Anyone who has the desire to teach private music lessons for
children may hang out their shingle
and advertise whether or not they have any training or experience. Since it is up
to parents to do some research when seeking out a teacher, I thought of several
pertinent questions which will be helpful in the process:
What is your professional history? Learn all you can about degrees, master
classes attended, performing experience, etc.
What is your experience teaching students the age of my child? Find out
how the teacher feels about working with children this age. Especially for young
children, does the teacher have the appropriate vocabulary, expectations and
spirit to really connect and stimulate the childís interest in making music.
Are parents allowed to observe the lessons? In my opinion, children under
the age of 12 benefit greatly from having one or both parents attend each lesson.
So much usually happens during a lesson that the student can forget important
points made during the lesson. Parents who have taken notes can gently remind
the student of those points later in the week during practice times.
What are the parentsí responsibilities concerning practice?
What is your cancellation policy? With today's busy schedules, it is important
to work with a teacher whose schedule will be compatible with your family's
schedule. An important part of private music study is the regular weekly meeting
of teacher and student. Some absences are unavoidable, because of illness, emergencies
or other commitments, and it is important to know how these will be handled.
Is there any flexibility on the part of the teacher to meet at a different time
during the week if a particular lesson time cannot work?
What are your goals with students like my child? Find out how these are
achieved. Listen for the words "fun" or "enjoyment" in the teacherís answer.
Does the child have any input into the pedagogical process? Is the teacher
willing to be flexible if a student really wants to learn a particular song?
Do your students ever perform in recital? Find out how often they may do
this, and whether it is mandatory for students to perform.
Do your students have the opportunity to perform for judged events such
as Federation Festival or Piano Guild? Music teachers whose students participate
in this type of activity have knowledge of the motivational incentives that
annual events like these add to the learning process. Because of the specific
goals required by these events, those teachers tend to be fairly organized because
their students need to be ready for higher levels of achievement each year.
These teachers also tend to be more integrated into the larger musical community
in their area, which is another healthy sign.
Do your students have the opportunity to play music with others their age?
This is especially helpful for guitar and piano students who are usually soloists
who miss many musical learning experiences that occur when playing music with
Would you be willing to meet with me and my child before starting lessons?
If you are still not quite sure of your choice by speaking over the phone, much
can be gained from even a short face-to-face meeting.
Learning the answers to these questions will definitely help you make a wiser decision
concerning this most important choice in your childís musical education.