If you’re thinking about enrolling your child in music lessons, finding the right music teacher is essential. Think about it as an investment in your child’s future- not only will the right music teacher introduce your child to the world of music, but they’ll boost their self-confidence, stir their creativity, and maximize their enjoyment throughout the learning process. Even if you have no music background yourself, you can take the guesswork out of the selection process with this advice.
When seeking a music teacher, word-of-mouth recommendations can’t be beat. If a friend or family member has a child that takes music lessons, ask them about their experience. Ask for recommendations at local music stores, schools, or churches. In many cases, music stores offer private music classes for those who are interested. Once you narrow down the list, arrange to meet and interview the prospective music teacher in-person before making your final decision. If a recital or performance is in their near future, ask permission to attend so you can evaluate the skill-level and overall happiness of their students. At the recital, get to know the parents of the children performing- they’ll be able to provide an inside scoop into the teacher’s style, attitude, and abilities.
Prepare for an Interview
In the days leading up to the interview, it’s best to take some time to write questions down. During the interview, the music teacher will likely explain their techniques, objectives, educational merits, and work history. Ask about the age groups they teach, their teaching experience, how they’ll evaluate the progress of your child, and how much practice time they’ll schedule. When brainstorming questions, don’t be afraid to make it personal. If you’re a technology-heavy household, ask how the music teacher will incorporate technology in the classroom. If your child has a learning disability and you’re concerned about the teacher’s ability, ask if they’ve ever worked with a special needs child. The more you get to know the music teachers you interview, the easier it will be to pick the best one for your child.
Similar to purchasing a used car or installing new carpeting, you get what you pay for when it comes to music lessons. While a super-cheap music teacher may seem like a dream come true, they’ll likely be less experienced and credentialed. But, at the same time, a higher hourly rate doesn’t automatically mean the teacher is better. Compare the credentials, educational backgrounds, and rates of a handful of teachers and find the best one for you and your child. If you’re concerned about price, consider enrolling your child in music lessons outside of an academy or conservatory- in most cases, academies will charge above the market price just to give students a “brand name” education.
As with other professions, music teachers can become certified. A Nationally Certified Teacher of Music (NCTM) has demonstrated competence in professional preparation, teaching practices, ethical business management, and lifelong learning. A teacher who is certified by the Music Teachers National Association (MTNA) are a great choice, as they’ll facilitate music learning in an environment that encourages student confidence, independence, teamwork, and high achievement. To date, nearly 4,000 music teachers across the United States have earned distinction as an NCTM certified music teacher. Although certification isn’t essential for an individual to be considered as a ‘good’ music teacher, finding an MTNA certified music teacher is a great starting point, especially for those without access to personal recommendations.
When all’s said and done, always trust your gut instinct. Only you can evaluate if a music teacher’s vibe and teaching style will be a good match for your child. If a music teacher seems perfect on paper but seems too rigid or strict, consider removing him or her from your list of options and moving onto the next. Many music teachers have the same degrees from similar schools, but unless they can relate to your child they may as well be musically illiterate. Once you’ve narrowed down the list, take your child to meet the music teachers. If they prefer one over the other and you’re satisfied with either one, choose the one your child likes best- after all, they’re the ones that will be interacting with the teacher on a consistent basis.
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