Learning to play music can be fun for almost anybody of any age. Navigating learning an instrument without guidance is very, very difficult. Whilst there are many resources out there, videos and books can’t correct technique or answer obscure questions you might have. This is a short list of things to consider when finding the right teacher for you.
- Support: Always try to find someone friendly and supportive – The days of slapped wrists and rulers being used as ‘correctives’ are long gone. Learning music is supposed to be fun after all!
- Credentials: Someone with a good history of teaching – this is especially important to consider. Almost anybody can set themselves up as a teacher, but may not have any professional qualifications or real experience. Finding a ‘good’ teacher is key but experience is vital both in teaching and in the professional world. Also, make sure your prospective teacher will be able to cover all aspects of playing and theory. Some won’t teach their own weak spots!
- Match: Find a teacher that plays the correct instrument. Sometimes a teacher (be especially wary of university students taking private teaching) may be a flautist, for example, but will also offer early grades piano or singing lessons to supplement their income – Avoid this at all costs! You need to work with someone who is a specialist in the instrument you want to learn. Learning bad playing technique early on, from someone who doesn’t know what they are doing, will cause a lot of problems in the future.
- Price: ‘Shop around’, you may be able to find a better deal. Also, cheaper doesn’t necessarily mean worse and similarly, expensive doesn’t necessarily mean better. Don’t be afraid to ask plenty of questions about the teacher when you make contact with them. Some examples would be: how many people have they taught; exam results of pupils; their own musical education; etc.
- Boundaries: It is always good to know whether a teacher is willing to give lessons in their own home or come to yours. This allows for flexibility and changeable schedules. Keeping it friendly is great, although remember that teachers are people too! Keep a social/professional boundary, especially when ‘out of hours contact’ hasn’t been invited.
- Security: As a matter of safety we recommend you ask the teacher to provide an up to date DBS – disclosure and barring certificate. This certificate will show any convictions, misdemeanours and if the certificate holder is on any legally required lists.
As a student/parent:
- Try to be punctual and cancel lessons 24 hours in advance. This should also apply to the teacher. This keeps it fair for everyone.
- Make a payment agreement with the teacher and stick to it. This should cover when/how often payments are made, amount and type of payment.
- Students should provide their own copies of music and exam books as well as preparing to bring the right materials to lessons.
- Even though it can be tempting, don’t put yourself/child forward for exams without the teacher’s approval. The teacher will know when the student is ready to take an exam. Entering before could end in a failure. Undermining the teacher’s expertise is disrespectful.
- Last of all… Practice, Practice, Practice. Your teacher will know if you haven’t done it. At the end of the day practice is for your benefit and will make you a better musician.
Your local music store should be able to provide a list of contacts for you to explore. Google is also a really useful tool to investigate possible teachers in your area.
As always, if you have any queries, please get in touch!