Choosing Your Child’s Piano Teacher: Six Questions to Ask
Piano lessons are an investment of both money and time. Finding the right piano teacher for your child will help your investment lead to successful music education. Asking the following questions will help you choose the right teacher.
Is the teacher a member of local, state, or national music organizations?
Membership in music organizations signals that a teacher is interested in staying current with trends in music education. Music Teachers National Association, National Association for Music Education, and the National Federation of Music Clubs, along with the state and local affiliates of these organizations, are some of the well-known groups in which a piano teacher might hold membership. Journals and newsletters typically accompany membership and bring relevant information right to the teacher’s door. Membership also gives the teacher access to continuing education opportunities, including conventions and seminars on music performance and education.
Does the teacher offer performance opportunities?
The point of piano lessons is to learn to play the instrument. A teacher should provide opportunities and encourage students to perform. Public performance is a regular occurrence, even for an amateur musician. Pianists may find themselves playing for religious services, accompanying choirs, playing in garage bands, or performing in other ways. Even if your child doesn’t intend to be a performer, making a piece of music ready for performance requires more perseverance and attention to detail than is needed for everyday lesson material. Performance preparation makes your child a better musician.
Does the teacher enter students in any contests, festivals, or other programs?
Entering students in contests, festivals, and programs is important for two reasons. First, it gives the students goals, recognition, input from professionals other than their primary teacher, and a reason to hone in on musical details. Second, it is an indicator that the teacher is aware of the elements needed for successful participation in these events. It is more likely that the students of this teacher are reaching accepted standards of learning and performance.
How does the teacher teach rhythm?
Rhythm is a basic element of music. It deals with the duration of the notes. Some teachers tend to teach rhythm by rote. They play songs for the students or sing the rhythm to them. Students are quick to remember how the music sounds, and they are able to play the music correctly and successfully. That works until a student is faced with an unfamiliar piece of music and asked to play it outside of regular piano lessons. Students need to learn a system of counting rhythms. They need to be able to decode the musical notes on their own. Music is a lifelong endeavor, and a teacher won’t always be available to assist with learning new music. Make sure the teacher you choose is preparing your child to be independent.
How much does the teacher charge?
The financial commitment required to enroll a child in piano lessons is often one of the first things parents want to know. Definitely find out how much a teacher charges, but be careful how you use that information. The teacher charging the most isn’t necessarily the best, and the teacher charging the least isn’t necessarily a good bargain. Use the other criteria to determine the qualifications of the teacher, and then decide if the tuition price is a good value for your family.
Does the child like the teacher?
This may be the most important factor: Does your child like the piano teacher? Liking a piano teacher does not just mean that the teacher is “nice.” It means that the child is motivated and the teacher finds ways to challenge them at just the right pace.
An excellent piano teacher has the experience to develop unique approaches for each student according to their abilities and interests.
I have worked as a performer and keyboardist for over 40 years now and also taught piano for 15 years. At my full teaching roster I had over 45 students. With that said, finding a teacher that inspires your child is, in my opinion, the absolute most important quality for you to find.
Additionally, an excellent teacher will also know when it is time to move a student on to another teacher so that the student can gain new experiences and skills.
Choosing a piano teacher has lifelong implications for your child. Make an informed decision, invest your time and money wisely, and enjoy the piano music in your home!