Forbes Music Student Help Center

What should I expect in the first lesson?

Every student is different; thus every first lesson—and each lesson thereafter—will be tailored to meet each students’ needs. Teachers use lesson time to focus on evaluating technique, discussing and working on repertoire, and focusing on performance style.


Technique work varies between instruments and styles. Generally, every student will begin by learning the basics of their instrument in order to make and support beautiful sounds. Some technique practice includes:

  • Assessing and defining goals and objectives.
  • Covering foundational concepts to support those goals (bars, beats, meter, posture, breathing, finger numbers, etc.)
  • Theory, strengthen fundamentals (notes, intervals, chords, etc)
  • Sight-reading
  • Learning to breathe properly for singing and wind instruments.
  • Finger positions for just about every instrument, and how to hold mallets/sticks for drums and percussion.
  • Correct posture and stance.
  • Word creation, including vowel placement, for singers. Many singers will study how to sing in multiple languages as well.
  • The creation of vibrato and when/how to use it.
  • Flexibility with scales and chromatics.


Musical repertoire is a group of songs or large pieces that a musician is always prepared to play. Many musicians base their repertoire in one or two specific genres and always have pieces ready to play. Teachers collaborate with students to build this knowledge bank. Having a good variety of pieces will prepare musicians for any occasion. Here repertoire building might look like:

  • Choosing repertoire: Music to start working on as well as pieces to aspire toward.
  • Using the Repertoire Tracker to add techniques, concepts, pieces as suggested by teacher or requested by student.

Performance Style

While not every student is looking to perform solo, it is important to learn how to communicate through music. Teachers help foster the emotional connection between the story of the music and the sounds being played. Students hone the stylistic nuances of their music so they can best connect with their audiences. Some performance work includes:

  • How to properly introduce yourself, and the piece you are playing.
  • Working with an accompanist, or with an ensemble.
  • Acting coaching for singers.
  • Building confidence to be in front of an audience.
  • Developing strategies to mitigate stage fright.
  • Learning how to follow a conductor, and listen to your fellow musicians when playing.