Wether you are starting lessons with a new teacher, or are just having a single lesson with a professor at a conservatory, having a lesson with a new teacher can be intimidating. I frequently travel to have lessons with teachers from different schools, or have lessons with different teachers at summer music programs. Over the many first lessons I have experienced, I have realized what I did in some of my lessons that either helped or hurt my experience with the teacher.
A lot of your experience during the lesson obviously depends on the teacher and the way your way of learning corresponds to the teaching, but what you may not know is that some of the outcome is in your hands. Everything you do counts even from before you start to play. When you walk into the lesson, you should of course greet the teacher and try to make things less nerve wracking by saying how much you admire the teacher, or how grateful you are for a lesson. In most cases, the teacher reciprocates by asking you questions about yourself which loosens the atmosphere before you play. The most important thing wether the teacher is friendly to you or not, is that you don’t show weakness. When the teacher asks you what you would like to show them, you must have an answer ready. Do not allow the teacher to pick what they would like to hear. This gives the teacher the idea that they can have control over you and this can lead to a terrible lesson. Be ready to play the piece you suggest. The most important thing is to play like you are in a concert, so that means with musicality and technicality, just doing the best you can. You may not know if the teacher will have you play a few measures or the whole movement before stopping you, but be prepared for anything. The most important thing is to always have a strong response to any questioning and always defend your own view as well as that of your private teacher.
The other important thing in a lesson is knowing why you came. You may want to ask about a specific passage. If that is the case, don’t be afraid to ask, teachers love to get questions! If you don’t have a specific concern but just want to improve your overall performance, than you must be willing to change something in your playing or at least be willing to try a new way of doing something and see how you like it. Trying new things is the only way to find out how you really want to play the piece and this teacher might be able to give you a new view.
These are just a few tips on how to have a successful lesson with a new teacher. This is just what has worked for me and I hope these ideas will help with your first time lessons in future.