How to find a Music Teacher
If you can, get teacher recommendations from others whose children who are taking music lessons. Find out what their teachers charge, how long and how often lessons are, and why they are happy with them. One parent may be happy with the teacher who is demanding and produces award-winning players; another may be happy with the low-key, unintimidating teacher who makes lessons and practice-time fun. What do you want? What will your child respond to?
If you can’t get recommendations from friends, a local store that sells musical instruments often will keep a list of area teachers; many even offer lessons through the store. You can also try contacting the music director at the local high school or the music department at the local college. They may know some music teachers in the area. Also, college students, and even some older high school students, may offer lessons. These should cost quite a bit less than lessons from a professional, but be aware that the instruction may also not be at a professional level. Try to get specific recommendations from a director or professor who has worked with the student if you take this route.
When interviewing a prospective teacher, find out the practical stuff: cost, length of lessons, availability of lesson time slots, her education and experience, and so on. But also ask some questions that will help you decide if the teacher’s philosophy and approach are right for your child. What method does he use, and why? What styles and types of music will your child be learning? What are the teacher’s expectations concerning how much time your child will practice each week and how fast she will progress? There are no right or wrong answers to these questions; what you are looking for is someone whose approach and expectations make sense to you and to your child.
If your child doesn’t seem to be responding well with a teacher, don’t be afraid to share your concerns. Be as specific as possible concerning what doesn’t seem to be working, and ask what can be done about it. The problem may be solved using a different method book, music that is more appealing to your child, or more guidance from you during practice time. Be sure you allow a reasonable amount of time to work through bumpy spots and allow for learning plateaus and personality phases that your child may be going through. In general, switching teachers will slow your child’s progress. But if your child seems to actively and specifically dislike the teacher, doesn’t seem to understand what or how to practice, feels unchallenged, or fears or dreads going to lessons, a different teacher may suit his needs or personality better. Don’t be afraid to try a different teacher if the first one you choose is truly not working out.
Schmidt-Jones, Catherine. A Parents’ Guide to Music Lessons. Connexions. 4 Mar. 2008 .