How Do I Find the Right Teacher?
List of questions provided by MTNA.
You’ll want a teacher who will inspire and nurture a student’s musical growth and instill a lifelong love of music. When seeking a music teacher:
- Consult with friends, family and others who are acquainted with teachers in your community.
- Ask for recommendations from local music teacher organizations, music stores, schools or churches.
- Arrange to interview prospective teachers, in person if possible, before making a commitment.
- Ask permission to attend a recital of the prospective teacher’s students.
How do I Interview Prospective Teachers?
Teachers are willing and eager to explain their techniques and objectives. The following are types of questions to ask during the 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?
- 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 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, 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?
- Do you charge by lesson or for the month?
- Willis supplies a safe place for lessons in five convenient locations 7 days a week.
- Many teachers are available to choose from with schedules posted.
- Background checks are done on the Teachers that teach at Willis Music.
- We have a lesson coordinator to help with your lesson selection.
- Willis provides places for you and your child to perform.
Five tips for parents.
Different Ages/Different Stages
Parents are often concerned that they start and pursue their child’s music education in the most suitable way. Many have questions along this line, such as: Would my two-year old enjoy and learn from a pre-school music class? Is my five-year-old ready for small-group or private piano lessons? My 12-year old wants to quit piano lessons; what can I do to keep him interested? Am I too old to learn to play the guitar? An age-appropriate program is the key to these questions. At Willis Music we have a lesson coordinator Colleen Cranley that can help as well as our expert team at each store. We also post schedules of our teachers so that you can contact a teacher that you may feel will be a fit for your child.
Make practicing easier.
Practicing correctly can be hard work. Repetition is required and an understanding of the purpose and the goal of the practice is needed to keep it interesting. It is essential to developing musicianship, however, and the discipline gained in practicing music can be applied to any area–academics, sports, etc. The following guidelines will make practicing easier and may reduce some of the tension that can develop between the student and the parent who is “making” them practice.
- We recommend that the student practices from an outline, not on a timeline. If a student is told to practice for 20 to 30 minutes at a time, this can become a time-filling exercise, especially for younger students. At our studio, instructors give students a weekly practice that will keep the student focused on what they are playing, not just watching the clock.
- Students may practice to complete a certain number of repetitions, e.g. play this scale four times per day. The student focuses on accomplishing the task, not the time it takes to do so.
- Schedule practice time at a certain time each day (such as just before or after dinner, right after school, etc.), and practicing will become a part of the student’s routine. Students should be encouraged to write out questions or inspirations that arise during practice time to address to the instructor at the next lesson time.
- Encourage your student by praising their progress. Practice really can be hard work. If the student does well in practice, they should be commended, and maybe even rewarded. For the younger student, placing stickers and stars on their work is a great reward. If there is an occasional week where there has been less practice than hoped for, encourage your student to focus on what they can accomplish in the next week.
Insist on the Right Learning Experience for your student
Learning with a qualified instructor in professional teaching environment is central to your student’s progress. In a relatively short period of time each week (30-60 minutes), your student can progress on his/her musical studies without distractions in class.
The environment of a music teaching school gives you and your student many good options for learning. Classes for all ages, private lessons, and performance opportunities, such as regular recitals, give each student choices that are best suited for them. Our students and their families enjoy our diverse, low-pressure recitals and look forward to sharing their progress and abilities with friends and family. We observe a unique synergy created between students when they are motivated to practice and play for each other.
There are several high quality, widely-accepted method series designed by music professionals used for teaching that are advisable to use, especially in beginning and intermediate levels. These books are specialized for the student and their individual qualities, such as materials for an adult or five-year old beginner on piano. Another benefit of these materials is that if you ever move to another part of the country, your instruction method may be continued easily with another instructor.
Focus on Progress, Not Time
Whether in group or private lessons, regular instruction with an experienced, qualified instructor over a period of time will allow the student to develop a good set of musical skills. One of the most frequently asked questions we hear is, “how long does it take to learn to play?” There really is no accurate answer to this question, as it depends on many factors, such as prior experience in music training or on other instruments, how much productive practice time is applied to the lessons, etc. The focus one should have with regard to learning music and how to play is on progress, not the time it takes.
Make Music Relevant to Your Student’s Interests and Fun
While music fundamentals are very important and foundational to all musicianship, there comes a point in life when children often want and need to branch out from their basic training. They often want to explore music of various contemporary styles and expand their instrumentation choices. It is very common for a student to move from piano or acoustic guitar to an amplified instrument, such as electric guitar, bass, or keyboards. Allow your student to expand in ways that allow him or her to continue to learn, and be creative. Engaging activities sustain your student’s interest. Group playing and performing bring extra rewards to the efforts of young musicians.
Music lessons can help develop discipline, new learning styles, memory skills, creativity, confidence, appreciation, self-expression, and appreciation of excellence and the arts. All of these qualities will flourish quite naturally in a stimulating, fun environment. Regardless of how technically accomplished one becomes, it is still about “playing” music. Don’t put unrealistic expectations on yourself or your child. The journey of learning is part of the gift of music.