Mentoring Monday: Relationship with Lesson Professor

Relationship with Lesson Professor
Paul Sharp, School of Music Mentor

• Be yourself. The most important thing when it comes to maintaining a relationship with your lesson professor is that you have to be yourself. Don’t give them some kind of fake representation of who you are. They will teach you to the best of their abilities no matter who you are so just be open with them.

• Be Honest. Always be honest with your lesson professor. For example, if they ask you how much you practice a week, be honest. If you’re too embarrassed to tell them the actual amount, then you should use that as motivation to practice more the next week.

• It’s okay to say you don’t understand. If your professor is explaining a concept to you and you don’t know what they’re trying to say, tell them. You don’t have to be embarrassed by not knowing. Your professor will actually be glad that you asked for clarification. It will help show that you’re serious about your lessons. Just remember to try and be as specific as possible when talking about what you don’t understand.

• Maintain a positive relationship with your lesson professor while you are in school. It is important for you and your professor to get along while you are in school. The extent of that relationship is up to you. If you want to be their best friend, that’s fine. If you want to just keep things more professional and business oriented, that’s fine too. Just know that it’s important for the two of you to be on the same page.

• Maintain a positive relationship with your lesson professor when you are out of school. Your lesson professor is one of your biggest advocates in terms of your musical ability. Their opinion could be very valuable when applying to a job or grad school. Make sure that when you leave West Chester, you leave them with a positive opinion of you, (things like you’re respectful, hard worker, kind, etc.).

• Your Lesson Professor as your advisor. Many of you will have your lesson professor as your advisor. This is a wonderful opportunity that we get here in Swope. Your lesson professor is one the faculty that knows you the best, making this a great bonus. Don’t feel like you can only talk to them about school-related things. They are there for you to talk to about any of your problems while you’re at school.

• Get to know the other related lesson professors to your instrument. It is important that you get to know more than one professor during your time at West Chester. They will be able to help you network once you are out of school, which could help you in getting a job or finding the right grad school. If you’re a student whose instrument has many teachers (voice, percussion, and piano), then get to know all professors for that instrument. If you’re a student whose instrument only has one professor, (brass and woodwind instruments), then get to know professors that teach in the same family as yours. You want as many people in your corner once you graduate, so make sure to make contacts with as many lesson professors as you can.

• Know that they’re trying to help you. No matter what we do, all of us feel like at some point that our professor is pushing us too hard, or doesn’t think we’re doing well enough, or seems to criticize too much. Know that they are only doing what they are because they care about you and want you to be the best that you can be. Try to take their criticism in a constructive manner.

I hope you all found this list to be helpful. If you have a question about your lesson professor that isn’t on this list, please ask your mentor or myself, and we will be glad to help.

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