There is music in every child. The teacher’s job is to find it and nurture it.
One of the most important steps in bringing music into your child’s life, is to find the perfect music teacher for them. They need a teacher who is supportive, passionate and energetic, and who fills your child with confidence! There are many teachers available and, if you do not know much about music education, choosing one can be a daunting task. Don’t worry – follow these steps, and your child will soon be well on their way to loving their music lessons.
Where to find a teacher
- Word-of-mouth is by far the best way to begin! Ask around at school and different clubs, to find a recommendation for someone who already has a great reputation. If other parents are happy with their service, you are likely to be as well.
- Ask your school music coordinator or head-of-music. They may be able to recommend the school instrumental teacher, or someone local who can help you.
- Contact local music conservatoires, and ask for recommendations. (The Royal College of Music, The Royal Academy of Music, Guildhall School of Music and Drama, Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance, Birmingham Conservatoire, The Royal Northern College of Music, Leeds College of Music, The Royal Scottish Academy, The Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama) Teachers at conservatoires often won’t teach beginners (and, when they do, are VERY expensive), but the students often make brilliant teachers. They are people who are completely immersed in music, keen to learn everything about it, and will work very hard to gain teaching experience. Not every city has a conservatoire, but there may be other music colleges that are appropriate to enquire at.
- Do a simple google search for teachers in your local area. After narrowing your search down, you could then try searching for your chosen teachers – see if there are any reviews online, or if they have an online presence for any music work or performances they have done.
What to look for on their CV
Important: A person does not need any qualifications to offer private music lessons. Be careful here! Although there are some great teachers without formal education, it is difficult to verify the extent of their knowledge. There is nothing to stop amateurs from advertising themselves as music teachers, so be sure to ask lots of questions. Some things to look for on a CV include:
- Music performance certificates. Music exams are awarded in grades 1-8. Grade 5 is approximately GCSE-level standard. Grade 6/7 is approximately A-level standard. And grade 8 is the minimum standard expected for someone studying music at University level. ABRSM is the leading exam board to look for with classical instruments. Trinity or Guildhall exams are also good indicators. For drum kit/electric guitar teachers, RockSchool exams are the leading assessors.
- Music theory certificates. As well as practical exams, it is also possible to sit theory exams up to grade 8 level. When sitting ABRSM exams, a grade 5 theory certificate is required to sit grade 6 and above in practical exams. Although teachers do not have to have these certificates, it is a useful assessment of their theory knowledge. They need to have a good understanding of how music works, in order to be able to teach it effectively.
- Music qualifications: GCSE and A-level music are minimums really. A BMus or BA in music is a music degree – the teacher will have studied for 3-4 years at university for this qualification. An MA or MMus is a Masters degree, meaning a further 1-2 years of university study. A PGCE is a post-graduate teaching certificate, meaning that the teacher is qualified in classroom teaching.
- Look for experience of teaching, especially with music schools/colleges that you can research.
- Check for performing experience, to make sure the teacher is playing regularly, and keeping well practised.
- DBS Certificate. This is a criminal records check, to ensure that the teacher has not been arrested or had any dealings with the police. This is especially important if you will be leaving your child alone with the teacher.
- Public liability insurance. An insurance for the teacher in case you or your child hurt yourself whilst at their premises. It’s a worse-case scenario, but important to check that they have appropriate cover if this were to happen.
Most private teachers will offer a free trial. Use this an an opportunity to see if you and your child get on with the teacher, and to ask any questions you may have.
- Ask the teacher to play you something. You would assume that they are able to play the instrument that they are teaching, but it doesn’t hurt to check! See how comfortable they are doing so, and see if your child is interested and inspired by what they choose to play
- Watch the trial lesson carefully. Is your child engaged? Is everything explained in a way that they can easily understand? Can they play anything by the end of the lesson? (A good teacher should be able to have every child playing something simple in 30 minutes)
- Does the teacher use a range of activities through the lesson? A good lesson will involve lots of interaction, playing, listening work, theory work, improvisation… lots of variety! Not every lesson will include all of these elements but, in order to hold a child’s attention, there should be lots of different games and tasks
- Does your child look comfortable and as though they are enjoying it? You will know your own child better than anyone, but do they look more comfortable and confident as the lesson goes on?
Questions to ask:
- What resources do you use to teach with? Do you use a single tutor book, or a mixture?
- What will I need to buy to get started?
- Will you set regular homework, and how much practise do you expect each week?
- Will you enter my child for exams and, if so, which exam board will you use?
- How much do you charge, and how would you like to be paid? (Lessons cost around £15 per 30 minute lesson. Some teachers are happy to be paid weekly, while others like to be paid monthly or termly. Make sure you check their policy carefully)
- What is your policy about missed lessons? Will we still be charged?
- How did my child get on in their trial? Can I expect regular feedback?
There are some wonderful music teachers out there, who live and breathe to teach children! Using these steps, I hope you are able to find the perfect match for you and your child. If your first choice doesn’t work out, don’t give up! There will be someone who inspires your child, and therefore helps them to achieve brilliant things.
At Elegie School of Music, we offer lessons in piano and drums, to children and adults in Solihull! Contact Lauren at firstname.lastname@example.org for more info.