Saxophone Teachers: Working With Younger Students

If you are teaching saxophone to beginners, you will most likely have a large contingent of school-age children wanting to make their first foray with the instrument. It is important that you tailor your saxophone lessons to their wants and needs rather than just sticking with the lesson structure that you use with adult beginners. Children need more specialized attention and, occasionally, take a little more effort to teach effectively. Let’s have a look at some of the things you will need to watch out for when teaching younger students…

Keeping attention

Many teachers of young children, whether Music or Math teachers, will tell you that keeping their students’ attention is the hardest part of their job. When you are teaching the saxophone for an hour, you will need lots of tips and tricks to keep your student interested and motivated for the full lesson.

Attention-holding tips:

• Rewards – children respond well to rewards for good work and effort. The reward could be anything – a sweet at the end of the lesson, perhaps, or a chance to play their favorite song. Be sure to tailor the reward to the wants of the child.
• Mix it up – younger students will get bored quickly if their saxophone lessons are too monotonous. Ensure that any drilling of skills are done in small 5 minute segments and remember to move on quickly if they are struggling – avoid frustration at all costs!
• Student investment – give your student some responsibility over the structure of the lesson so they feel like they have a hand in the lesson and aren’t simply just turning up because their parents want them to. It’s a good idea to start every lesson asking them want they want to do today and structuring your lesson accordingly so there is a good mix of what they need to do and what they want to do.
• Be kind – this should be obvious but take care to be sensitive to your younger students as they are so impressionable at their young age. Some of them will doubtless only be taking lessons because their parents want them to so. It is important that you don’t chastise them if they are struggling with any new skills. Make your lessons a ‘safe place’ for them to make mistakes and learn from them.

Set targets

It is a well known phenomenon that children respond well to target setting. This could be on a micro or a macro scale – perhaps you’ve targeted to help them pass a grade exam in 6 months or maybe you want them to conquer an arpeggio by next week’s lesson. It’s beneficial and motivating for anyone, regardless of age, to see improvement in their playing and children are no different. If they fail to meet their target, remember to use constructive criticism and lots of encouragement so they don’t lose heart and stop their lessons.

As saxophone teachers, it is incredibly important that you tailor your lessons appropriately for your younger students. Keep them motivated by setting achievable targets and rewarding them accordingly. Holding children’s attention can be difficult but it’s a great feeling when you manage it!

Focus on your goals

Children easily absorb knowledge, especially when you pique their interest. Having different daily goals and plans should be a staple in saxophone lessons. Be sure you create an environment that is fun, wholesome and entertaining for the small ones. Do not let their playfulness distract you from those goals, otherwise, you may not accomplish much in accordance with your timetable. It would be wise to have a timer for ever activity that would sound a reminder to the kids of the time that you have to follow every day.