“Your teachers should have high expectations for you, and you for them.”
–The Musician’s Way, p. 295
Few things have larger impacts on musicians’ development than their choices of teachers.
How can aspiring performers single out teachers who will not only provide crucial training but also inspire them and unlock their potential?
Here are six basic strategies, adapted from Chapter 14 of The Musician’s Way.
1. Observe Teachers
Along with researching a teacher’s background and exploring online or print materials, sit in on lessons or classes and note whether a teacher is, among other things, compassionate, articulate, encouraging, and purposeful.
2. Attend Student Performances
Do a teacher’s students project self-assurance and expressiveness from the stage, or are they jittery and awkward?
3. Meet with Students
Ask current and past students whether they’re motivated and positively challenged by their teacher along with how well they’re prepared for professional-level roles.
4. Take Lessons
Sign up for a private lesson or participate in a festival or workshop. Is the teacher interested in you and able to elicit meaningful improvements? Do you sense a connection?
5. Ask Questions
If you schedule a lesson or an audition with a prospective teacher, bring a recorder, perform thoroughly prepared material, and ask questions like these – suitable educators will exhibit insightful thinking and refined teaching methods that are in harmony with your aims (links point to other posts on this blog):
- “What would you say my current strengths and weaknesses are?”
- “If I were to study with you, what might be some of our goals during the first few months?”
- “How do you advise students to learn new material?”
- “How do you help students become secure in performance?”
- “What are some ways that you guide students to grow their interpretive and other artistic abilities?”
- “What strategies do you recommend for building technical proficiency?”
- “In what ways do you help students prepare for professional careers?”
6. Probe Outcomes
If you aspire to a music career, ask a teacher for examples of past students who have become successful and search the Web for info about the teacher’s recent students.
If you’re keen to advance your musical abilities, The Musician’s Way has received worldwide acclaim for its approach to creative practice, artistic performance, professional preparation, and lifelong music making.
© 2013 Gerald Klickstein
Photo © Smileus, licensed from Shutterstock.com