Here are my suggestions when looking for a great teacher for your child:
*The person should be gentle and kind! Too many times children are completely turned off to music at an early age because they had a bad experience due to a teacher. I remember one research study (that I read many years ago) that interviewed Concert Pianists. They all said that their first teacher was gentle and kind…not necessarily a great pianist, but definitely motivational!
*Look for someone that has a degree in Music Education, or is in the process of pursueing one. This person has chosen a career that focuses on teaching children. Performers can be great teachers as well of course…just make sure that they have a good history of working with children. In both cases, see if you can get a reference or two.
*Ask what method the teacher is using. Whatever the instrument, make sure that they are teaching the student how to read and write music. I’m aware that the Suzuki method is successful…and that is a different subject….because they do eventually teach reading and writing. Once someone can read music, they can read for life. They can then apply it to any instrument they choose throughout life. There are, of course many successful musicians that play by ear….but everyone of them that I’ve ever met wishes that they learned how to read.
*Sit in on the first and second lesson. If the teacher does not allow this, go elsewhere. My student’s parents know that they are welcome to stay at anytime. On a rare occassion some kids do better when their parent is not there…but that is something you should decide. Generally, the parents drop their kids off having seen how we work once or twice.
*Be aware that every studio or music store has it’s own policies. Most music stores charge by the month and you pay a set price per month. Private teachers set their own rules. Ask for a copy of their studio policies and rates.
*Trust your child’s judgement. Kid’s have an intuitive sense about adults…and they are almost always right! If your child is uncomfortable with someone….go elsewhere.
*Ask if they they hold public recitals.
*Ask what they do to motivate their students. Ask them if they have any motivational techniques besides just reminding them to practice.
*The best time to find a good teacher: Spring. The worst time: Fall
*Places to look for a teacher:
Local Music Stores
Friends and neighbors
*If the teacher you are interested in has a waiting list….ask to be put on it. If you find someone in the meantime it shouldn’t be a problem when they do call you. They will just continue down their list.