How to Get Started with Music Lessons

Often people ask me, “How do I find the right teacher?”

Each of us remembers certain instructors from our own past, good and bad.  Maybe you had a teacher that you couldn’t stand, but everybody else in the class liked.  Or perhaps everybody complained about one instructor….  but you kinda liked ’em.

I will never forget my own fifth grade teacher Mrs. Miller, with red hair and fierce determination.  She would never allow half-hearted, incomplete or unsatisfactory work. I owe my enduring love of books to her really HARD reading assignments. I credit my need for answers to her insistent,  “Look it up, find the answers, challenge your brain, think for yourself.”

My wonderful music teacher from grades 7, 8 and 9 was Miss Lawrence, who loved music with all her heart, and wanted each of us to love it as well.

Whether it’s for yourself, or for your child, when a student is getting ready to start music lessons, it’s good to remember that it won’t be instantaneous, and the process is a lot easier if the instructor is a good fit.  Sometimes it takes a few tries.  Something you don’t want to hear is, ” Okay, you want lessons, well… open up your checkbook, because you’ve got to sign up for a complete semester.”  Ask for a trial lesson, but don’t expect for teacher after teacher to spend quality time with you for free.

At the first lesson, the instructor should evaluate the student’s musical ability and understanding. Be prepared to talk about your expectations and goals.  The teacher should consult with both parent and child regarding style and preferences, and discuss the commitment to practice.  Learning something new, whatever it is, involves some work and consistency.

The student should also bring to the trial lesson some of the pieces that they are currently studying (if any), so the teacher can review the music with them.  What the instructor gathers from this time together is information needed to customize a plan for that student’s specific needs. That’s also a good time to ask any questions you may have, and determine the best day and time for continuing lessons.

After the trial lesson, the student should have several weeks with the new instructor, to be certain that this is the best fit.  Whether young or old, a student knows pretty quickly whether or not they will “click” with a teacher.

Lastly, it really is true that often times you’ll get what you pay for. In the same way, you shouldn’t equate a high price for good quality. Bargain basement price sometimes means bargain basement product.  Don’t be afraid to trust your gut.  See what you can do to sit in on your students lesson. Ask questions.

…and you probably already know this, but if you have a friend who’s student is happy with their lessons, you may want to think about going there.