On Finding a Good Music Teacher
When selecting a music teacher, here are some things to consider. When interviewing a prospective teacher, here are things to probe for. Note that each question represents a matrix, so some teachers will have strengths in some areas and weaknesses in other. That's fine, as long as it all balances out.
- They say they went to music school, but actually are they specialists in the type of music you're trying to learn?
- Do they have real world experience, and if so, is it playing a style of music relevant to what you want to learn.
- Were they mentored? (Students of legendary players sometimes come with the secrets of those players!)
- If certified, do their certifications suggest they were trained to teach children or adults, or classical or Jazz?
- Do they have clear pedagogical philosophies, or a commitment to adult learning, or are they mainly children's teachers teaching adults on the side?
- During the trial lesson, do you feel as if they're putting effort into observing and assessing your playing?
- Do they offer feedback about your playing, or just show you cool stuff?
- Are the lessons catered to you as an individual, or are they purely text book centered? (Remember, you can always attain knowledge on your own. Competency and goal setting related to it often requires a more experienced ear.)
- Are they able to set clear goals for you? Do you leave the lesson with a clear sense of what to practice and how to follow up on things?
- What kind of balance are they offering between the different elements of music?
- Will the methods actually get you out and playing in the real world and with other musicians?
- Do they show any kind of scholarship as a teacher (in other words, special knowledge or philosophy about the style of music you're trying to learn.)
- Are they respectful to you as an adult learner? Be wary of musicians that don't have social skills. Keep in mind that student/teacher interactions are a type of relationship. Communication and trust are essential.
- Are they willing to push your limits and change your way of thinking.
- How committed are they to you as a human being? (In other words, to you feel that it is a person who will really want you to succeed and put some efforts into helping you reach a set of established goals.)
Eddie Landsberg, Ed.M
Creative Educational Consultant specializing in Jazz, Gospel, adult education and the arts.
Marlton, New Jersey