How to Find a Qualified Music Teacher for Your Skillset
No matter the type of music or the instrument you want to learn to play, the single most important thing you can do to further your abilities is to find a qualified teacher. From singing to learning the guitar or piano, your instructor should be able to both train and inspire you to reach new levels. How do you find a great music teacher?
Understanding what makes a good teacher
First of all, it’s important to recognize what makes a good teacher and why. Each person’s needs are different, so make sure you are looking for the right teacher for YOU. Whether you are a beginner or intermediate musician, you truly want someone who knows their stuff so that you are gaining the correct knowledge and developing good habits.
Unfortunately, this is not a regulated arena, so the ultimate decision falls on you entirely. Anyone with a desire to earn a buck or two can hang a shingle as a music teacher. There are no requirements that they must have any formal education or experience. Yes, there are some very talented musicians who have never been formerly trained. It’s an unpredictable industry, to say the least.
That said; please note that what makes a fabulous musician does not necessarily translate into the ability to teach music. Music teachers are often much like sports coaches. How many incredible coaches take their teams to the championships, but have never actually played a game themselves? Coaching is a different gift than playing. So it is with music and teaching.
Finding a teacher
It might be tempting to ask the most talented musician you know to teach you everything they know, but it would better serve you to ask who taught them. Your best leads for a music teacher will come from your personal network. Your friends and fellow musicians will be honest with you, and generally steer you towards a good teacher.
Your neighborhood music store may also provide lessons in various instruments and genres. If not, they will be able to refer you to some decent teachers. Those that are most successful, meaning, they have dedicated students who progress quickly and enjoy their lessons, may have waiting lists.
If you get really desperate, you could search the internet for a local teacher. When finding one off of a website or community bulletin board, you will have to be very diligent in your background check.
Questions to ask
Before you hire a music teacher, do a little digging. Find out if they have any qualifications, such as education, musical background, or professional experience in the industry. Ask how long they have been teaching and what interested them in teaching others. Find out how many other students they have, and then ask for references. Call those references and ask about their experience with the teacher.
What you are looking for is someone who is both good at what they do, and who enjoys teaching. Conduct this just as you would a job interview for someone you want to hire. You will be forming a long-term relationship with your music teacher, so don’t feel that you’re being invasive. An experienced, qualified teacher has nothing to hide and will gladly provide you with testimonials.
If you are a more advanced musician, you will have many more connections, and finding a good mentor will be a little bit easier. Utilize your network to find a good teacher that is trusted by your friends.
Personality and Learning Style
The final consideration for any teacher/student relationship is to determine if you will like the person. If you don’t get a long, you simply won’t be able to learn effectively. Each person has a different learning style. Don’t feel that what works for your bubbly, artistic friend will work for you if you are more of a quiet, business-first type. Your teacher’s style should fit well with yours so that you’re on the same page. If there is any friction, you may have to back off and start looking for a new teacher. Meanwhile, you’ve lost time and momentum. It would be better to ask for a trial lesson first, and then make your final decision.
Finding a good music teacher is not as daunting as it may sound. Take your time and use your gut. There are many incredible teachers out there who love what they do and can help you develop your musical skills.
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