Finding the right music teacher for you/your child.

Blog update! (Sorry, poor, neglected blog)

So, I’ve had different versions of the same conversation in the past few months and I’ve been inspired to share this conversation with you: How to find a music teacher that’s the right fit for you.

I’ve had the good fortune of meeting a number of new students in the past little bit and some of them have come to me with previous experience from other teachers… and lots of questions. I typically also have a bunch of questions for students who come to me from someone else because I, a) want to get a good feel for what their background is (technical level..etc.), and b) am interested in how they felt about their previous musical experiences; were lessons enjoyable overall? Did they feel as though they were getting as much out of them as they’d hoped? Did they feel like their teacher’s style of instruction suited their learning style? Were lessons interesting and fun?

A number of these things have been floating around in my head from these chats with students, and from what I can draw on from my own experiences as a music teacher for the past few (many!) years, I’ve come up with a few helpful tips to consider when choosing the right music teacher for yourself or your child.

*Find Someone You Can Relate To.

Shop around. Meet a couple of different teachers (private, or as part of a studio/music school or establishment). Talk to them and get a good, general sense of how you’d get along with him/her. Do you get a good vibe from them? Are they easy to talk to, and seem to listen to you? This is pretty basic, but so often overlooked when people are signing up for lessons. Sometimes, at a school or studio, you may not even meet your teacher until the first lesson. Ask to speak to or meet the person that will be your instructor. It’s imperative that you feel like there’s potential to build a relationship, because it could last for many, many years to come!

*Short-Term.

What do you think lessons will be like when first starting out? Talk about some of your expectations and what you’d like to get started with right away. Ask questions about how your new teacher introduces their students to the instrument that you’d be learning and how the first few lessons usually go. This varies *greatly* from teacher to teacher, so you’ll get a good sense of what kind of teaching style will suit you best based on the answers you get.

*Long-Term.

Where do you hope your lessons will lead you (or your child) down the line? Do you have dreams about your little ones growing up to play piano concertos? If so, be prepared for more traditionally structured lessons with graded examinations and focus on scales and other technical work. It can still be a super fun and relaxed learning environment for your child, but certain realities will eventually set in that you should be aware of early on. Or, do you really want to be able to get your guitar/drum/vocal chops to play or sing along with your fave classic rock tunes? Ask about what kind of curriculum your teacher uses. How long are you expected to practice each day/week, and what kind of timeline are you look at in terms of progress? Everyone learns at their own pace, but your teacher should have some answers for you based on the info that you’ve given them so far. Overall, be realistic with both your questions and your expectations.

*Extra’s

– What kind of books (if any) does your teacher like to use? How much do they cost and approximately how long might it take you to get through your first book?

– Does your teacher use other materials? Can you include things like popular music into the lessons?

– What kind of missed lesson policy does your teacher (or music school) have in place?

– Cost comparing may be frustrating because of the differing nature of fees. There are many variables in lesson pricing: length of lesson, level (beginner, advanced), location (in studio vs. in home), private teachers vs. studio, and so on. I would strongly advise that you think about suitability over fees if possible. The most (or least) expensive lessons do not always = the best. Also, talk to your new teacher about payment — it’s always really appreciated when we’re asked how we accept payment and when they are made in a timely manner. Ask for receipts! Music lessons are tax deductible.

– Don’t have an instrument yet? Talk to your new teacher about what their suggestions may be in buying a new or used instrument. However, buying a piano/guitar/drum kit/violin/ukulele/cello…etc., is your endeavour and your intuition will lead you to the best instrument for you or your child.

Music lessons can be a pretty special life experience. Your music teacher should be someone you trust to teach you the way you want to learn. Someone you can get along with easily and look forward to seeing every week. Sounds like he/she might be a challenge to find? There are so many talented music teachers in this city, I don’t think you’ll have to look too hard!

Any other questions about finding the right music teacher or starting new lessons, email me!

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