 at 03:57 AM · Things that, as a teacher, I love for when my students do:

-come to each lesson prepared to the best of their ability (not perfect, but just practiced and improved)

-ask me questions when they are genuinely interested about something

-if you need to cancel or reschedule, let the teacher know as far in advance as possible!! (of course, this one goes in reverse for the teacher as well)

-if you have a practice log, be sure to write down exactly what you're practicing, no more and no less! the log is usually a guide for the teacher to help you learn to practice more effectively

-if you haven't practiced much (or at all), don't make excuses, just play to the best of your ability at the lesson (and trust me, even your teacher will have had those kind of weeks!)

-when they come mentally prepared to play and learn

most of all, though: i love teaching a student who is really excited about playing and learning, and who says "thank you" after lessons. i've always done this with my teachers after each lesson, and it really warms my heart to have a student who thanks me after lessons.

December 10, 2007 at 06:45 AM · lol @ ask to play her violin:)

December 10, 2007 at 06:50 AM · Communicate.

Ask questions when you don't understand.


Offer no excuses. Explain if you must.

Be honest.

Listen and watch carefully.

No complaining.

And don't make fun of her when she loses the metronome again.

December 10, 2007 at 12:07 PM · A few people have mentioned this, but I wanted to emphasize it because I discovered it relatively late in life: Write things down!

Take notes either in the lesson or right after the lesson is over. It can be awkward to be writing during a lesson while you're also trying to play too. So for me, one of the many benefits to taking the subway to my lesson, has turned out to be that the ride back to work is just long enough for me to write down everything I remember.

And keep a written practice log. Or a blog. Or both.

I think that many musicians, especially pros but maybe others too, have a better auditory memory than most people. Musicians are generally good at hearing something and remembering it. It took me a long time to discover that *this principle does not apply to me!* On the other hand, I am a great visual/verbal learner. I take great notes. But the skill really doesn't translate. If I hear something once, it goes in one ear and right out the other.

I think that it may be difficult for people for whom listening/remembering comes naturally to understand and realize that it doesn't for everyone, even people who are generally "smart." So I'd encourage first defining your own learning style. Maybe you are one of those natural auditory learners. Or not. And then, either way, talking about it with your teacher. Even though I think she's one of these gifted auditory learners herself, I've been pleased with the way my teacher has responded to my explanations of what I think I need in order to learn best at this point in my musical life.

December 10, 2007 at 03:50 PM · I Can't Thank You All Enough! I was hopping for a gold nugget but with your comments I struck the Mother Load!

I have been told that I have a knack for auditory memory, but also I have to see things done at times. My Adopted Grandfather's people had no written language, as most Sioux, and so it was imparitive to be able to remember the stories/ways. And there are afew times I have to have someone show me as well. Even so, I carry note pads with me because I still like writting notes! I do it in my Congregation meetings since it sounds the points down plus I'm not perfect. And having a knack for being *Auto-didactic* sounds like I have alot in my favor of relearning the violin!

I can promise you all, I will follow through with your points and my teacher! I have a zeal for learning this and look forwards of posting me playing on this sight!!!!!! And I wont be bashfull to ask, of Mr. Pernell and you here on

Thank You All so Very much!

ps: Feel free to add anything else to this post.

:-)and I like the chocolate anne likes, it "is" Good!!!

pss: i like johnny, however, I just remembered; For you Scotch drinkers, it's hard to beat the single malt McClealland (Speyside or islay) for under $20.00 Mmmmmm!

December 10, 2007 at 05:40 PM · Here's one quality that a good student possesses:


1. Listening attentively to the teacher with eye contact and no interruptions, excuses, or other comments. (A teacher may have to foster this with some students)

2. Listening objectively when practicing, which means a student must hear him/herself as if he/she were watching and listening from the audience's perspective. This takes great skill. Happily, there are recording devices.

December 10, 2007 at 06:11 PM · Hi, Royce. What a great post from everyone.

A thought - If you were actually learning it yourself and acting as your own teacher, but you considered your actual teacher as a "coach" rather than as a "teacher," would that make a difference in how you interacted?


December 10, 2007 at 07:08 PM · Play proud. Don't make little squeeky bow strokes. Leave the ego at home and play. Your teacher knows you are going to sound like a beginner, so don't beat yourself up. Teaching time is precious little. Do not use it up saying I'm sorry. Play through the piece requested. If asked to stop, and repeat, then do so. If not, play the piece through.

Scotch and chocolate, sounds good to me! How about scotch, in hot chocolate? Or Schnaups in hot chocolate, it is winter anyway, at least at this latitude!

December 10, 2007 at 07:19 PM · ...and the number one way to be a good student: swish, drum-roll: wear your ipod during lesson.

December 11, 2007 at 04:42 AM · But it ALWAYS sounds better at home :)

Ok, now that is over with...

Listen attentively, that means with your eyes as well esp. when your teacher is demonstrating a technique.

Take notes on what you need to work on until your next lesson.

Take notes on your routine, successes and failures during practice time at home.

Ask questions - rembember to ask "why" as well as "how".

And most importantly - have fun!

December 11, 2007 at 04:04 PM · Sandy- I would have to think on that. My last teacher, Dona Cole, could be both. Teach me something new and coach me to improve what I had learned.

Rev. Ed- I'll bare a few scriptures in mind, "Be quick to listen, slow to speak" and "In the abundance of many words ther never fails to be a trnsgression".

John- I am proud of how I've come along and am excited to have someone to help me to the next levels! And I know that where I am at now that he once was also.(chocolate, coffee, cognac..Ahhh there are those "C" words again!) Scotch too!

Albert- Dude, thanks for getting me to laugh so that I wont stress out!

Mendy- You bet!

Anne, Emily, Willie ,Tim, Tommy, and Karen (a diamond in the gold)a huge thank you.

Dr.Pinell wants to hear me the week I get back after the Hollidays (I get 10 days off paid)and as he said to see if I will be put with a group or one on one with him. The advanced students get one on one, which is understandable. I'm sure there are other things that he will be looking/listening for. I wonder if I should post that, "What will he be looking/listening for when he hears me play at our first meeting?

December 11, 2007 at 07:30 PM · Alright--Alright Royce--if you can't take good coaching about how to be a good student--then just go ahead and laugh at me and listen to the others! ;)

You should have an extra bottle of Scotch to share then.

Rt 1., Box 45

Dewars Oklahoma

December 11, 2007 at 08:27 PM · Hey Al,

You give good council! I read what you write on other post! And you are funny at times. I'll buy you a drink! Keep your heads up!

Oklahoma you say? My Mom lived in Broken Arrow and Ok. City for a while.

December 11, 2007 at 09:08 PM · Too far--git one of your buddies one, and tell'm I sent it... Happy Holidays, and productive lessons.

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