Ms. Crotchet calls time on tutti

Group vs. individual music lessons?

Kudos to colleagues who teach mixed groups of instruments, standards and ages as their norm. I know some who battle groups of 30 Bb/Eb clarinet and sax beginners. They’re braver than me!

So I’m blessed…

That last week, in a group of three, some Year 4 clarinet beginners managed a few opening notes of Pink Panther in their third lesson. I was as surprised as they were. With help from parents who play a little clarinet, they managed the first phrase next lesson. Are they practising? Heaps!

But I am OVER mismatched groups!

I sent an email to parents last year:Ruth + Student_6921

“Dear parents,

To best realise your child’s potential and optimise your investment, consider:

GROUP LESSONS – Pro and Con:

  • Group suits family budgets.
  • They nibble a teensy taste of music.
  • It’s sociable – if players are well matched and compatible.
  • BUT age, instruments and standards often vary.
  • Little scope for timetable changes, or adjustment.
  • 2 students in 30’ group = 15’ each.
  • 3 students in 30’ group = 10’ each. Pieces chosen for the group pace.
  • Time goes on aspects where Matt struggles but Jake plays easily.
  • Fingers twiddle while Mr. Quaver fixes a student’s bent key.
  • If a student misses a lesson that others attend, there’s no scope for make-up.
  • Exams aren’t feasible for groups with little time to cover all aspects. Ms. Crotchet talks staccato sfz, marcato, V between brows.
  • Presto to hear what students practised and give new pieces.
  • If no time to play all they prepared, why practice next week? They lose interest.

Practice dwindles > performance nervespractice

They need Ruth’s books (check the half-price deals and class sets).

Capable students stop lessons if frustrated, wasting talent and parents’ investment.


  • Negotiate timetable for premium times in break/before class.
  • Make-up lessons if 24 hours’ notice of illness or tests.
  • With teacher’s undivided attention, students move at their own, faster pace.
  • Ms. Dolce chooses pieces and styles they like, is enthusiastic, relaxed and fun.
  • Exams and competitions are well prepared, so high results are likely.
  • Students set and meet goals, enjoy challenges, realise potential and SHINE IN PERFORMANCE!”


Andante con momentum

It was a risk. But this year, Mrs Dolce’s schedule is full, her days long, but she emerges grazioso!

Tips to ace exams & auditions

Recitals may seem confronting, but the presence of a live audience usually buoys us along. Subconsciously, even consciously, we respond to the interest and empathy from our listeners that may spur us on to play at even higher levels. But what of exams? And auditions for musicians and actors?


An audition or exam is often in a small room, where scribbling of comments seems painfully obvious. In our highly sensitised state, we often assume they’re writing “Mistake in bar 5” when they may be praising our great projection or fluent finger work!

Or a panel?

Auditions – the equivalent of a job interview – are a trial for both the musicians undergoing them and for the audition panel. Unfortunately, no better method has been found to assess talent, except occasionally a trial period, if a player’s background and reputation warrants. An audition can only artificially duplicate the atmosphere of a concert, as the specialised listeners are there solely to judge rather than to be entertained. But if they can be entertained in the process, so much the better; they are only human after all!

Who hears us?

On the one hand, the performer is keyed up and nervous, hoping to meet the highest standard on the day. On the other hand, the panel usually consists of hardened professionals who have heard it all before and hope that this one will be worth listening to when so many are not!

How to impress

Panellists do want to hear a good performance, one that will make them sit up and listen. They don’t want to be bored and embarrassed by your work. To the extent that you can hold their attention, you’ve got a chance of getting the job! They seek the best talent that they can engage and they are not concerned with your ego or belief that you should be the successful appointee. They will probably not be aware of the standard you are capable of reaching, though if their intuition suggests you could do better, they may ask you to repeat a passage or to try again at a later date.”

Keep trying

For eight months, Bette Midler auditioned for the same Broadway show, Fiddler on the Roof, every time there was a vacancy. Eventually she got a temporary place in the chorus, which gave her the advantage of knowing the production inside out when she auditioned for a star role successfully. From then, the sky was her limit.

Excerpt from Confident Music Performance 

         With solid preparation, positive attitude and a clear head, you can impress!