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[Video] Four (Hidden) Things To Look for in a Great Music Instructor

Leighann Hodgkins

February 15, 2018

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Are you on the lookout for a great music teacher? Or, are you wondering if your current teacher is the best fit? If so, you probably already know what you’re looking for, or at least you have a general idea. It’s someone who works with you in a fun and useful way, helps to keep you motivated, and who genuinely makes your lessons a growing experience.

While many students and parents know what kind of teacher they want in general, it is hard to pinpoint the specific things that make a teacher awesome.

Here are four things that are often overlooked, but can make a big difference:

1) They involve the parents.

Parent involvement is an absolute must, especially for younger students. Teachers are working with students once or twice a week, but parents are the ones who are monitoring daily practice. So it’s crucial for parents to be dialed in! A excellent instructor involves parents by providing them with the information they need, and they’re open to answering questions. Some teachers may be intimidated or unsure about how to communicate with parents, especially if they’re inexperienced. Even if it’s unintentional, this is when parents can start to feel left out. If this seems to be the case for you, ask your teacher to help you to become more involved. If your teacher resists, it’s probably to move on. If they welcome it, you know you're on the right track.

2) They discuss goals and expectations.

You have goals and expectations, and your teacher probably does as well, but how often are they discussed together? If you’re not on the same page, this can lead to frustration or disappointment. It’s best for everyone to talk together about what they want from the lessons. An exceptional instructor respects and prioritizes the goals of the parent and student, and they can articulate their hopes for the student at the same time.

3) They use a system to track lesson activities and assignments.

A week may not seem like a long time to an adult. But to a young child, it can feel like forever. It’s difficult for them to remember everything discussed in a lesson throughout the week. And, honestly, most adults are busy enough that it is easy for things to slip through the cracks for them as well. Your instructor can (and should) remedy this by sending home weekly notes. The notes can be brief, just including what was worked on in the lesson, guidelines, and assignments for next week. They can be in the student’s practice journal or by email… the important thing is to have a consistent system to review the notes from each lesson.

4) They create opportunities and encourage students to perform.

A great teacher believes in the value of performing live, and they’re proactive in finding times and places where their students can perform. From regular recitals and student showcases to offsite locations like retirement homes and community centers, a top-notch instructor makes performance a priority, if not required. Advanced students may be encouraged to do competitions.

Excellent music instructors involve the parents, set and discuss clear goals and expectations, use a system to track lesson activities and assignments, and create opportunities for students to perform. Keep these in mind when you’re looking for a teacher, or work with your current teacher to make these a part of your lesson experience. 

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