What do students learn in private music lessons at Forte?

As music lessons at Forte are in a private one on one format, parents don’t often get the chance to fully understand what takes place in a private music lesson and the overall structure. The purpose of this blog post is to help provide a glimpse into what occurs in private music lessons and the general goals we are trying to achieve. We hope that by understanding the overall goals we are trying to achieve in a private music lesson, this will aid parents in supporting practice time at home.

One of our main teaching philosophies at Forte is that we structure each lesson to fit the individual student. We find that when we approach our lessons with a more flexible mindset, we can better cater to the learning needs and goals of each student. Because of this we do not have a printed lesson format as lessons vary so much from student to student based on ability level, musical goals, and how much they practice and apply the learning from their lessons.

Though no two lessons may look alike, we are always striving to cover the same foundation of musical skills, to ensure the educational outcome ends up being consistent for each of our students.

Some of the most important aspects we strive for in piano, singing and guitar lessons are:

  • Technical Elements including rhythmic accuracy, melodic accuracy.
  • Learning by ear or demonstration as well as by reading the music.
  • Elements of musical interpretation including dynamics (volume), tempo (speed), articulations (smooth, detached, etc).
  • Expression – to evoke the atmosphere or meaning of the piece. For singers this is also in terms of sound and facial/body expression.
  • Diction (for singers)- ensuring the text is clear and accurate – including singing in different languages.
  • Healthy vocal production in the Bel Canto style (for singers) – we aim to teach students a way of singing that will provide vocal longevity and avoid vocal injury. The voice is a muscle, so we continually train it over time to increase range and improve tone quality.
  • Context – we look at the meanings of song lyrics, historical/social context of the composer and/or piece, and any other factors that may impact the expression or performance of the piece.
  • Performance – we aim to prepare students for a performance twice each year (winter & spring recitals) however it is completely optional. We also offer other performance opportunities such as masterclasses and music festival preparation.

The general structure of our 30 minute private music lessons looks like this:

Private Music Lessons

To accomplish these musical foundations, we work through the above using a variety of warm ups, technique exercises and songs. We use shorter warm ups and scales to accomplish specific technical goals pertaining to their musical skill/grade level. We often equate these to doing warm-up laps or stretches at a sports practice. The benefit to isolating these technical skills in shorter exercises is it is much easier for our body and mind to decode the skill outside of a song, where there are often too many other things to think about. Muscle memory is a key component in learning a musical instrument, and it is much easier to work on this when the task is isolated into a smaller section.

We then can apply our newly learned technical skills in the songs we work on in our lessons. This often makes learning pieces much easier and more fun! It is also extremely rewarding when students learn that these foundational skills can be applied to many different genres and styles of music.

We hope this has provided you with a glimpse into what happens in a private music lessons at Forte and the overall goals we are trying to achieve for each student. Hopefully this can also help guide parents at home to understand what to listen for and ask about. We offer one on one private music lessons in singing, piano, and guitar. If you are interested in registering for lessons, please contact us here.