Your child wants to start playing the piano and you are excited get them started! But you are also overwhelmed because you want to select the right teacher and have been bombarded with conflicting advice from other parents, educators and musicians. With so many opinions, how will you even begin to select a teacher?
Here are 5 things to consider before you make your decision:
1. Music teaching is an unregulated industry.
We hear the word unregulated and we naturally freak out a bit, but in this case, it is mainly a GOOD thing. It simply permits music teachers to adapt their teaching style to provide the best instruction for their students. Many teachers form alliances, are certified in specific methodologies, and teach for music schools or universities, while others hone their skills in unconventional ways, like freelancing and building home studios.
But the flip side of teaching in an unregulated industry means not all teachers will provide the the same type and/or quality of music education to your kids. Knowing this before you hire an instructor will help you ask the right questions and ensure the person you choose is a good fit for you and your child.
2. The best method is the one that works.
There’s an abundance of well-educated teachers, but don’t let anyone convince you their method of teaching is the only way. The best piano method is the one that works for what your child wants to learn to do! Teachers are influenced by many things, including their training and academic background, performance career, expertise in specific genres as well as the region of the country where they reside. Every teacher has something to offer, but your job is to find out if what they are offering is going to be is in line with your child’s needs.
3. Clarify your goals.
Not every piano teacher is well versed in every style of music. It is a rare gift to find a teacher with the versatility to understand multiple styles. So you have to start with the end in mind. What does your child want to accomplish (worship band, rock band, honky tonk, singer-songwriter, jazz)? It’s okay if you don’t have the answer to that question yet, but you’ll have to do some investigating.
For beginning students (ages 3-12), look for a teacher who can give your kids a SOLID music theory foundation that will take them wherever they want to go as their interests develop. This teacher will likely have a diverse musical background, and will feel comfortable with both classical and popular piano genres.
Students 13 and older are likely to have their own musical preferences and a strong opinion about what they want to learn. They’re not trying to be difficult. They’re simply prioritize their musical expression over repetitive drills or playing music that doesn’t interest them (even though those drills help them improve).
The goal is to keep your child interested and practicing, regardless of the method used. For optimal success, follow their lead and find a teacher who is willing to teach them what they want to know, and sneak in the foundational elements of music theory.
4. You get what you pay for.
Because it is an unregulated industry, the price of music lessons fluctuate greatly. Instead of only looking at the dollar amount per lesson, focus on the VALUE provided in the lessons. Your child can study with a less expensive teacher, but perhaps they could have learned the same material in half the time with a different teacher, whose rate is more expensive.
On the other hand, a teacher who charges a cheaper rate might be the best fit for your family. Perhaps they have less overhead and don’t need to charge the higher rate another teacher would to keep their business up and running. A cheaper rate doesn’t always mean they aren’t a good teacher. You just have to do your homework and find out.
You should consider spending more money on a music teacher during your child’s formative years (ages 3-10), because they can cover a lot of ground in a short amount of time.
Teachers who work well with children should be considered for their multi-faceted skill set. They are a great investment because they are able to play many roles (academic tutor, behavior specialist, psychologist, music teacher, etc.) due to the extensive training and education needed to do their job well.
5. Where do I find a good teacher?
There are a lot of great places you can find music teachers. Network with other parents. Check out your local music shops and the nearby colleges and universities. Or you could join the thousands who find a teacher online at websites like www.thumbtack.com.
If you ask vague questions, you’ll get vague answers. So be specific, know what you want and don’t be afraid to ask for what you need and you’ll find a great teacher for your child.