Veteran music teacher Marie Harris, explains how to separate the best music teachers, from the rest.
A good music teacher is aware of the importance of instilling a ‘love’ of music throughout a child’s music curriculum. When seeking a music teacher:
•Consult with family & friends.
•Ask for recommendations from local music teacher organizations,
music stores, schools, churches.
•Online – a great place to start is at www.utahmta.org These are
teachers who are experienced and attend meetings to better their
education as well as their teaching abilities.
The Parent Role
•Interview potential teachers. Arrange a time to meet the teacher in
person before making a commitment. This is one of the few
opportunities where you can choose the person who will be a great
influence in your child’s studies. Choose your teacher carefully.
•Choose the teacher who will inspire your child to want to learn, and
to continue to play for the rest of his/her life.
•Parental support is vital. Learning a to play a music instrument
takes years of study. It is a huge investment, both in time and money.
•Parents need to know about the teacher’s expectations for his/her
•Supply a quality instrument that is in good condition.
Possible Things to Look for in a Good Teacher
• A friendly and fun personality. Do they love what they do?
•Important! Is there good chemistry between your child and teacher.
Is it a good fit?
•Will the teacher have the ability to motivate your child to want to
•Does it appear the teacher has a strong work ethic, but also friendly
and easy to talk to?
•Does the teacher run her studio in professional manner or will the
teacher be distracted by her young children? Answering phone calls,
a ringing door bell or making the family dinner?
•Does the teacher appear to be neat and organized?
•Is the teacher a good listener?
•Communication is the key! Just like any other relationship your
teacher needs to be able to communicate with you effectively. Ask
questions, and give suggestions.
What Questions to Ask a Prospective Teacher?
•What is your professional and educational experience in music?
•What is your teaching experience? What age groups do you teach?
Is it important for the teacher to be a concert pianist or hold music
degrees? Not necessarily. A parent may be impressed with a person’s playing ability but are they a teacher? Do they love teaching as much as they do performing? These are very important questions a parent can learn in an interview. Teaching is an art in itself.
How do you participate in ongoing professional development?
The Utah Music Teachers Association offers piano teachers and their
students outstanding opportunities for growth. The benefits for the
teacher are that they attend monthly meetings on how to improve their teaching, share ideas on how to improve their music studio, compare notes with other teachers and motivate each other. Through this organization you can also find teachers who are Nationally Certified Teachers of Music. I wouldn’t be the teacher I am with out being a part of such a great organization!
•Are you nationally certified by MTNA?
•Do you have a written studio policy?
•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
Recitals are very important for the student! It give them motivation to excel and work towards something. Look for a teacher who holds recitals often and makes a fun event out of them.
•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, digital keyboards?
•How much practice time do you require each day?
•What do you expect of your students? Their parents?
•Do you have a website where I may be able to find out more about
you and your studio?
•If the parents first question to the teacher is “How much do you
charge?” That tells the teacher that the parents first consideration
is the price and not what the teacher has to offer the child.
Remember you get what you pay for.
•Here’s 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.
Most normal kids want to quit at one time or another.
The disciplined one has to be the parent.
If the parent is making the choice to give their child a musical
education, the parent has got to follow through.
Marie Harris is a Nationally Certified Music Teacher and a member of the Utah Music Teacher’s Association. Visit her website at: www.mariespianostudio.com