6 Ways to Identify High-Quality Music Teachers

Image of four hands playing a piano“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):

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.

Related posts
Communicating with Teachers
The Growth Mindset
Making the Most of Music Lessons
The Master-Apprentice Model Is Dead

© 2013 Gerald Klickstein
Photo © Smileus, licensed from Shutterstock.com

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2 Responses to “6 Ways to Identify High-Quality Music Teachers”

  1. Emily said:

    Dec 05, 13 at 11:49

    Well, I’m as “jittery and awkward” as ever, but it has no bearing whatsoever on my teacher. She’s a wonderful, compassionate, and encouraging teacher, and my nerves are entirely self-inflicted. I would take it easy on that criterion! :)

  2. Gerald Klickstein said:

    Dec 05, 13 at 12:27

    Hi Emily – Thanks for the good-natured comment. I agree that we can’t draw conclusions about a teacher based on one student. I appreciate you emphasizing that. But if most or many of a teacher’s students exhibit a lack of security on stage, then that implies that the teacher isn’t effectively teaching performance skills and therefore a prospective student would do well to consider other possible instructors.