At the start of each school year, I have my university students fill out a questionnaire. This data provides direction as we strive to make the most productive use of our time. Below are the questions and my comments. Fill out the questionnaire for your own benefit and show it to your private teacher.
Q: As a trumpet player, my strengths and weaknesses are:
Comment: Consider tone, range, articulation, pitch and practice habits. Most people have an easy time identifying weaknesses (a common answer is “everything”) and a harder time admitting strengths. These are relative strengths and weaknesses, not an overall assessment of your abilities. Compare yourself to you, not Wynton Marsalis.
Q: As a jazz musician, my strengths and weaknesses are:
Comment: Consider vocabulary, time feel and the ability to convey emotion and stylistic range.
Q: Realistically, I see myself devoting, on average of X hours per day to personal practice time this year.
Comment: Track your practice sessions to see how accurate your predictions are.
Q: The most effective time of day for me to practice is: A) Morning B) Afternoon C) Evening
Comment: Try to schedule practice sessions during your prime time.
Q: Relative to my musical peers, I consider myself:
A) Behind B) Middle of the pack C) Ahead
Q: If you answered behind or ahead, what are possible reasons?
Comment: A very telling question. Most people rank themselves behind their peers.
Q: The teaching style that best motivates me to work hard is:
A) Positive reinforcement B) Tough coach
Q: My short-term goals for this year are:
Q: My long-term career goals are: (be specific)
Q: What other talents or interests do you have, particularly those that might offer additional opportunities for generating income?
Comment: Few musicians will make their living exclusively by playing, so think about other potential aspects of your career.
About the Author
Chase Sanborn is a jazz trumpet player based in Toronto. He is on the faculty at the University of Toronto and is the author of “Brass Tactics,” “Jazz Tactics,” “Tuning Tactics” and “Music Business Tactics.” Chase is a Yamaha Artist. Visit his website at www.chasesanborn.com. Questions about all things brass-related can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.