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Private Lessons - Finding the Right Teacher

There are as many styles of teaching as there are teachers.

There are as many styles of learning as there are students.

Finding a teacher with whom you or your child connects easily is a key component in successful musical studies. Many teachers will offer a trial lesson (often for free) in order to assess the compatibility between teacher and student. A good teacher should understand if you decide they are not the right person for you or your child.

Things to look for in a teacher:

- How much experience teaching does this person have? Sometimes beginning teachers are not the best teachers for beginning students (especially very young ones).

- Does this person perform regularly? A teacher who is keeping up their skills on their instrument will have a devotion to the instrument that someone who just teaches probably does not have.

- How many students does this teacher have? A teacher with a very busy schedule may not have much flexibility for rescheduling lessons. On the other hand, a teacher with a lot of students and a low turnover rate is probably doing something right.

- How well does this teacher's students perform? Ask to see video clips or observe a lesson with another student who is of a similar level and age as you or your child are.

- How much does the teacher charge for lessons? A teacher's rates should match their qualifications, experience and the appropriate rates for the geographical area. Also consider that a teacher who travels to you needs to charge more for travel time and expenses.

- How serious is the teacher about your commitment? If a teacher does not expect you to practice and enforce that you do, you will not learn much. A serious teacher could expect that you practice several hours a day.

- Does the teacher clearly outline his or her policies regarding absences and cancellation, commitment levels, recital participation, etc? A teacher should run a professional service with clear expectations in writing.

- Does the teacher offer regular, weekly lessons? Not having regularly scheduled weekly lessons sacrifices a great deal in progress! Lessons every other week or less often, or scheduling lessons one at a time is not a good plan and messes with expectations, retention of skills, perpetuity of bad habits and disrupts regular practice habits, especially in children.

Parents should sit in on their child's first lesson and observe the dynamic between the teacher and their child.

- Is the teacher giving positive reinforcements for good behavior?

- Is the teacher giving constructive criticism to correct mistakes?

- Is the teacher patient with the student about learning new skills?

- Does the teacher have a sufficient knowledge base about his or her instrument and music in general?

- Does the teacher stay on task and keep your child on task?

- Does the teacher listen to and address the child's and your concerns adequately?

- Do you and your child get along with the teacher?

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