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What Qualities Should I Look For in a Music Teacher?

This week we continue our series on 3 common questions we receive from parents at our music school. Last week we answered, “How to tell if my child is ready for music lessons?” This week we tackle, “What qualities should I look for in a music teacher?”

If you know your child is ready for music lessons, the next step is to find a music teacher that will nurture your child’s newfound interest.

What qualities should I look for in a music teacher?

Parents have a wide range of choices when it comes to music teachers. Here is a list of qualities that parents should focus on for their search for a music teacher.

Highly Qualified

All music teachers would describe themselves as qualified but to what extent are they qualified? It is similar to someone saying they are fluent in a language. You need to ask direct questions to assess if the music teacher has the technical proficiency to teach music.

A simple way to determine technical expertise is to find out if the teacher has a degree related to music. Another indication that the music teacher is technically proficient is if they have earned an ARCT or LRCM Diploma from the Royal Conservatory of Music, which is a globally recognized curriculum for music education. If you are after a music teacher who focuses on performance, look for someone with performance experience or has participated in, or judged, provincial or international music competitions.

Music education goes beyond reading music notation. It includes interpreting and bringing to life the composer’s intent for the piece. Music teachers introduce students to proper posture, music theory, musical expression, and more. If you want your child to develop musical fluency at the highest level, the music teacher must be a technical expert.

Teaching Experience

One can be a highly qualified musician and lack the skills necessary to teach. Many of us have sat in a lecture hall listening to a professor known to be brilliant in their field but lacking in teaching skills. In contrast, great music teachers know their subject matter AND their audience. This is reflected by how they explain complex ideas using simple language and concepts to young students.

Experienced music teachers know that children progress differently. There is no “one-size-fits-all” lesson plan. Music teachers need to make adjustments to their lessons once they identify problems and assign practice homework targeted to each student. A seasoned music teacher sets goals with realistic timelines, ensuring that students aren’t held against unrealistic expectations.

As teaching experience grows, music teachers develop the tools to motivate and encourage students, especially when students feel like they are dealing with a particularly difficult piece. With more teaching experience, there is a greater chance that the music teacher has dealt with similar challenges and coached students through these obstacles.

Strong Communicator

Music lessons for children involve three parties: the music student, music teacher, and the parent. Earlier we touched on teachers being able to convey ideas in a student-friendly manner. It is also important for the music teacher to keep the parent updated with verbal progress reports, goal-setting, and weekly practice assignments. If you are interviewing music teachers, ask them if they do follow-up with parents, and if the answer is “yes”, ask how frequently they follow-up and what kind of information is communicated.

We believe that parents should focus on strong qualifications, teaching experience, and solid communication skills when looking for a music teacher. From there, parents can narrow their choices by teaching style and temperament. With a bit of research, we are positive you will find a great music teacher to guide your child’s music education.

Next week, we will answer the question, “How to set a practice schedule that works?”


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