Re: Evaluating Music Teachers

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Posted by S.W. on May 20, 1999 at 04:48:03:

In Reply to: Evaluating Music Teachers posted by Gillian on May 19, 1999 at 20:27:25:

I don't know how large your city is or how many good teachers you have to choose from...But I would start by amassing a list of names and phone numbers. Call local colleges and universities, the big pro orch. in town (if there is one) and some community orchestras. All of these sources will probably be able to give names and bios of teachers before you even need to talk to any teacher personally. It's also a good way to start getting a feel for who does a lot of teaching in the area and who has successful students. Hopefully after spending some time on the phone, you will have a whole bunch of names. Now group them into the ones that you are the most interested in, an undecided group and a group that you probably won't bother to call. Now start calling the teachers in your "A" group. This is kind of a phone interview stage for you and the teacher. Some may be full and not taking new students. This is a chance to ask if you can quickly tell a bit about yourself, and ask if they can recommend someone that would fit your playing level. This is a great way to get new names...and then you can say that so and so gave you their number (a good opener). Now assuming you call someone that does have openings, they will probably ask you about your experience and what you have been working on, and YOU MUST NOT BE SHY about asking about their credentials--where did or do they play or go to school, who did they study with, how much teaching they do, what do their students usually go on to do. DON'T FORGET TO ASK ABOUT THEIR TEACHING SCHEDULE AND WRITE IT DOWN. You may not end up with your first choice because of scheduling difficulties, so don't waste your time with the next step, which is the audition lesson, if you will have scheduling problems. To end the converstion just thank them for their time and say that you will call them back after you have your schedule finalized to see if you are free when they are. That gets you off the hook for setting up a lesson right then (especially if you think you don't like them). After you complete this step you should have 2 or 3 front runners. (Hopefully, you didn't have to call anyone on your "B" or "C" list.) Now it's time to set up the audition lesson. Start at the top of your now short list and set up a lesson. Approach this like a real first lesson and plan to pay for it. Take all of the stuff you are working on and be sure to brush up on something so that you can demostrate the true level of your playing. (Remember, the teacher is sizing you up, too.) Make sure this is like a real lesson, not a getting to know you chat. Usually, a good teacher will see things in a new student's playing that need fixing. At a first lesson this sort of thing is discussed and often the teacher will dive into at least one of those things and start showing you how to fix it. If they don't do anything like that, I'd worry that they are the fix rhythm and dynamics type who don't work enough on playing technique. They will also discuss what they will work on with you and the first lesson is usually the time when different warm-up routines, etc. are presented. After testing out 2 or 3 teachers this way you should have a pretty good basis of comparison. This may have been too long winded, but I'm from the NY metro area and it took a lot work weeding through a myriad of great names and accomplished performers to find the right teacher for my kid. Good luck!! By the way, if you post a message telling where you a moving, maybe someone here can give you suggestions.

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