Updated: Nov 10, 2021
"Better than a thousand days of diligent study is one day with a great teacher." -Japanese proverb
Finally, you've made the decision to begin music lessons and are now ready to embark on the long (but rewarding) road ahead, filled with song and wonder!
After some research and maybe even recommendations from your friends, you've managed to shortlist a couple of potential music teachers. But, do you know what to lookout for when selecting a music teacher that is the right fit for you or your child?
Over the years of teaching music and working with music teachers, I've realised that there are a few key considerations that parents and students should look at when selecting their potential music teacher.
Here are 5 Crucial Questions to Ask When Choosing a Music Teacher in Johor Bahru:
1. What are their qualifications?
Does the potential music teacher possess any relevant qualifications in the field of music teaching? Commonly, most people take for granted that, a music teacher is adequately qualified if he or she possesses a Grade 8 Practical Certificate in the field of their respective music instruments. While this may may be assurance that they have achieved a higher degree of performance mastery with their respective music instruments, it does necessarily translate into their teaching abilities and classroom management skills. Music performance and music teaching are two very different crafts, requiring entirely different skill sets, both of which take time to hone. This is why, parents and students should look into the type of qualification the teacher possesses (eg. RSL Dip.Lv4 in Music Performance vs RSL Dip.Lv4 in Music Teaching. Note that, both sound similar but are entirely different qualifications aimed at different professions).
2. How experienced are they?
While a potential music teacher's qualifications may be important, nothing compares to hands-on field experience. This is especially true when it comes to teaching music, as no two music students are ever identical in character. Every student has their own unique learning style. Therefore, a skilled and experienced music teacher would know how to adapt and improvise lesson plans to suit the needs of their students or risk derailing the student's passion and interest in learning over time. Look into your potential music teacher's background and find out how how long they've been teaching. Do they have any experience with teaching young children? Have they conducted group lessons for school programmes? Have they conducted workshops? All these questions will further assure you if the potential music teacher is a right fit for you or your child.
3. Do they display effective Teacher - Student communication skills?
If it's possible, schedule a consultation phone call or trial lesson with the potential music teacher. Reflect on the following afterwards:
Does he/she communicate effectively in the language you speak? Language should not be a barrier as it plays a large role in lesson delivery.
Were their instructions and explanations simple enough for you to understand?
Did they ask you questions from time to time regarding your thoughts? (eg. "Are you doing ok?", "Am I going too fast for you?" etc. These questions ensures that the potential music teacher is getting to know your learning style and pace and that they are adapting to suit your learning needs.
Did they try to explain and visualize the learning outcomes in the short term? (i.e. "Next lesson, we will apply this C major scale in a song") Communicating expectations are important in creating a sense of direction with music lessons (see next point).
4. What are the Teacher's lesson overview or planned outline?
An experienced teacher should be able to draw out a short-term lesson overview/
outline for each of their students. This provides assurance and confidence that the potential music teacher has a clear understanding of how necessary lesson outcomes, realistic expectations, required learning materials, etc. all come together on a clearly defined timeline. However, be informed that drawing out an accurate lesson overview/outline may only be possible after a couple of lessons, where the teacher has spent more time with the student and also that, these overviews/outlines may be subject to change over time, flexing to the learner's response and needs. Although, most experienced music teachers should have a general template to begin with. Find the time to discuss this with your potential music teacher.
5. What's on their social media page? (optional)
This final point to lookout for may not be as crucial as the points discussed above
but could provide for some food-for-thought. Does the potential music teacher have an active social media page which he/she makes public? If the answer is Yes, you should have a look at their content and ask yourself, how this associates them with their professional image as a music teacher? Does the content they are putting out lean more towards performance (music covers, entertainment, etc.) or more towards education (tutorials, tips and sharing, etc.)? This should provide you with somewhat of an insight as to where their priorities are and how they wish to be viewed in the public eye. Generally, a music teacher would have a good balance between both styles of content and would often, try to highlight their student's learning milestones and achievements on their social media page as opposed to a music performer who would often strive to put out quality performance productions of themselves aimed solely at entertaining viewers. While some people may argue that music is music, you may want to reflect on how important this is to you, if at all. Would you like to learn with a teacher who is more focused on putting out learning and education content or a teacher who prioritizes performance and entertainment content?
These 5 crucial questions above may not necessarily have clear answers immediately upon meeting your potential music teacher for the first time. The answers to some of the questions may even require a few more lessons with the teacher in order to suffice. Take into consideration too, your budget and needs as some experienced teachers may charge a lot more than the standard music lesson fee!
It is recommended that you book a trial lesson with the potential music teacher and if it feels alright, enroll yourself or your child and check how you feel about them again in a couple of months. Effective learning and teaching requires a deep human connection, and these student-teacher relationships or bonds often take time to form.
All the best with your music learning journey!