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#1021699 - 01/17/09 11:38 AM Decreasing lesson time?
saerra Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/28/07
Posts: 842
Loc: Atlanta, GA
Has anyone ever dropped down from 1 hour to 30 minute lessons?

I'm having some problems with my teacher right now, and (not related) am finding piano/composition is taking up all of my free time (so I'm not doing other things that I'd like to!).

I'd like to dump the composition work for now (my teacher has not been very structured or organized around teaching this, so I don't feel like I'd miss much here) - and use the extra money to save up for an acoustic piano, and the extra time to work on my writing and on finding a way to escape my evil cubicle job ;\)

I know 30 minutes isn't much for a lesson - but I'm wondering if it's enough to at least keep me connected to playing and working on stuff, without taking over my life (I'm assuming I'll prepare less pieces, since we won't cover as much in 30 minutes as an hour).

Thoughts? Good plan (assuming it's even permitted, I haven't asked yet) or big mistake?


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#1021700 - 01/17/09 11:50 AM Re: Decreasing lesson time?
Andromaque Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/29/08
Posts: 3886
Loc: New York
rather space your 1 hour lessons to occur at longer intervals. You would benefit more from his input if you had more time to discuss, and you can slow the rate of preparation to what suits you..

#1021701 - 01/17/09 12:14 PM Re: Decreasing lesson time?
packa Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/05/05
Posts: 1411
Loc: Dallas, TX
Originally posted by Andromaque:
rather space your 1 hour lessons to occur at longer intervals[/b]
I think I agree with this. I've never tried a 30-minute lesson, but I just don't think it would work for serious study. For the first few years of my lessons, I did one hour every other week (primarily because of my travel schedule). This allowed enough time to really get through some stuff during the lesson, but still gave me enough free days between lessons to prepare new work. Of course, it was fortunate that I had teachers who would accommodate this kind of schedule for an adult.

For the last couple of years, I have been able to change to 45-minute weekly lessons and I think that is just the right schedule for me. Some weeks I wish we had just a few more minutes during the lesson, but it has been generally fine. Since my travel schedule has changed, I now have enough time to prepare for a weekly lesson, but I certainly don't feel that my practice time has taken over all of my other interests yet.
Paul Buchanan
Estonia L168 #1718

#1021702 - 01/17/09 02:32 PM Re: Decreasing lesson time?
saerra Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/28/07
Posts: 842
Loc: Atlanta, GA
Thanks for the advice.

He teaches through a program, and they don't offer every-other-week spots... just 30 / 45 / 60 minutes per week.

I could go down to 45 minutes, but I don't know that would save me that much time or money.

It just fees like piano is taking over my life. I love it, but I know it's a hobby, not something I will ever do professionally. I don't want to give it up, because I do enjoy it! - but I'm very aware of... just feeling like I'm really not at all on the right path professionally, and having to hold down the day job, and keep up with piano, and the normal life stuff (house cleaning, exercising, etc.) - I'm not spending any time figuring out what I really want to be doing with my life and how to get there.

Does that make sense?

So I don't want to quit altogether, but there has to be a way to manage it better, so I can spend more time getting from miserable day job to fabulous dream job,

\:\) And of course, once I'm well established in fabulous dream job, the miserable day job goes away, more time becomes available, and I can do more hobby-piano.

I also think I should find a different teacher at this point, but... given I'm trying de-emphasize piano, I don't think it's a good time. I hate to introduce my goals to a new teacher as, "spend less time on piano!" :p

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#1021703 - 01/17/09 03:47 PM Re: Decreasing lesson time?
tickler Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/14/07
Posts: 398
Loc: Chicagoland
Until recently, I had 30 minute lessons once a week. Now I'm up to 45 minutes.

30 minute lessons do work, but figure that you won't cover/discuss all the pieces you're working on at each lesson. You might structure the lessons something like: at one lesson, cover A & B, then at the next lesson, cover C & D, and repeat.

Music should strike fire from the heart of man, and bring tears from the eyes of woman. -- Beethoven

#1021704 - 01/17/09 11:22 PM Re: Decreasing lesson time?
NancyM333 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/06/06
Posts: 1550
Loc: Roswell, Georgia
Saerra--How much time are you spending on piano? Do you really think it's too much, or are you so displeased with your current situation that you're beginning to question your interest or commitment to piano? I guess the definition of "too much" is different for everyone.

My teacher was happy with one hour every other week for me, and I bet any teacher you changed to would be satisfied with that. I don't blame you for being dissatisfied with lessons. Years ago I took from a very well-reputed jazz teacher in the area, and I learned a good bit. Unfortunately, every time I went to a lesson he would say, "Where were we at your last lesson?" It was clear he barely remembered what we had been working on, much less had prepared anything for my lesson. I lost confidence in him, and because of that, I was not as willing to put a lot of effort in the practice of the assignments he gave me. Your view of things matters a lot, so I think your instinct on changing teachers is a good one. You really do have to trust your teacher in order to invest your very precious time in what they ask of you.

It's funny that you mention piano taking over your life. I have a strict one-hour-per-day limit on myself; I could easily let it take over much more than that, and I don't have that luxury at this stage of my life. Piano is a wonderful avocation, but I have to keep it there. It would be very easy to double or triple my time at the piano, and I just can't do that at this point.

Good luck,


Estonia 168, Yamaha UX3

#1021705 - 01/18/09 01:57 AM Re: Decreasing lesson time?
Ken. Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/07/08
Posts: 298
I think 30 minutes is plenty, even though my lessons are 1 hour on my primary instrument. I record my lessons and have found I get much more material to work on as a result. In fact I could stop taking lessons and it would take years to go through the things that my jazz teacher has shown me.
Monk - Boo Boo's Birthday
Bach - Two Part Invention No.11

#1021706 - 01/18/09 12:30 PM Re: Decreasing lesson time?
FormerFF Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/26/08
Posts: 476
Loc: Roswell, GA, USA
I'm taking 30 minute lessons, and it's plenty for me. However, I'm still at the early elementary level, and my practice time is limited to about 45 minutes a day. If you're practicing 2 hours a day, I'd guess that you'd need that hour lesson, but if you cut it back to a hour a day, I bet you'd find that a 30 minute lesson is fine.
Piano self teaching on and off from 2002-2008. Took piano instruction from Nov 2008- Feb 2011. Took guitar instruction Feb 2011-Jul 2013. Can't play either. Living, breathing proof some people aren't cut out to make music.

#1021707 - 01/18/09 08:30 PM Re: Decreasing lesson time?
saerra Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/28/07
Posts: 842
Loc: Atlanta, GA
Thanks for all the feedback, lots to think about, thanks!

Nancy - your jazz guy sounds alot like my teacher, except he doesn't even ask where we were, he's not even THAT organized at this point. Usually it's, "so what do you want to do?" I've actually had him tell me things before break ("Forget scales!") - then not remember them after break, and not be able to figure out what he meant!!!

It is frustrating, because it feels like there's not alot of structure or direction, and as you said, like he really doesn't keep track of where I am week-to-week. I'm sure on some level he must, because with composition work he'll compare things I bring to past pieces I've written, but overall... I feel like I'm designing my own course... except I don't know enough to do that effectively!

I think I will end up leaving. Thanks, this has helped me figure that out. I'm just not sure I can do it right away... I know it sounds weird, but it feels like I really need to get an acoustic piano in the house before I can start talking to new teachers, and I'm not sure how soon that will happen (I'd like it to be sooner, of course!)

And what I meant about it taking over my life ;\) I can't really tell you how many hours a day I practice, because I don't have a set schedule, but it's definitely more than one (I once happened to notice - I spent about 45 minutes on the first 2-4 measures of a new piece... the time FLEW by too, it was weird!)

It's more like - I end up spending any/all free time at the piano. Which is actually great fun ;\) I'm not feeling chained to the piano or anything, I stay because it's fun... [except this week, I've sort of avoided practicing most of the week... for the first time since I've had lessons... bleh.]

But I worry that there ARE other things I want to accomplish with my life (ie escaping the cubicle!) and I'm not spending ANY time at all on those things - absolutely zilch.

If only I could find some way to get paid to practice ;\) - wouldn't that be awesome! \:\) \:\) \:\)


#1021708 - 01/19/09 10:55 PM Re: Decreasing lesson time?
NancyM333 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/06/06
Posts: 1550
Loc: Roswell, Georgia
Good luck, Saerra. I love the feeling of getting lost in practice, and I could (and do) spend a lot of time on the minutiae of individual measures and phrases. Unfortunately, I keep a timer by the piano and when it counts down from 60 minutes to zero, I'm done! Otherwise there would be no homework supervised, dinner cooked, classes taught, etc. I don't think you should feel bad about how much you practice unless you feel you're actively avoiding something you should be doing or dealing with. You should be able to spend your free time all on one activity or divided among twenty, whatever suits you!

I am very attached to my own teacher personally, so I can understand how hard it would be to leave. I know from your past posts that you also feel a connection and have had other issues, so I can understand how complex your dilemma is. Good luck on sorting it out and on finding an acoustic to suit your needs!


Estonia 168, Yamaha UX3

#1021709 - 01/20/09 10:19 PM Re: Decreasing lesson time?
saerra Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/28/07
Posts: 842
Loc: Atlanta, GA
Thanks Nancy (and to everyone else for your encouragement).

I had my lesson tonight, and really didn't want to go. As it turned out, we spent the first half of the lesson talking, and he actually apologized for how things went at the last lesson (which had upset me, and was a big part of why I was considering leaving).

We talked alot about what I'm doing, what I need to be doing, etc... and while it's probably not perfect, I feel that he really heard what I was saying and was willing to work with me. It was helpful.

So I'm staying, and have a whole new list of projects to start on. I'm sure he's not the perfect teacher, but I still feel that he knows SO much - if we can manage the communication thing, I think I can learn from him.

Nancy - I always feel like in just an hour, I can't get anything done! I'm not sure how you manage it... I may be a bit slow at learning pieces ;\) At any rate, I DO feel like I need to do a better time of managing my time, overall (not specifically re: piano) - because there's so much I WANT to do - and I can't figure out how to fit it all in.

It's frustrating, it seems there are never enough hours in the day!

Thanks everyone!

#1021710 - 01/21/09 12:10 AM Re: Decreasing lesson time?
signa Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/06/04
Posts: 8483
Loc: Ohio, USA
30 minute lesson is usually too short, unless you're extremely organized and prepared to squeeze a lot of pieces or questions for your teacher in 30 minutes. the best would be 1 hour lesson for every 2 weeks, this way, you'd have enough time to practice and prepare for next lesson.

when i started lessons, at first i did 1 hour every 2 weeks, but about 1 year ago, i switched to weekly lessons, as i sensed my teacher would be leaving soon (and he did eventually). but at the last few months i took lessons, i started to feel that i didn't have enough time to prepare and always came to lesson without sufficient practice and my teacher wasn't so happy with my playing as the result. but since he left, i felt more relaxed now without weekly lesson's presure anymore, and can concentrate on what i want to play or work on without trying too much just to play for my teacher at lessons. anyway, the point is that it's better to have 1 hour more efficient or quality time with your teacher rather than a rushed and unprepared lesson every week.

#1021711 - 01/21/09 07:02 AM Re: Decreasing lesson time?
joangolfing Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/06
Posts: 707
Loc: Iowa
I have a flexible relationship with my piano teacher and have hour lessons every 2 or 3 weeks. I love having an extended period of time to prepare pieces thoroughly between lessons. My teacher usually spends about an hour and 15 minutes with me.

#1021712 - 01/21/09 03:31 PM Re: Decreasing lesson time?
Matt H Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/26/07
Posts: 170
Loc: Indiana
Piano is taking over your life? I don't understand the problem.



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