What’s a lesson with Kurt like?
In the words of John Lennon: “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” We are all busy. I have learned that my students have lots of other things going on in their lives, to include the music they receive from their respective band programs or musical groups. I am not the type of teacher that will hammer students with assignments then chastise them later if they are not practiced. If you need this approach, I can certainly provide this to you, but I am more of a coach.
Each lesson I strive to be first and foremost, fun, followed closely by being productive. A student may bring in a piece from their band that has some sticky spots. We will learn how to tackle challenging “licks.” I listen to the student play, and then offer suggestions on how to improve. I play with a student, too, to provide an example to follow and improve intonation and articulation. I will also play independently as an example, then offer the student the opportunity to respond. We will listen to examples by others… Just a couple things that might happen in a typical lesson.
Having said this, I am a stickler for music fundamentals. Here’s a partial list:
- How to practice. This is a big one, and it is divided into 3 equal time segments: long tones, scales and intervals, music pieces. I impress on the student the importance of covering all bases in the finite amount of time they have. 30 minutes or 3 hours. Cut the time into thirds.
- Long tones. I cannot stress long tones enough. Playing a woodwind instrument is a physical event. A player needs to work out to stay in shape, and long tones are the cardio. This is what takes the meek and makes them strong.
- Scales, arpeggios, intervals. In addition to improving cardio through long tones, we now work on speed and dexterity with the horn. Calisthenics for the mouth, pulmonary system and fingers, if you will. I teach a student how to be accurate at slow tempos, then push them faster as the neural pathways are trained. Every piece a student will play has these things in them. If you practice them outside the music, they are easier to play when you encounter them later. If a student practices these exercises enough, they will automatically flow from the horn whenever encountered. Jazz improvisation is also based on a solid understanding of these items. These musical elements are essential.
- Musical pieces. It is important to meet the student where they are at, then help them excel in their playing situations, whether it is alone, in a school band or a gigging group. We will definitely look at the existing music, and work through it to make it shine amongst their peer’s efforts and enhance personal satisfaction. I will also provide various pieces: a jazz standard, an exercise or etude, a sonata… whatever the next challenge may be. Lastly, but certainly not least, I ask the student what THEY want to play. Nothing garners enthusiasm more than if the student has a “buy in” with their music.
- The question I always ask my students is: “to what kind of music are you listening?” I get shrugs, mumbled admissions of hip hop, or whatever else they are listening to these days. If you are going to play any instrument, it is absolutely vital you listen to really good people playing it. You never know, you might even grow to enjoy this listening journey! How do you know what you are supposed to sound like if you don’t hear examples? I listen to music constantly. For both pleasure and business, which, thankfully, is both in this case. The next question I ask students is: “How do you listen to music?” CDs get me blank stares, so I send out YouTube links.
- Parent involvement. You’re busy. I’ll make this easy for you:
a. For practicing, tell them: “You want to get HOT?!?! You won’t get any better unless you wear it.”
b. For listening, listen with them. For peace of mind, I communicate through the parent. You will be getting all sorts of stuff to pass on. Please review it and talk about it when you share it.
c. I’ll fill you in on what they are working on and progress. It’s kind of fun to ask your child, “So, how’s that C Major Scale going? Can I hear it?” They will beam with pride to play for you. Soak it up. It’s a good thing.
d. TAKE THEM TO SEE LIVE MUSIC! You don’t have to spend an arm and a leg. There is so much good music around us, and I advise you to listen to all genres. I suggest checking out Westword’s music schedule. If I hear of good shows, or my shows, I will certainly pass them on. I also invite my students and parents to my music rehearsals. I think you will find them fascinating and fun.
Who can take lessons?
Anyone. From basic beginner to college bound students, young and old, serious and curious. Let’s play. In addition to saxophone, I teach other woodwinds: flute and clarinet.
How much does a lesson cost?
My place: $60/hr, $40/half hr.
Your place (Boulder County, CO and places close by. I am not driving to Lone Tree, unless you have a LOT of money!): $100/hr
Where are the lessons?
My place: I’ll let you know when we hook up, but it is on the east side of old town Lafayette, CO.
Your place: You tell me.
When are lessons?
Sunday is my traveling day for going to your place. Saturday I schedule lessons at my place. During the week, I start at 3:30 pm and continue to 8:00 pm and I may or may not have opportunity to travel. That depends on what’s booked. Contact me and I will let you know what’s available for a mutually beneficial time.
What are my policies?
WHAT TO BRING:
1. Bring your instrument, which should be well maintained with cleaning tools and cloths. I’ll teach you about horn hygiene. It is difficult and frustrating to play and progress on an instrument with leaks or mechanical problems, and/or smells like a sewer pipe.
2. All current music, preferably in a folder or binder. Organized materials make for a more efficient use of the lesson time.
3. A pencil for marking your music.
4. A notebook, practice-log or folder for assignments and lesson comments (we can discuss the best choice in your lesson).
Email and text are my preferred forms of communication and I check them regularly. I will always make my best effort to return your message within 24 hours. I will use this method to keep you updated with what’s going on in the lesson and provide additional materials. If you need to contact me immediately, or you are more comfortable contacting me via phone, please feel free to call/text my cell phone at 303-579-8635. Communication between student/parent and teacher is essential. If you find yourself frustrated with the material assigned to you during the week, feel free to contact me and we will find a solution!
24 hour advanced notice please! Yes, I will charge you for missing a lesson or doing a last minute thing, too much homework or coming back tired from recreating all day is included in this. This is my income, please respect this. I am a working musician. Sometimes I need to cancel and go play a gig. I will respect your time, too, and give you plenty of notice when this happens. Inclement weather, family emergencies are no brainers. Stay home.