Music Teachers - What to Look For?
In a mecca for educated and talented professionals like Cambridge, MA, finding a cheap option for lessons can become difficult – as someone who moved to New England recently I’ve noticed the high cost of living and inflation for every kind of service. This is fantastic for having access to a large array of options but if you’re looking for a cheap way to get started on an instrument, for example, the best way to find a great and cheap teacher is often an exercise in mind reading or trial and error.
For those of you searching for your first music teacher experience, I put together some of my observations from many years working with students, teachers, and my own learning struggles.
Here are some tips I've put together on how to narrow down the list:
1. Good references
First things first - testimonials and satisfied past students are a great indicator of a good teacher. Some younger teachers may not have many references but teachers that have been around a while should have a long and healthy backlog of successful students - if they don't that can be a flag that this teacher is hard to work with or doesn't achieve great results.
2. Currently a student or just graduated
While this may limit the experience of a potential teacher, there are many upsides as well not the least of which is price. A recent grad just starting to teach will be a lot cheaper than an experienced professional many years in the field. And more importantly, the younger the teacher the easier it will be for young students to connect and engage with their coursework.
3. Will commit to students by offering a risk free trial
This is a good indicator that this teacher is confident in their teaching abilities and personality that a student will want to come back for a second lesson. Teachers that don't offer some kind of risk-free assessment or trial should be experienced professionals with references you can see make this teacher a good fit for you.
4. Offers music theory and jazz improv studies in addition to classical performance practice
This is an important piece that I think many students or parents of students fail to explore early on in the teacher shopping stage - you should make sure that this teacher is offering a ranged curriculum. It would be a crying shame if you learned how to play an instrument without understanding the underlying logic and construction of the music you play or exploring styles other than classical sheet music based playing. Branch out and make sure that your teacher will provide a varied curriculum
5. Has a fun personality!
This is very important - you must be able to work closely with this person so make sure that they make learning fun!
Now that you have a better sense of what you can focus on when searching for the perfect teacher, I hope you are empowered to go forth and seek out musical enlightenment.
For parents of musicians wondering what music lessons will entail and how you can get your child prepared, check out my free Pre-Lesson Checklist below.