Ask the Teacher - Brian Lewis


For the Texas-based pedagogue, getting into students’ heads is the key to effective teaching

How do you structure lessons?

At the beginning of every semester I sit down with my students and we map out a course of action so that they know what repertoire they’ll be working on. I also give them a lot of help with their time management skills – how to divide up their time so that they’re getting everything done. We work out what they’re going to practise and for how many minutes. I tell them to buy a kitchen timer so that they can punch in the exact time that they need to be practising something. I also try hard to instil into students that eight minutes a day on something is much more valuable than one hour once a week.

How much practice do you advise your students to do?

Dorothy DeLay always suggested a five-hour practice day, with ten minutes off in each hour, and this is a really good guide. Practising more than this is not so productive – your body can keep going but your brain needs to be able to focus, and after five hours this gets tougher. Good practice is focused practice.

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