Finding a Great Music Teacher

Even as adults playing music, we can find ourselves searching for just the right music teacher. Whether you are looking to improve your current skills or wanting to add a new instrument, finding a quality instructor is important.

Teachers possess unique skill sets and a passion for teaching. They are able to bring out the best in their students. It is just as important that your teacher is inspiring you to improve along with being able to share their knowledge to get you to the level of playing you desire.

My current music teachers are both tough and gentle. They push me and also encourage me to improve. They leave room for me to make mistakes, and ask lots of questions while driving me forward to continually improve. I would not be where I am today with my music studies without their unwavering support.

Below I have shared with you some things that I have found help to narrow the search for just the right teacher.

1. Referrals. Be sure to ask people you trust for recommendations. Look for fellow musicians that have a level of skill you desire to reach and inquire about their instructors. You may also ask a potential new instructor for direct student referrals that you may speak with about their experience.

2. Education. Make sure they have a solid music background. They do not necessarily need to have a music degree, but they should have a strong understanding of music theory.

3. Experience. It is essential that the person you study with has professional experience both in teaching and working as a professional musician.

4. Location. Most people find it easier to stick to their studies if the instructor is located within a 30-minute drive.

5. Cost. Be sure that the price fits comfortably into your budget.

6. Relationship. It's best to study with someone that makes you feel comfortable and relaxed. If for any reason you do not connect with an instructor politely move on to someone else.

7. Compliment to Correction. There should be an even amount of compliment and correction given to motivate students. You should never feel berated or constantly corrected for errors. John Wooden, famous UCLA coach used the 50/50 rule in this way. He was known both for his coaching and ability to motivate his players.

8. Lesson plan. Make sure your instructor is listening to your music goals and creating lesson plans accordingly. You never want to find yourself in a “one size fits all” way of teaching.

9. Online instruction. Well that's for next week’s article.

I do hope that if you are currently searching for a great teacher that you find a perfect fit. Be sure to share with me here your own experiences locating and studying with your music teachers.

Until next time, remember to keep playing, practicing and most importantly have fun!

-Lisa Leitl - MU Columnist
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