How to Choose the Right Music Instructor

It is conclusively proven and known that learning a musical instrument can improve memory, better physiological coordination, boost academic performance and grades, stimulate mental activity, heal and relax the soul. Therefore, it behooves one who is seeking to learn how to play a musical instrument to choose the right instructor. This is important whether one is a professional, amateur, beginner, child or even dabbler, because it is one of the most important elements in achieving the great benefits one can gain.One may have the consideration that a good instructor is expensive so a common argument is “I don’t want to play music professionally, so why should I pay more?” Well, let’s dispel a myth here. Having a quality music teacher is an investment, whether one learns it professionally or even not. Learning music is not a short-term affair. It requires a considerable amount of time to even get up to the point where one can play a musical instrument at even its most basic level. In other words, it just doesn’t happen overnight, fact. Having poor or even mediocre instruction gives one bad habits, frustration and generally results in a loss. So, either one quits and takes a loss or seeks better instruction. Either way, any time and money invested in that instruction went down the drain. And, usually, the new teacher has to spend a considerable amount of time to undo the damage caused by his or her predecessor. Therefore, one cannot afford NOT to have a good instructor.There is an old adage, “You get what you pay for.” Generally speaking, this is somewhat true, even with music instruction. However, high rates do not always guarantee quality. There are a couple of factors one should know about. First, if a teacher services is located in a very affluent geographical location, that could affect his or her price by virtue of location alone. Location, however, has no bearing upon quality of instruction. Second, a teacher may have few or no competitors in their respective zone, especially if they service a particular sector (e.g., city, neighborhood, clubs, organizations, etc.), therefore, they essentially may monopolize music instruction for their sphere of influence. This, again, does not necessarily guarantee quality of instruction. Thus, these two points should be consulted, always. A good instructor will be worth his or her weight in gold, so the RIGHT things to look for are the IMPORTANT attributes, not location, monopoly or hype.So, what are the important attributes to look for then? There are two key ones.The first requirement of a good music instructor is his or her own mastery of performance of the instrument they are teaching. How experienced are they? How long have they themselves been performing as well as teaching? These are questions you should ask. However, the best index of this is to actually see it and hear it for your own self. Ask to see the instructor’s own performance, whether live or recorded, and investigate certain points. Their performance should be done in a relaxed, natural and comfortable manner, almost seemingly effortless. Be wary of any physical tension, namely in the upper body and facially. If the performer possesses such tension, they will teach that which will result in unnecessary effort, stiffness and even physical pain. The performance may be expressive, but not tense. It should be smooth and like butter. Also, check to see who they themselves studied under. Excellent instruction is necessary to make excellent performers and instructors.The next requirement of a good music instructor is his or her own teaching credentials. These factually have to be earned and are not just one’s higher education degree; they are issued separately and on top of one’s degree. Ask to see the documentation. It is not only your right, but is very highly recommended. Possessing such credentials, which are usually issued by one’s state, are a good indicator as they show that one has taken their music instruction seriously and at least has a purpose and passion in the area.The final and another very crucial requirement of a good music instructor is his or her own behavior as one. It goes without saying that one should be friendly, patient and persistent. However, a good instructor will never lose his or her temper or become impatient with a student, no matter how much work that student may require to accomplish a task. He or she must have the ability to detect and remedy any and all barriers to learning that may be encountered, no matter how light or severe, and will not take forever to debug them either, nor give up, but will persist until these barriers are overcome. This is what teaching really is. Adherence to discipline is, of course, a must, as with any education. However, invalidating or becoming critical or harsh with a student has no bearing on that student’s ability to learn a musical instrument. Rather, it impedes it. What matters is effectiveness. So, a good instructor is, simply put, effective as one. He or she will be able to accomplish the task of teaching a student and will do it in a positive light.Music can be quite fun to learn. It is recommended for just about anybody – all ages, all levels. A good instructor is the guide that determines the outcome of that Evelyn Simonian
© 2011. Evelyn Simonian