The Most Expensive Music Lessons

If you’re not practicing, they’re all expensive!  OR I could say, It’s the lessons you never take.

On Practicing

Playing an instrument is a commitment of time and money.  If you’re not practicing correctly, it can be frustrating for everyone involved.  Learning an instrument is more than learning a lot of pieces.  There’s theory, technique and all the little details to making you sound great as well as teaching you how to eventually recognize and figure things out on your own!  This only happens with practice and study with a well trained and educated instructor.  It is possible to study with the hobbyist at first, but when you transfer to the expert you may feel as if you’re starting all over.

Weekly lessons should be a priority when learning an instrument.  Skipping lessons, well you’re just going to be left behind.  Not practicing?  It’s a waste.  I’ve been told “your standards are too high”.  Okay….I guess they are high, but NOT too high.  It’s where they need to be to make progress.  It’s tenacity that wins.

I feel so fortunate and thankful that I get to teach one-on-one with students.  How often does a teacher get to do this?  Lessons are individually aligned with students abilities and varies with each one, at the same time there’s a musical foundation that each student must learn.  A great musical foundation learned on piano transfers to other instruments.  Reading notes is the same, counting, phrasing and listening is the same.  You may chose an instrument that requires different technique in fingering, position or use of your breath, mouth as well as transposing to other keys.

Here’s the big mystery about practicing – please, please, please just find the time to do it!  Carefully created practice plans are laid out by your teachers.  Use them as they suggest, and I guarantee you’ll improve with time!

My very first teacher, Eliza McCabe, (I was 4 years old) told me that if I didn’t practice, she didn’t want to teach me.  I tried not practicing for 2 weeks and she calmly closed my books, handed them to me and sent me home.  I received a warning after the first week, then she followed through on her words.  Even at that age I got it!  I was so sad and disappointed in myself that I practiced after that!  My parents didn’t even have to tell me, and if I needed a reminder it was gentle.  I wish I could have studied with her longer!  She retired and lead a very full life teaching music and piano.  An exceptional mentor, even though I didn’t realize that at the time!  A Leader across the board in her time!  I’m so lucky!

Eliza McCabe


Here’s an excerpt from a study project about her:

Excerpt from the ‘Black Women Oral History Project’ 1977

Eliza McCabe (1886-1985)

Pages 76-77
“Eliza Champ McCabe was a music teacher in private and public schools in Louisiana, Texas, and Washington for 65 years.  Born in Louisiana and educated in Texas, she studied music at Wiley College.  As a soprano soloist touring with the college choir, Eliza Champ was known as “The Nightingale of Texas.”  She became head of the music department at Gilbert Academy in Baldwin, LA., for two years, before returning to Texas to teach in the public schools.  After the death of her husband, Lionel Vergil Gordon, in 1916, she went back to school to receive certification from the American Institute of Normal Methods at Northwestern University.  She implemented a music program of Black students in the Beaumont, Tex., schools; organized a music club for adults; held choral classes; directed the church choir; and taught piano to private students.  She established the Texas branch of the National Association of Negro Musicians and served as president for ten years.  When she married Louis McCabe and moved to Tacoma in 1933, she was refused a teaching position in the public schools because of her race.  She thereupon took positions with the WPA and as a practical nurse until her private piano classes were able to support her and her husband, who had become blind.  She has been a member of the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union since 1909, was president of the Washington State Association of Colored Women’s Clubs from 1943 to 1951, and also affiliated with AAUW, NAACP, and NACWC.”
I believe she graduated Salutatorian from Wiley College.  I read that awhile back and now cannot find that through Google research.  Here’s the link to the ‘Black Women Oral History Project’
No excuses!  Just do it!