Your child has insisted on starting music lessons. (Or maybe you were the one who insisted!) And you’re super excited to help them begin that journey. But now you might be wondering, how do I choose the right music teacher for my child? Where on earth do you begin? What if you don’t know the first thing about the instrument your child wants to play?
We get it. It can be overwhelming and easy to feel like you have zero to offer as a parent when it comes to music.
How to avoid the “red flag” teachers
We’ve put a lot of thought into this question at Brooklyn Music Factory, and we’ve hired dozens of brilliant music teachers who now teach at our school in Brooklyn. We’ve seen the red flags and the sparks fly. Here is our advice to parents who are new (or returning) to the search for a musical guide for their child.
How to choose the right music teacher:
You’re going to interview 3 different music teachers
What? Interview? Three?! Yes, to choose the right music teacher you’re going to meet at least three prospective music teachers with your child. Why? Because your family is worth it for starters. And furthermore, the amount of time and money you will invest in both instruments and lessons and recitals makes it a no brainer to start the journey with the most confidence possible.
This means that you will need to invest some time on the front end to find the perfect music teacher for your child.
Don’t worry, we are going to make sure you are prepared!
Great players do NOT necessarily make great teachers
In fact, it’s far more often just the opposite. Great players can be inspiring to be around, but their focus is on exactly that: their playing…. Not your child’s playing.
A dedicated music teacher is focused on the needs and goals of their students, first and foremost. They also have a method. Teachers are focused on breaking down craft into curriculum and guiding your child through a transformation one week at a time. We find that performance-focused musicians who teach on the side are rarely thinking on this level. Your family deserves better.
There are of course exceptions to the rule, but we’ve seen this over and over again and can’t really stress this enough. Great players do not make great teachers. Not by default.
Things to watch out for when first meeting a teacher
First, you should always meet the prospective teacher in person with your child. What is the first interaction like? Is the teacher more focused on you or your child? If you find that this person seems almost solely focused on speaking with you, and doesn’t make eye contact with your child – that’s a red flag.
Does she instead get down on your child’s level, and speak with him/her directly? That’s a good sign. A good teacher is comfortable and speaks naturally with children.
The 3 questions you MUST ask when interviewing a prospective music teacher:
- “Which teaching method do you use and why have you chosen that one over others?”
Remember, a good teacher is acutely aware of their method and curriculum. If they have no answer to this question, they’re not the teacher you’re looking for.
2. “Please share a success story about a student that’s a similar age to mine who started out challenging and grew to love music lessons with you.”
Any experienced music teacher will have their fair share of stories like this. We have ALL had students who started out challenging and then blossomed. They are memorable. If the teacher you’re interviewing struggles to answer this question, that’s a big red flag.
3. “Can you share the story of one music teacher that taught you as a child that made a profound difference in your life?”
This question is important because you want to know that your child’s music teacher has a respect for the teacher/student relationship from both sides. We’ve never met a successful teacher who couldn’t speak to one important mentor of theirs.
We hope this helps in your quest to choose the right music teacher for your child!
Finding the right music teacher can take some time, but in the end it will be worth it when your child is loving music, and playing on his or her own. In the meantime, we’ve put together two wonderful tools for parents with kids beginning music lessons. One is totally free and will get you started playing music together at home. The other one is not free, and it’s for parents that are a bit more invested in their child’s musical success. Check them out below!
Two great resources for parents
- Musical Family Toolkit (it’s free!) – with 4 fun tools to teach you how to build a musical play space in your home, a complete music store checklist, plus our gear resource guide and more!
- Your Family Band – We care deeply about inspiring lifelong music makers at Brooklyn Music Factory, so much so that we’ve built an online course for our families here at the school and for families beyond Brooklyn called Your Family Band. We’ve gathered all the best lessons learned working with thousands of families, and combined them here into one resource for parents wishing to start their child’s music lessons in the best way possible. If you’d like to learn more about Your Family Band, click here!