Finding the right teacher for you or your child is one of the most important factors in insuring a positive experience. It is wise to interview more than one teacher to assess their teaching philosophies, expectations and experience. Matching your personality with that of your teacher is a key ingredient for a successful music experience. A succesful teacher usually is a positive person, concerned with others and has chosen teaching as a career. You may be impressed with how well a teacher can play the piano, but that doesn't mean that they will be a good teacher. A good teacher is aware of the importance of instilling a 'love' of music throughout the child's curriculum.
How Do I Find the Right Teacher?
- Consult with parents who you know who have their children in piano lessons.
- Visit websites for local music teacher associations. Qualified teachers tend to be active members of music associations and have opportunities to enter their students in festivals, competitions and recitals.
- Ask for recommendations from music stores, schools or churches.
- Arrange to interview prospective teachers in person before making a commitment.
- Ask permission to attend a recital of the prospective teacher’s students.
- Choose a teacher who will inspire your child to want to learn.
How Do I Interview Perspective Teachers?
Teachers are willing and eager to explain their techniques and objectives. Here are some sample questions you may wish to ask during an interview:
- What is your professional and educational experience in music?
- What is your teaching experience? What age groups do you teach?
- How do you participate in ongoing professional development?
- Are you nationally certified by MTNA?
- Do you have a written studio policy? Will you review it with me?
- Do you regularly evaluate student progress?
- What instructional materials do you use?
- What kinds of music do you teach?
- What other elements are part of your teaching curriculum?
- Do you offer group lessons?
- Do you require students to perform in studio recitals during the year?
- Do you offer other performance opportunities for your students, such as festivals and competitions?
- Do you use technology in your studio such as computers, music instruction software or digital keyboards?
- How much practice time do you require each day?
- What do you expect of your students? Their parents?
What is the Parent’s Role?
Parental support in the learning process is vital. Whether or not you know anything about music, take time to listen to your child play, provide exclusive practice time on a quality instrument, and celebrate his or her continued accomplishments. This is one of the few opportunities where you can choose the right person who will be a great influence in your child's studies. Chemistry between the student and teacher is very important, so keep and eye out for a connection. Don't ever settle. Get the right teacher, especially if you are a beginner, becuase the beginning teacher can "make or break" a young pianist. Learning to play the piano takes years of study. It is a huge investment, both in time and financially.
How Important is MTNA Certification?
MTNA’s Professional Certification Program exists to improve the level of professionalism within the field of music teaching and helps the public readily identify competent music teachers in their communities. A Nationally Certified Teacher of Music (NCTM) has demonstrated competence in professional preparation, teaching practices, ethical business management and lifelong learning. An MTNA certified teacher is your best source to facilitate musical learning in an environment that encourages student confidence, independence, teamwork and high achievement. To date, more than 3,500 teachers across the United States have earned the NCTM designation.
A Final Thought
If the parent's first question to the teacher is "How much do you charge?" That tells the teacher that the parent's first consideration is the price and not what the teacher has to offer the child. Remember you get what you pay for.
Here is one phrase that will doom your child's musical career: "I'm going to let him do this as long as he's interested..." Do not give your child the idea that they can quit anytime. If a child says they don't want to go to school or do their homework or brush their teeth, are you going to give them that option to stop doing it? If the parent is making the choice to give their child a musical education, the parent has got to be the one to follow through.
(Source: MTNA tips on finding a teacher) MTNA (Music Teachers National Association) is an excellent resource for finding a teacher.