To learn and develop a comprehensive understanding in your music practice, finding the right teacher to help you hone your skills is essential. In additional to teaching theory, composition, and performance skills, teachers also communicate the importance of discipline and dedication and provide encouragement through the musical learning experience. Having a teacher you like is important, as the lesson experience can heavily influence your attitude towards your practice. Have you ever had a bad teacher, and as a result developed a dislike for the subject? That can happen with music as well- so be sure to take care in selecting a teacher that will help you or your student develop not only performance skills, but also a love and appreciation for the music that they play!
- What type of music do I want to learn?
- What kind of lesson structure best fits me?
- Do I want a teacher that places heavy focus on public performances?
- How much do I want to spend on lessons, and how often do I want them?
- How much time can I commit to practicing, and does this amount of time match up to the teacher’s expectations?
- What are my goals in learning this instrument?
Ask for referrals from friends and family- find out about their experiences, both good and bad. If you have a student in band, ask the band instructor for recommendations.
Decide whether private or group lessons are a better fit for you. Private lessons can be more costly; however the student receives the undivided attention of the instructor. Group lessons normally cost less and can add a fun social element to music lessons. It all depends on your personality and preference of teaching style!
Interview potential teachers. Ask about their lesson structure, costs and duration of lessons, techniques that they focus on, their learning objectives for students at each level, what music books they use, find out which instruments they specialize in, as well as the experience, certifications, and credentials they have.
Check out professional associations to find teacher recommendations. The Tennessee Music Teachers Association has a contact for each region of the state of Tennessee and the Music Teachers National Association (MTNA) has a search engine that helps you narrow down a teacher by state and instrument.
Attend recitals- you’ll get an idea of teachers’ style and will be able to see what age ranges and instrument types they work with.
Ask for a trial lesson before committing to a semester- sometimes a teacher may offer these for free or at a discounted rate.
Written by Laura Whitlock