Tips on choosing a music teacher

Selecting the right instructor is essential to your success or your child’s success in music. Beyond professional qualifications, which you should expect from every teacher, here are a few important considerations:

  • How does the teacher strike you as a person?  Does he have a friendly demeanor, and a patient and encouraging outlook?  Is she someone you’re going to be comfortable with when you don’t “get it” the first time?  Does he or she exhibit high standards without being intimidating or unreasonable?
  • Does the teacher treat you or your child with respect?  Does the teacher ask about your musical experience and your goals?  Is the teacher happy to take a student who wants to play just for fun, in addition to students who want to become serious musicians?  If you or your child want to learn rock instead of (or in addition to) the classics, can the teacher do that?
  • What do others say about the teacher?  Every prospective teacher should be able to give you references from other students or parents.  How quickly are students learning?  Are they having fun?  Is the teacher on time and constantly engaged during lessons?  Are students learning to play expressively?  Are they learning music theory in addition to technical skills?
  • What are the teacher’s own musical interests?  When it comes to music, do you both “speak the same language”?
  • Does the teacher seem like a true professional – organized, responsive, able to answer your questions clearly and in detail?
  • It may sound silly, but – can the teacher actually play?  Don’t be afraid to ask to hear the teacher on the instrument you want to study!  (And…can the teacher play the music you want to learn – jazz, rock, classical?  With jazz and rock, does the teacher sound up-to-date?)
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