This is one of the most common questions I get from people. Parents are often looking for resources to help find a good music teacher for themselves or their children. While there are the usual suspects like Yelp!, Craigslist and flyers around town, are there any other resource to help find good music teachers?
Here in California you can utilize the MTAC (Music Teachers’ Association of California). You may have a similar organization in your state and which can be a great place to start looking for a teacher. While these resources can provide you with a list of names, how do you know if any of them are good?
There is an interesting dynamic when it comes to teachers and their ability to play. Not all great teachers are fine pianists, and not all great pianists are capable teachers. You might wonder, how someone who can’t play the piano very well could be a great teacher? In some cases the person might have been a better player in their youth and as they’ve aged, their skills have diminished due to physical limitations. There are also some instances where high level musicians have no idea how they do what they do and can’t provide valuable instruction.
Another option is attending student recitals of teachers you’re researching. The solidity of their performances can give you great insights into the quality of the teaching.
You can also ask people around you locally who play the piano, who they’ve studied with, and why they like their teacher.
Once you find a teacher and call them up, one of the most important questions you can ask them is, “Do you teach how to practice?”. Listen carefully to their response. If they say yes, ask them for a brief explanation of how they approach it. A concise, well thought out answer is a good sign that they offer high quality instruction.
Teaching is not just assigning material and correcting mistakes, teaching students how to practice their music on their own and what they should be doing on a daily basis will help take their playing to a whole new level. Once a week is nowhere close to enough time to learn the piano. Your teacher should be providing you with instruction on what to do when you are away from your teacher the other 6 days of the week. This is essential.
You may run across teachers who have an incredible collection of talented students who are all extremely gifted. However, just because they have a number of students who are very talented doesn’t necessarily mean they are great teachers. There are a lot of instances where very accomplished pianists attract great students because of their reputation or the status of the school where they teach. They may be valuable as coaches to foster the growth of already accomplished pianists as opposed to offering formative instruction on their instruments. There are a some instances where this is exactly what a student needs, but it might not be right for you.
The most important thing is to select a teacher who matches your expectations. For example, if you want to learn classical music, find a teacher who specializes in classical music. The age group of the teachers’ students is also something to be aware of. Not all teachers are good with children while others specialize in teaching children or even very young children. There are so many teachers out there and finding the right one can be a real challenge. But with a little research you can find someone who offers the right instruction for you.
If you have any questions about this topic or any others, please contact us at: Info@LivingPianos.com (949) 244-3729