This article is aimed at primarily adult beginners, ages 20 to 80. I hope it helps with one of the most important aspects of learning piano; finding the right teacher. Unfortunately most beginners stay to long with a acim teacher not knowing if he or she is right for them. Here are some things to think about. You might want to check out ‘Teacher Types’ article. Good Luck. And if you have questions regarding your teacher or the subject in general, you can post a reply or contact me.
Finding the right teacher is important at any level of learning. He/she can take you along the correct path, not only learning how to play, but learning how to learn on your own. Whether your teacher recommendations came from the local music store, referrals from the local college, or a friend, you are going to have to interview. You are interviewing candidates for a job position with certain qualities that will help you make a choice.
What Do I Ask The Potential Teacher?
Well, the obvious for starters. How long have you been teaching? What’s your background? Can you play the piano? (kidding) Try and get a feel for the person. I wouldn’t be concerned if he or she is teaching two or twenty years, or how many diplomas they may have. Your first step toward that final decision might be to remove any misconceptions of what makes a good teacher. (This should stir the soup) You could loose a diamond because of these misconceptions.
“A teacher is one who makes himself progressively unnecessary” ~Thomas Carruthers
A formal education, (a degree) is a prerequisite for a good teacher. Yes… and no. If I were a music student in high school or college planning a performance or teaching career, I would want someone who has gone through the process and could prepare me for what lay ahead. But, if I ‘m an adult beginner or intermediate student just wanting to learn to play my favorite songs, or improve my pop or jazz playing, the formal degrees are not necessary.
Argument For Misconception #1
Many folks would ask at this point if I would go to a doctor who did not have a formal education. Or if I would feel comfortable flying a commercial airliner with a pilot whose previous experience was a couple years of tree-topping in a rented Piper Cub. The answer of course is no. But I would gladly let a highly recommended, unschooled mechanic work on my car. The best one I ever had was a neighbor who fixed cars for a hobby. I would also gladly take foreign language or math instruction from a talented high school or college student.
Traits of a Good Teacher…
There are traits I’d like to see in a teacher before any concern of their credentials. If I get both, fine. What I want in a teacher does not come with a diploma. Let me explain… My ideal teacher, loves to teach. He/she is concerned with the students growth and progress,the student’s success becomes personal, and feels a personally fulfilled as the student accomplishes goal after goal. You will get a feel for this in a short time. My good teacher is patient and motivating, with good communication skills. Simply stated, the teacher cares. If you feel any of these traits are not present in your teacher, you might want to think about looking elsewhere.
Some of the best teachers I’ve had were ones where I found myself impatient to get to the lesson. I could have sat for hours with them. I loved learning from them. I’ve also had teachers where I watched the clock more than them. Get me outta here! (See Article:Teacher Types
A good teacher must be a great player. An emphatic not true. Of course, they should know their instruments. It’s motivating, exciting and fun when they can demonstrate what they teach but, do they have to be a Chopin, an Oscar Peterson, or a Billy Joel? Absolutely not. It’s just human nature to want to brag about your teacher. ‘”My teacher was a student of the great”…, “My teacher played with so-and-so” etc.
Look at some of the greatest sports coaches in history; many were just average players without any outstanding career accomplishments. But they knew the game – they knew how to teach – they knew how to motivate and encourage. They, were teachers! They brought out the best in their players. A music teacher should be like that coach, creating excitement and heightening your love of music through a method of teaching that moves you along.