Your best way to find a teacher is by word of mouth. Even if you’re newly moving into an area, find some friends in real life or network with others through a Facebook group to get some leads. Using a Google search can be helpful, but you’re more likely to find music schools than private teachers. Private teachers are usually better established and prefer to teach on their own versus sharing a cut of pay with a music school.
Once you’ve narrowed down your choice of teachers, schedule a trial lesson with your top choice(s). Teachers should welcome this opportunity to meet with you, though you should be prepared to pay for the lesson. This is the model used when a music student applies to a university or conservatory music degree program. It’s beneficial for both parties to get to know each other.
Before committing to a new teacher, you want to get a glimpse into their teaching style. On the flip side, they also want to get to know a prospective student and their parents. Even the best teacher for most isn’t the best teacher for all. There are a variety of reasons why a teacher and a student may or may not be a good fit. It’s best to discover them at a trial lesson versus several weeks into the semester.
Teacher Qualifications and Preferences
Ask for the teacher’s qualifications. Many teachers have at least an undergraduate degree, but you’re also looking for teaching experience and success with former and current students. Find out how long the teacher has been teaching as well as the the level and age of students they typically teach or prefer to teach.
Preschool? Special Needs?
These are just two areas where you want to make sure the teacher is a good fit. I don’t teach preschool students in general, since I don’t have the equipment or the games-based curriculum they need. I can handle mild cases of ASD and other learning challenges, but I wouldn’t be your teacher of choice for a more extreme situation.
Is your child a young prodigy or a very advanced student? Ask the teacher how she has worked with such a student in the past. If you are an adult student, finding the right teacher to keep you motivated is important since attrition is much higher in adults than with children.
Find out what performing opportunities are available. Is there a recital at the end of each semester, as well as more informal opportunities to perform? Does the teacher participate in an association, such as Piano Guild or the National Music Teachers Association? These organizations provide teachers with continuing education and school-aged children with additional performance and evaluation opportunities.
Do You Have A List of Questions?
Make sure you ask the questions that are important to you. They may or may not be the same as my list. You are making an important investment in your child’s education. Make sure that your prospective teacher’s goals align with yours for your child.
I offer this post as a guide to find the right piano teacher as I would to my own family and friends. If you’d like to read more, here’s an article from the Music Teachers National Association (MTNA) on the subject. I wish you success in finding a teacher that will help you meet your goals for years to come!