Violin Lessons Length Which Is Best?

February 28, 2018, 7:09 AM · My teacher recently suggested that I might like 1 hour lessons instead of taking 1/2 hour lessons.

Monetarily this wouldn't change anything because it was suggested we could skip a week in between. Or I could opt for weekly 1 hour lessons which would be more expensive.

Which do you prefer or recommend and why? Have you had experience with both? Is there and advantage either way?

Replies (26)

February 28, 2018, 7:39 AM · I would personally recommend weekly hour-long lessons if you can afford them. As a teacher, in an ideal world (not reality ;))I would have all beginning students for 1/2 hr. up to around Suzuki book 2 level (for students who are regular practicers) or book 4 (irregular practicers)when I would switch them to 45 min. lessons. More advanced students who practice regularly (1 hr. plus a day) or who play in several ensembles would have weekly 60 min. lessons. It can be very difficult to fit in the repertoire, scales, etudes, and other exercises needed by advanced students in only 30 min.
If you are on a budget but are easily motivated to practice regularly bi-weekly lessons can work, but I don't generally recommend that to students as I find most do better when I see them weekly. I think your teacher may have suggested this option because it can be easier to cover things more in depth when you have a longer time (30 min. with an advanced student often feels like racing against the clock to fit everything in and it is difficult to focus on anything in depth).
Edited: February 28, 2018, 7:55 AM · Depends on the age of the student and the stage they're at. In the case of an adult student if the teacher suggests a 1-hour lesson I'd say your teacher is of the opinion you're ready for it, so I'd say go for it. At that more advanced level having a fortnightly lesson is likely to be more productive, but that depends on the student.

Monetary-wise there may indeed be no difference between 2 x 1/2 hr lessons and a 1-hour lesson, but there are advantages in other ways, including -
1) Your travelling to and from the lessons.
2) Every lesson has short start and finish "dead" periods during which there is no teaching, so a 1 hour lesson will have half the number of such periods that 2 half-hour lessons would have.
3) More work in-depth can be done.
4) From the teacher's point of view a single lesson will halve the amount of notes the teacher writes up after the two shorter lessons.

February 28, 2018, 8:10 AM · If you are preparing more material during the week than can be covered in your lesson, it is time to move to a longer lesson.
February 28, 2018, 8:20 AM · If you have to choose between 1/2 hour a week and 1 hour every two weeks as you are considering atm, I'd stick with the 1/2 weekly.

1 hour weekly would be ideal.

February 28, 2018, 8:31 AM · Thank you Ingrid,Trevor and Mary.

You have me sold on the 1 hour idea. As Trevor has said, we do loose some time beginning and ending.

Right now we are working on an especially challenging section of a song for me. Much of the music I practice has a an AA/BB arrangement. We usually only have time to work on the first section and then she tells me to work on the B section for the following week.I am experiencing some disconnect between sections in thinking like this.I'll get the A section down pretty well and then it seems like a leap to go to B section seamlessly usually resulting in a timing error.

It doesn't help that the second section is usually the finale compared to the A section using more demanding technique. More string crossings over more strings so the segue is part apprehension at more difficult material and part the thinking that I am beginning a new section.

If I could mentally look at it like only one continuous ongoing song I believe it would be easier and this is why I think she is recommending an hour lesson.

February 28, 2018, 8:33 AM · Demian I missed your post. I can see the rationale behind your approach here. If I can swing it I'll probably do an hour each week.
March 6, 2018, 2:38 AM · I would recommend one hour per week if you can do it. You seem to be very motivated and half an hour is very short. It takes time to unpack the violin, tune etc. I usually teach my pupils one hour per week and if they are tight financially we just leave out a lesson occasionally.
March 6, 2018, 7:52 AM · Speaking for myself, in my own situation re: 1/2hr vs 1hr lessons and financial feasibility: if I could afford it, I would take weekly hour lessons.

As it stands, my financial situation is not conducive towards having a weekly one hour lesson. If I could afford it (easily, not stretching), then I would definitely take the one hour weekly lesson. My teacher only offers hour-long lessons, and half hour weekly would not be worth it considering it takes me a half hour to get to them from work and more than a half hour home - on public transportation. I figure, this is a love-of-doing-it situation so I do my best with lesson frequency. Hoping to manage thrice monthly lessons or a period of time later this spring or summer, or fall latest, we'll see...

Good luck!

March 6, 2018, 8:28 AM · Interesting--I very rarely upsell lesson lengths. Usually students propose them and I hem and haw before agreeing to it. I have to be convinced they'll have enough material and that they're practicing.

I'd find alternating weeks to be a scheduling pain. And then if the student misses one, they haven't had a lesson in 3 weeks and they usually drift backwards. Better to have the weekly goal methinks.

March 6, 2018, 12:02 PM · Thank you Vivien and Scott.

I tend to approach my teacher as friend and not someone who I have oppressive expectations of.Even though I'm the one who is paying I like to transition into the lesson and then move into the more serious training. This usually results in me asking questions and I might briefly say what I've been doing. That kind of small talk sort of thing.Sometimes this is probably 5 or 10 minutes lost. This is mostly related to playing and music and I think it helps me to mentally acclimate to what I need to do. I seem to need a "settle in" time.I'm usually getting out music and tuning while all this is happening so it isn't time totally lost.I guess you might call this the pre-lesson. Then the wrap up or the post-lesson. Both seem essential to me and not a waste of time.

We agreed on the 1 hour lessons to see if it helps, however she will be away here and there, so this poses a problem to keep continuity. My area is calling for snow and that will certainly cancel my lesson tomorrow. :-(.I plan to play regularly with others and keep up with YouTube videos and challenging material, so maybe having gaps won't be so bad.

The reality might be closer to a once every other week kind of thing occasionally, or a 1/2 week and then a 1 hour week. Financially it's a balancing act. I'm not independently wealthy. I have calculated how much it cost me to learn one song in terms of training and it's expensive!

So Pamela I'm right there with you on this . We do what we can for the love of doing it :^).

March 6, 2018, 1:30 PM · "I have calculated how much it cost me to learn one song in terms of training and it's expensive!"

I think you'll find that aa you improve (and hear your teacher saying the same thing again and again), you'll start to teach yourself. The priority list is fairly straightforward:
As you prepare for a lesson, just ask yourself:
-How's my posture?
-How's my contact point?
-Am I playing the correct pitches?
-Am I playing the correct rhythms?
-Am I playing the correct bowings?
-Do I have a decent sound quality?

If you can check these boxes, you may be spending time and energy learning a new piece, but you're not spending money at a lesson. Ideally, teachers shouldn't have to point out the obvious things.

March 6, 2018, 3:42 PM · Time standards are arbitrary at best. The real question is: How much have you learned and have to practice between lessons? If, in 30 minutes you have filled your practice schedule for the upcoming week, putting more on your schedule isn't productive and may even be demotivating. The use of time has a lot to do with your personality. While some can spend hours on delving into a single skill, others get bored in 15 minutes.

Try the hour and see how it works for your personal development. If you improve faster it is working for you. If you find yourself overloaded or otherwise demotivated then the longer lesson isn't your best investment of time. There is no single "right answer" that fits everyone.

March 6, 2018, 5:57 PM · My daughter's teacher suggested moving her from 30 min to 45 and then to 60 at about the stages that I would have expected. Also, some teachers are in high demand and their schedules are full. So, if a student leaves, that's an opportunity to expand the lessons of others or to add a new student, and all of that has to be balanced carefully.

I find the edge effects irritating, that is why I take lessons only very few weeks but they are an hour, sometimes 90 minutes. I could probably afford to do more, but I'm paying for 60-minute weekly lessons for two kids right now too, and my younger daughter needs a full-sized cello.

March 7, 2018, 10:51 AM · We can take heart, if we were into horses and owned one, the costs would be in the $500/month plus range for boarding/stabling alone, and then there are the riding lessons that rival the cost of violin lessons!
March 7, 2018, 11:14 AM · I'm 56 and started lessons just over a year and half ago. They began as 1 hour every (at my teacher's suggestion) 2 weeks. As mentioned in previous posts, there's setup and break down time and often some conservation when he arrives, which all takes a bit of practice time. I'm interested in learning music theory also, which apparently many adults are not, so some of the lesson time was devoted to that discussion which resulted in lessons quickly lasting longer than an hour. After a couple of times, the lessons stabilized into 1.5 hrs every 2 weeks and I simply pay him 1.5 times his hourly rate. This schedule gives me plenty of time to practice between lessons and I try to practice every day; we don't feel rushed and have time to cover whatever topic(s) are on the agenda; and it splits the difference in time/cost between 1/2 hour and hour weekly lessons. The length of the lesson and time between lessons may not work for children, but works great for me.

Related to another thread about teachers coming to the student's house, he comes to mine so this schedule is a more efficient use of his travel expense.
March 7, 2018, 4:28 PM · I'm thinking that one big reason to go for the hour-long is that your teacher feels it is the right thing, and there are probably reasons why your teacher feels it will be most effective.
Edited: March 8, 2018, 5:42 PM · I don’t think it is a “one size fits all ” kind of situation. It depends how much you practice a day and the level of rep you are working on.

I have weekly hour long lessons. With etudes, solo Bach, and other repertoire, an hour goes fast. Also I enjoy chitchatting with my teacher and I don’t mind if a lesson ends 5 or 10 minutes earlier occasionally. I prefer ending a lesson earlier over not having enough time.

I personally wouldn’t use the “$$ per song” metric. It is not sweat shop.

March 8, 2018, 8:51 AM · I have a one-hour lesson every 4-6 weeks typically. If I tried to have a weekly lesson then I'd feel I hadn't had any chance to do any actual practice between lessons, between orchestra, chamber music and the rest of life. I learn in quite a self-directed way: my repertoire and etude choices, bowings, and fingerings are all my own.

My teacher is also quite expensive (though much less expensive than my wife's horse...)

March 8, 2018, 9:04 AM · Thank you all for the comments. I am hopeful this might help others as well.
My teacher did suggest that maybe 1 hour lessons might work better. She's a very intelligent girl and I never doubted her reasons. She didn't insist or try to push the idea in any way. She seems fine either way on this, but thought maybe trying an hour would be a beneficial thing to try. I'm all for anything she suggests. I was curious what others were doing.

Not sure if anyone else teaching does this. My teacher is very liberal in terms of lesson time. I have occasionally had a 45 minute lesson that was supposed to be 1/2 hour.If she has a thing she wants me to understand or work through she will stretch it out a few more minutes or if we miss a lesson she will take extra time to fill in the gaps. I don't take advantage of that. If I see it's getting late I'll look at my watch to make sure we aren't going too far past our time.1/2 hour does seem to go by very quickly.
I tend to be the same way when helping.Sometimes we don't take care of ourselves.She will need to be more careful of that if she ever has back to back lessons all day long.
I was concerned my $$ per song might be seen in a negative way. I'm not really counting how much it costs to learn every tune :) Much of that cost is up to me the student. I thought it might be interesting to ask what the cost was in terms of time and money to learn personally. It should get less expensive as time goes along.

You could look at the time it takes you to learn the music in terms of lessons and personal practice.This is probably the least expensive thing if you include everything that brings you to this point. How much does it cost a dentist to pull the first tooth?

For a pursuit or interest we enjoy that adds something to our life or that might enable us to give something into someone else's life it doesn't matter to me on that level.

People will usually make a way to do what they want/like to do.I have a lot of "irons in the fire" right now, but I'll always do my best to make a way to practice and take lessons :)

March 8, 2018, 9:55 AM · For beginners within the first two years, half an hour per week, plus solfeggio and piano course if possible.

Since the third year and later on, one hour per week.

For advanced courses and masterclass, once per month is enough, but each course should last for 75 to 90 mins, you need time to unpack what the teacher has taught.

March 8, 2018, 11:58 AM · For the early levels; 1/2 hour. The technical part of a lesson is usually 1/2 hour. Most of my lessons are 45 min. If the student is working on long repertoire, like major concertos, it can go to 1 hour. I don't do alternate weeks, it's too complicated and we loose continuity. At my local university the lessons are 1/2 hour, which is never enough time at the intermediate levels. Meanwhile, the vocal lessons there are also 1/2 hour, which is adequate; warm-up, technique, then one song, which is usually about 3 min. long.
Edited: March 10, 2018, 11:36 PM · Hmm... a couple of cues you mentioned are that you called your teacher a “girl” in your last post, that you think of her as a friend, that you spend up to 10 minutes into the lesson and at the end of the lesson doing “essential” socializing. That means you are only getting 10 minutes, or 20 minutes max of lesson time if you limit the before and after to 5 minutes each. 10 to 20 minutes is the amount of lesson time that two and three year olds get because of their limited attention spans.

This is not to meant to be critical. Have you thought of if you taking lessons to learn violin or to have a social companion while learning a small amount of violin?

My teachers usually expected me to have my violin out and tuned by the time my lesson started. If I had time to warm up before coming to the lesson, all the better. It was just expected.

Today, I just spent most 40 minutes with my 6 year old’s teacher, most of which was her going over what I should be covering with him in the next couple of weeks, as she will be out of town giving a recital. A bit of social conversation took place interspersed with the info but not more than a couple of minutes total. He had a very dense lesson, preparatory work for four (short) new pieces plus polishing his current, a bit of music theory, and exercises for technique.

A lot of progression is also how dedicated you are to practicing. Practicing daily for short periods of time is better than sporadically for long periods. I’m not a tiger mama. My kid practices daily most of the time and he gets breaks twice a week on lesson days and group lesson days. Actual practice time ranges from a half hour to hour, not counting procrastination which there is a lot of most days and can drag on for hours at this age. We aim for content, not time, and do our best to keep it fun which can be a challenge if we are rushed or he’s had a bad day at school. Great days he’s done in 30 minutes or less, some very bad days it runs three hours.

At my request, my parents once switched me to an excellent teacher who they could barely afford (yes, stretching it) 45 minutes a week. She wanted a hour a week with me but that was the most my parents could pay although both of them worked. You can bet we used every minute of the time and she taught me tons each week. We’d cover music theory (I was very weak at theory and reading music when I started with her), scales, etudes, one or two solo pieces, and usually multiple ensemble pieces in that time. She’d set me up for 3-5 hours of day, 7 days a week of practice, plus multiple ensembles for six days a week. There was no dilly dallying.

If you can’t afford an hour a week but could swing 45 minutes a week, I’d take that over an hour every two weeks. Eat out less, get a cheaper cell phone plan, or something?

You should be able to cover a lot of material in 45 minutes, if you put your mind to it.

March 10, 2018, 11:37 PM · Sorry that was so long
March 11, 2018, 1:53 PM · I have been on hourly lessons with my teacher for about six years now. I found them too long at first and would have preferred 45 minutes, but now I prefer the hour, though I now go fortnightly instead of weekly.

Longer than an hour would be too much for me.

March 12, 2018, 6:57 AM · Thank you all who commented
Jane you are correct in that I see my teacher as a girl. Large age gap there. I call 20 somethings kids sometimes.I also see her as a skilled player and a good teacher. My daughter is older than she is. I digress.
Just wait it will happen to you. One day you'll look at that 20 year old as a kid. lol. I should have called her a young woman or a young adult. Technically she is, but when you're 2 1/2 times older than someone you see them as still green, very green in terms of life in general. I believe we can still learn from anyone. She knows a lot and she probably knows a lot less than she thinks she knows;) I still have a lot to learn as well.
You don't know me. I do my best to consider everyone a friend.I'm making small talk with the check out girl, the waitress, the gas name it. I'm usually asking them about their day or something.
I don't need that 5 or ten minutes as a social thing really. I guess I should get right down to the lesson and save myself some time.Most of the talk is musically very helpful. That's me I guess.

Things will be changing for me soon I suspect since this teacher will get a job and move away. I might find myself commuting every other week again over an hour away for my other choice. A seasoned gifted violinist. The only reason I have this teacher is distance mainly and she is a bit less expensive.

March 12, 2018, 8:08 AM · I think I would struggle with a 30 minute lesson. That feels like a very short period of time to settle in and learn something. When I was having lessons, then I would have an hour lesson per month, but that was for traditional music, so a different style of playing. Much of the lessons focused on skills which are intrinsic to traditional music playing, like learning to play by ear, and learning to add ornaments to the core melody.

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