“All music teachers are not created equal. The teacher closest to where you live, or the one who charges the least, is not necessarily the best choice. You want a teacher who will inspire you or your child, and nurture you as you grow artistically – someone whose style and values are appropriate for your personality and learning style.” – from Concert Pitch Piano Services “Finding the Right Piano Teacher”
I couldn’t agree more with this statement. A good piano teacher knows how to balance inspiration and fun with discipline and good practice habits…
To start, it’s good to be clear about what your and/or your child’s intentions are in learning music;
* Why do you/your child want to learn music?
* Are you a driven personality, built for competition?
* What kind of music do you like?
* Is this a fun activity, meant for enjoyment only?
* Are you simply exploring your child’s potential?
* Extrovert or Introvert personality?
* Are you looking for chances to perform and/or compete?
This is important because you need to know what to look for in a teacher…
It’s always great to ask around – word of mouth is your best friend, be you teacher or student! Shopping around to know what’s out there and for what price is beneficial too. Music people are usually well networked with each other and will probably have ideas on where to look. School music teachers, other parents, local music stores and the Internet are all good options.
Here are some different types of musical
* Private Music Studios – personal, simple and probably the most common
* Collective Music Studios – a group of teachers working out of one studio
* Large Music Schools – lots of instruments and extra curricular music activities – usually quite formal
* Teachers who come and teach in your home – convenient but can be costly
* Commercial Music Stores that also offer lessons – store takes a huge cut from the teacher but teacher quality is pretty good.
Here are some questions you could ask when interviewing a prospective teacher:
* What is your background in music?
* Education and years of experience?
* Do you specialize strictly in one method/genre, or are you versed in many music avenues?
* Where do you teach?
* Do you work in other areas of the music industry other than teaching, such as performances, bands, conducting, music agency, etc.(this can be good if you are looking for connections, but it also tells you that the teacher is very passionate about music as a career)
* What piano methods do you use? Why?
* What levels do you teach?
* What genre of music do you specialize in teaching? Jazz, classical, pop, contemporary etc..
* Do you teach improvisation?
* Do you get parents to be active participants in their child’s musical learning?
* Do you give students the opportunity to perform at recitals?
You don’t have to ask all the questions listed. Not all of the above factors are important to everyone. Some student don’t want to perform, and that’s okay. They are just an example of what you can take into consideration. You should plan ahead and come up with your own questions too, as each parent or student has their own needs/personatily to be tailored to.
Notice that I did not put down “How much do you charge?” as one of the questions to ask. Obviously, you will need to know how much a teacher charges, but it should be a question you ask last. A teacher who charges $15/hour is not necessarily better than a teacher who charges $100/hour. Likewise, a beginner piano student will not necessarily benefit more from a University professor than a new and inspired teacher.. Compatibility and personality is far more important! Too much discipline and strictness to begin with can result in kids dropping music before they’ve had a chance to really discover the possibilities. Fun and Inspiration First; then after a passion in ignited, more discipline etc. There are many teachers out there with diverse backgrounds that have many different approaches to benefit from!
Remember, music education is a long-term investment. A good piano teacher will inspire the student to create musically and enjoy playing piano, now and many years into the future… all while actually, scientifically making you smarter in life!