What Teacher is Right for Me?
You can get great quality from a professor at a university and you will pay for it as well. These teachers have spent many years gaining their knowledge, and their institutions have considerable expenses to cover. If you wish your child to pursue the path of a concert pianist, this may well be the way to go. If not, it might be a little too much.
You may also get very affordable music lessons at a retail music store - or from a service that connects you to a teacher who will come to your home. These services are provided by internet search engine experts (not musicians) that take a percentage of a teacher’s pay. They connect potential students with teachers they’ve only met over the phone, because they live in a different part of the country! These lessons typically have very little structure. The teachers often don’t have degrees in music and there is no curriculum which systematically ensures measurable growth. There is no one available to support students or teachers - no quality control. Students in this situation often find that learning becomes “too hard” after a relatively short period of time. This is usually due to an imbalance in the information a student has been presented with, and a lack of a good environment for learning. So, although you may have saved money in the short term, there is good reason to think twice before making your decision.
Here are a few tips for a good music learning experience:
Seek a teacher who has a degree in music and is a member of a teachers’ association such as the North Shore Music Teachers Association or the National Piano Guild.
Look for a dedicated learning environment. Lessons given in your home are often ineffective because of many potential distractions (TV, pets, phones, siblings, etc.).
Use an approved piano method that contains a balanced curriculum presented in an orderly fashion. (FJH has a number of good methods with fun and interesting pieces.) In these methods, the theory and technical information are covering the same subject matter that pertains to the pieces the student is learning. Supplements of scales and chords in different keys should be added too.
Make sure there are organized recitals and occasional group master classes. Check to see if there are optional performance opportunities such as National Piano Guild Auditions, Achievement in Music and other community events.
Research the teacher or school’s reputation as well. It’s worth the extra effort to visit the studio and meet the teachers to see if you like them.
Most people are seeking to gain significant rewards without spending hours every day. Students can, in fact, learn best and most easily and through daily exposure to a balanced program - but it should be minutes, not hours. Practice can be done easily within 15-20 minutes time at the beginning. And, quite a bit can be accomplished in a daily half hour as the student progresses. This will insure that learning music will be fun and rewarding.