Most adults wish they could play a musical instrument, and want to give that gift to their children. The most important component – more important than the instrument itself – is the music TEACHER! But how do you find a teacher who will be a great fit for your child and situation, so that the experience is a positive one with the results you’re looking for? Learn the most important question to ask yourself before looking for a music teacher, and five options for finding a great piano teacher who will be the best fit for your situation.
As a piano teacher for 30 years, I share:
- The most important question to ask yourself before looking for a music teacher is: What level of challenge and corresponding level of results are you looking for in this piano lesson experience?
- Five options for finding a great piano teacher who will be the best fit for your situation:
- Word of mouth: I do find this is the most common way to find a teacher and tends to bring the best results – meaning a good fit for teacher and student/family! If your kids are in soccer, start asking other parents if their kids are in piano lessons, and find out more about their experience. Ask neighbors, other parents whose kids are in school or church with your kids. Ask your child’s music teacher at school for recommendations, ask your church worship leaders for recommendations. Post on social media to get feedback from your friends and community. I’ve seen these types of posts on FB, within Facebook parent or Mom groups, on Next Door, which is a neighborhood-based social media platform. As you’re receiving and evaluating referrals, again just keep that scale in mind. Someone else at your school may love their piano teacher, but you’re at significantly different places on the scale, you’ll want to chat with the teacher first to find out if your and their expectations are compatible.
- Go to Music Teachers National Association (MTNA) website. MTNA has a Find a Teacher link where you can find member teachers in your geographic area. You can also go more directly to your state’s affiliate (e.g., in MN, it is MMTA). Most if not all of the state associations also have Find a Teacher links on their websites. Teachers who are members of MTNA and the state affiliates are highly qualified, are probably very active in continuing education and professional development, and through their memberships they are able to offer a wide range of opportunities to your child in terms of performance opportunities and exam programs.
- Check out music schools in your area. One of the local music schools here in the Twin Cities is MacPhail Center for Music. They have a stellar reputation and have highly qualified teachers who offer lots of opportunities for students in multiple locations. Some music schools, including MacPhail, have extensive online teaching programs that you can take advantage of regardless of where you live.
- Check with music stores in your area. I work for Schmitt Music, and our stores contract with teachers to offer piano lessons and other instrument lessons right in our stores. We have stores in several states; I’ll include a link in the show notes. If we’re not in your area, check out the music stores that ARE in your area.
- Find a high school or college student to teach your child. Check around to see if there are any highly skilled high school or college pianists in the area who want to teach! You can check with piano faculty at colleges in your area. Teachers LOVE to have their students TEACH, because their students are forced to understand the material even better in order to articulate and teach it to someone else.
- How I got my start as a piano teacher.
- Tips for meeting with a prospective teacher once you’ve narrowed down your choices. Some questions you may want to ask a prospective music teacher during this meeting:
- What are the teacher’s requirements for students for practice time and performances? If the teacher requires all students to participate in a judged event with memorized music, best to know that now to avoid any surprises.
- What are the teacher’s goals for their students?
- If YOU or your child have specific goals for lessons, be sure to discuss these with a potential teacher (e.g., compete, compose their own music, accompany their self singing, learn chords to play with a band, etc.).
- What kind of music do your students play (classical only? sacred? pop?)?
- Music Teachers National Association (MTNA) website’s Find A Teacher link
- MTNA State Affiliates: Most, if not all, of these affiliates have their own Find A Teacher link for member teachers in the state
- Schmitt Music offers music lessons within their stores
- You may also find these episodes helpful:
- Ep. 113: What is the best age to begin piano lessons?
- Ep. 6: “How to Get Your Child to Practice… Without Resorting to Violence!” with author Cynthia Richards
- Ep. 106: How to Talk… when kids don’t want to practice, with authors Joanna Faber & Julie King
- Ep. 28: My CHILD is taking music lessons; what’s MY role? with Suzanne Greer
- Ep. 33: Looking for music lessons that fit your unique situation? Check out these options, with MacPhail Center for Music’s Paul Babcock
- Ep. 31: “Good Music, Brighter Children: Simple and Practical Ideas to Help Transform Your Child’s Life Through the Power of Music,” with author Sharlene Habermeyer
- Ep. 59: How does MUSIC learning impact OTHER learning? With Dr. Anita Collins
- Ep. 60: How does music training affect children’s Social-Emotional Learning, and how is SEL affected by a pandemic? With Dr. Assal Habibi
- This podcast also has many episodes related to specific situations, which we WEREN’T addressing today – lessons for kids with Autism, special needs, speech or learning delays & disorders, kids who are hospitalized with illness. Here are links to these specific episodes:
- Ep. 100: How music can help students with autism develop their emotions, with Dawn Mitchell White
- Ep. 92: April is Autism Acceptance Month. One expert’s story and practical resources for music teachers of those with autism; with author Dr. Alice Hammel
- Ep. 77: Music interventions in speech development & disorders, with Laura Moorer, M.A., CCC-SLP
- Ep. 108: How is music boosting skills and learning in students in special education? With Natalie Hawkins, MT-BC
- Ep. 49: “Traditional learning methods don’t work for me.” Utilizing Multiple Intelligences in Learning, with Graeme Winder
- Ep. 48: Tips from a time management coach on accomplishing (or helping our kids accomplish) musical goals this summer, with Elizabeth Grace Saunders
- Ep. 45: Laurie Berkner describes music’s stabilizing effect for children during uncertain times, and serenades her graduating childhood fans
- Ep. 22: Putting Joy on the Menu for Hospitalized Kids, with Children’s Cancer Association’s MyMusicRx
- Ep. 11: A Lion Mom Roars: with America’s Got Talent Contestant Susan Pascale
- Ep. 12: Coldplay’s Music Therapy for Kids Suffering Illness: with Melodic Caring Project’s Levi & Stephanie Ware
This is a quick break to tell you about the digital sheet music site I have used for probably a decade! Sheet Music Direct is powered by music publisher Hal Leonard. They have more than a million sheet music arrangements that you can view – and listen to – right from your device for convenient online shopping and immediate downloads of educational, classical, and pop scores representing any genre and holiday. Prices start at $0.99 and you can both print your purchases instantly and access them on any device, which really comes in handy for our family when we’re out of state visiting Grandma & Grandpa, and they want to hear my kids play the piano! Sheet Music Direct has saved me countless hours of driving to music stores and sifting through bins of sheet music and books to find the right song (and hoping the perfect song isn’t out of stock). Access the latest hits and yesterday’s classics at sheetmusicdirect.com.
I hope this episode answers some questions about how to find a great piano teacher who will be most appropriate for your child and family situation. If you know of someone who may benefit from this episode, please share it with them! Just hit the Share option in your podcast app. If you don’t see it right away, tap the 3-dots icon, and that will probably make it appear.
Shoutout to former guest Sharlene Habermeyer – I just mentioned her episode – it was way back in Ep. 31. Sharlene was one of those guests who I really connected with and we have stayed in touch. At the time of our interview, Sharlene was living in Chicago. Since then, she moved to Salt Lake City to be near grandkids. I was in Salt Lake City (Park City), UT, in December and was able to meet Sharlene in person – finally – for the first time! And it was absolutely delightful to have lunch with her. She is even more delightful in person and it was a highlight of my trip. I highly recommend her episode and her book, “Good Music, Brighter Children: Simple and Practical Ideas to Help Transform Your Child’s Life Through the Power of Music.”
As always, all links from today’s show – and a transcript of this episode – can be found in the show notes at mpetersonmusic.com/podcast; this is Ep. 119. While you’re on my website, I’d love to hear from you! Tell me how YOU found your music teacher, or if you have suggestions to add to my list! You can reach me on email (email@example.com), Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or LinkedIn. All links are on that webpage, as well as in the episode details right in your podcast app. Thanks so much for joining me today. Until next time, may your life be enhanced with music.
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