It's no secret that high-school students are extraordinarily busy these days, with multiple activities filling up every spare minute. Many student musicians simply can't commit to a weekly lesson throughout the school year; their packed schedules won't allow it. Yet they would like to continue playing.
For those students, I provide the option of a five-day intensive — five one-hour lessons on consecutive days — usually during school vacation weeks or just before school starts in the fall. Think of it as an instrumental boot camp!
What do we accomplish in these five lessons? I begin by evaluating students' playing for any inaccuracies or bad habits, particularly if they have been playing without private instruction for some time. We fix things efficiently and quickly, with daily reinforcement of any changes that we are making. And the students leave with a plan of action — a practicing regime — for continuing the progress on their own.
TRUE CONFESSIONS: The idea for a five-day intensive came from the mother of one of those busy students. She wanted her daughter to take lessons, but there was no room in the girl's crowded schedule. Mom suggested a daily lesson for five days during a school vacation.
Initially, I wasn't sure how much progress we could make in that time, but the experience proved to be a complete success. We addressed a number of technical issues during the five lessons, as well as preparing an audition piece. After the last lesson, the student had made substantial progress, and she played the audition successfully. Even more important, she was able to maintain the changes that we made through the next several months when she didn't have time to take lessons.