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Dear all

This is my first post as I am new to the playing the saxophone.

What I'd like to know is what should I look for in a teacher? I have one but I'm not sure about the methods used. The teacher is a bit hap-hazard and I feel I am not being taught in a logical way. I have a very limited ability to read music (only between the lines!) and after my 4th lesson I've been told to play a track that I like and try to play along with it. I've not got to grips with scales yet - shouldn't I be learning those first? I don't want to pay out a lot of money just to find that I'm not really progressing under his tutoring.

Any advice would be appreciated! :)
 

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I think the main thing is that you want a teacher that you can get along with, and can learn from. You won't necessarily know this with only a few lessons (unless it's REALLY right or REALLY wrong - then you might know immediately), but over time, if you're not satisfied with your progress, you need to take an honest look at why that is - is it you? your teacher? the combination? Just like any relationship, some teachers and students don't mix. Every teacher is different, and so is every student. Some people learn really well when it feels like they're just hanging out discussing music for the hour. Others need a more regimented lesson every week.

Personally, I think it often takes more than 4 lessons to decide whether you're being taught well or not, especially if this is your very first time taking music lessons. That being said, I haven't been there or seen your lessons - ultimately, you've got to go with your gut. If you don't feel like you're making progress, try out another teacher and see what happens. As long as you leave on good terms, it's not like you're permanently closing the door or anything - you can (almost) always go back if you realize the first teacher was good after all. But if you're not sure, give it another 4 lessons and see where you are at that point.

Oh, and you should seriously consider bringing this up with your teacher - again, just like in any relationship, communication is key!

That's my take anyway... hope that helps.

Oh, and for what it's worth, I don't think learning scales is a good first step. I wouldn't teach that way - scales are there to help you improve - to support and enhance your musical learning, but the whole point is to play music, so the earlier you're playing tunes, the better, in my opinion.

(PS - Welcome to SOTW. I'm new here myself, although not to the instrument.)
 

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Make it very clear to your teacher what your goals are. If you don't know what your goals are, that's a good place to start at your next lesson: work with your teacher to set some.

Once your teacher knows where you want to go, they can point you in the right direction easier. Don't let your teacher guess, or you'll get their opinion of where they think you want to go, which not the most efficient way to learn as they won't be exactly right.

Also, I agree that scales aren't the best place to start. They're very useful, but they're not always fun, and you'll likely get discouraged fast if you're not playing actual music for the first month or two until you nail all the scales.
 

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Forum Contributor 2016, Distinguished SOTW Member
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The question you need to ask yourself is " How should I think to be a great student?" Whatever your answer is that is what you need to be if you want to learn and excel.Is your teacher better than you? Have they been doing this for awhile? Does he teach you anything?...... My guess is that he probably can teach you a lot but only if you go into the lesson with an open mind and a humble attitude. If it's only the 4th lesson and your having doubts and questioning his advice your going to put a roadblock up in your mind and you probably won't learn much from him. The best advice is to become a great student. Learn! Ask questions! If your not sure of the direction or his reasoning ask him. Talk it out during the lesson. If you do that it has a chance of growing into a great formative relationship. You'll learn a lot about the teacher and what he's thinking by these conversations.
 

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At my age, and with my cheek, I'd probably ask "How will I know that you're a good teacher, for me?" :D
The answer you get might be very revealing!

I'd be interested to know how you teachers out would there answer such a question? .... Steve?

I didn't need to ask Don because his 'manner' and first few words reassured me that we'd get along...IIRC, they were to the effect "Don't expect or try to progress too fast!" (This had previously been my major learning problem!).

[FWIW, my 'killer question' for job interviews is "Why do YOU like working here?"...... my daughters have used it to very good effect :D ]
 

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Forum Contributor 2011, SOTW's pedantic pet rodent
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Sue991 said:
Dear all

This is my first post as I am new to the playing the saxophone.

What I'd like to know is what should I look for in a teacher? I have one but I'm not sure about the methods used. The teacher is a bit hap-hazard and I feel I am not being taught in a logical way. I have a very limited ability to read music (only between the lines!) and after my 4th lesson I've been told to play a track that I like and try to play along with it. I've not got to grips with scales yet - shouldn't I be learning those first? I don't want to pay out a lot of money just to find that I'm not really progressing under his tutoring.

Any advice would be appreciated! :)
Hi. What to look for? Progress?Enjoyment? That nice warm fuzzy feeling? I agree with the comments above and especially with those that say that teaching/learning is a two way street. If you feel "playing along" is too hard and you'd like to learn some scales, just expain that to your teacher. A good teacher won't take it as an insult if you just say (nicely!). "I'm finding this a bit 'in at the deep end'!" It does sound a bit to me like you and your teacher could perhaps discuss things a little more so he's aware of your goals and you're aware of his methodology. Good luck!
 

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Come with questions and discoveries...provide your teacher with opportunities to teach. I definitely teach best to my students that show interest. Sure, a teacher should help to generate interest, but the student needs to demonstrate a desire to learn. Try your very best to follow your teacher's suggestions, if after a few months, this isn't making you better, then look for a new teacher. On the scales issue, this largely depends on what style you are trying to learn. In classical, they are important, but I wouldn't call them the starting point. If you're trying to learn jazz though, starting with scales seems very logical. On the point of them being boring; I understand your frustration. Try to make them fun though. Speed, intervals, rhythmic patterns...anything to mix it up. I used to hate scales, but now, if I have only 30 minutes to practice...I'm running scales. Ask your teacher how to make scales fun.
 
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