31 MAR 2017

How to find the right music teacher for your child

Finding the right music teacher is a vital step in harnessing your child’s love of music writes Linda Lorenza

Music teachers who work with young children simply love seeing how they perceive the world of sound. That said, every teacher will have their own style of playing and there are a variety of different formats in which your child can learn.  Finding the right music teacher is a vital step in harnessing your child’s love of music – be it as a fun hobby or to begin a musical career. Fortunately there a few steps you can take to make this process a little easier and ensure your child is on the right track.

1. Establish their interest

The child needs to be interested in learning an instrument or they won’t be willing to invest their own time in practising and attending lessons. If you’re unsure about what instrument they want to learn, take them to a concert to see what piques their curiosity or look at the way they naturally responded to sound when they were little. For more information about the best time to start lessons for young children, read ‘When is my child ready to learn an instrument?’.

2. Ask at their school

A really good starting point is chatting to your child’s class teacher about what activities they have at the school. Many schools offer music lessons or music programs taught by musicians from the local community. If your school has a band then it’s a great chance for your child to learn to play music with their peers and explore the joy of making music with other people. Chatting to other parents is also a good way to get recommendations - it’s not unusual for children to come home from play dates and ask to learn the same instrument from the same music teacher as their friends!

3. Check out some online resources

If your child’s school doesn’t have any of the programs mentioned above, you can check out the Australian Music Teachers Register for someone in your area and review the list of instruments and graded repertoire on the Australian Music Examinations Board. There are also many companies offering group music lessons, which can also be a fun way for your child to get started.

4. Buying or loaning an instrument

Investing in a piano or string instrument can be very expensive! Fortunately many schools offer instruments for hire or loan in return for a commitment to the school ensemble. It’s important to establish your child’s enthusiasm for the instrument before outlaying a lot of money. For instance, if your child wants to learn piano it can be good to start out on a keyboard first before upgrading.  Hiring a ‘student’ model instrument before committing to the professional model is also an option.

5. Getting to know the teacher

Once you have a teacher(s) in mind it’s a good idea to chat to them over the phone about your expectations. This will help you ascertain whether the relationship is a good fit.  It is advisable to sit in on the first lesson to observe how they interact with your child. It is a great way for you to see how your child learns so you can encourage them to practise at home. Most teachers will be comfortable with this.

6. What if your child isn’t practising or is unexcited about the lessons?

To really excel at an instrument it’s important that your child is interested in learning. If they are not enjoying the practice or the lessons it’s a good idea to chat to them about what in particular they are struggling with. It may be that they would like to try a different instrument or a teacher with a different style. Some children like to explore and make up music as they learn their instrument, others like to follow plan and work through an established graded program of music. You will know what’s best for your child.

Happy music-making!

Linda Lorenza is the Sydney Symphony Orchestra’s Director of Learning and Engagement and has taught piano and singing for more than 25 years.

How to find the right music teacher for your childHow to find the right music teacher for your child