In this edition of Q&A, we consulted pianist, opera singer and music educator
Terry Sloan on things that are important when considering music lessons.
What are important things to consider when choosing a private music teacher for yourself or your child?
Seek advice from professional bodies, for example, the Australian Music Teachers Association, music institutions such as Conservatoriums and music colleges. Word of mouth from friends, musicians, educators and family who have engaged their music teacher for some time is also important. Ask what qualifications the teacher holds, how long they have been working as a teacher and about their examination track record.
Should you meet the teacher before starting lessons?
I do consider it is important to arrange an interview before commencing lessons affording you the opportunity to hear the teacher perform, and ask any questions you may have. Questions you might consider asking could include: when and where did you study? what are your expectations of student? may the student learn for pleasure or must they do examinations? how often should the student practice? what should each practice session involve? … etc.
What is a ‘usual’ teaching fee?
As I understand it there are no hard and fast rules concerning tuition fees, however, in my opinion, qualifications, experience and teaching expertise are major factors affecting the fees. The Conservatorium, AMEB and Australian Music Teachers Association should be able to advise on fee structures.
What other things are important to think about?
Invest time and energy in seeking out the music teacher that will best suit you and/or your childs personality, temperament and expectations. Engaging a music teacher is very different to booking in with a math tutor. Cheapest is certainly never best. Don’t be afraid to ‘check them out’, seek advice from others who may already be working with the teacher you may be interested in. Professional music educators who meet all your criteria will not have a problem answering your questions nor will they be threatened by any checking you feel appropriate.
Learning music is a very important and valuable component of ones education. School teachers are vetted and undergo a rigorous selection process, so it should be for the private music teacher.