With so many music tutors out there, how do you know what to look out for?
1) Make sure they can play
This may seem obvious, however there are people out there who's level of ability only really extends to playing "Wonderwall" and yet they present themselves as experts. I see this a lot on YouTube.
Unless this is the desired level of playing you wish to attain and this person is an exceptional teacher, you may want to go somewhere else.
It's also worth noting that your teacher should be able to play the music you want to be able to play yourself. This is less important when you're an absolute beginner and you need to first learn the basics irrespective of genre, but if you're ready to move on to Jazz or Prog Metal and your teacher isn't sufficiently skilled in those genres, it's their ethical responsibility to stop teaching you and if possible, refer you to someone who is.
2) Make sure your teacher is a committed teacher
"You're telling me there are music teachers out there who aren't actually committed to what they're doing?!?"
Yes. Being a musician isn't plain sailing and in most cases a musician will supplement their earnings by teaching, as this is usually a more stable source income. There are many fantastic and world renowned players who tour, release albums while at the same time, produce amazing tuition material that helps hundreds of students elevate their own playing. There are also those who are primarily educators, who dedicate the majority their time to teaching and producing educational material. It's an absolute pleasure to share their knowledge and help other people whilst talking about the thing they're most obsessed with: music.
For others, having students just means not working at the local supermarket. Usually, this type of teacher only has a few students and will offer their services at a super low rate to undercut competition because that's all they can do. They won't be able to offer references, testimonials or showcase their student's playing.
Their level of professionalism will show the level of their commitment, and you will find yourself in lessons with no structure or plan. They'll show you bits of information that aren't connected in any way or designed to develop any certain skill, leaving you confused and wondering why you have nothing to show for your time and investment.
3) Your teacher should have a plan
If you're hiring a dedicated professional, they will get you following a system that's designed to get you to your desired goals. This can be a curriculum of pieces and exercises which they issue to you to develop skills in certain area, or following a graded syllabus if that's what you want to do. If there's a certain skill you want to master, they will plan a step - by - step route for you to get there.
4) Make sure you like them
Remember at school when your favourite subjects were most likely the ones taught by a teacher you liked?
We like to be around people that are positive and make us feel good. If you're teacher isn't either of those things, just make sure that you at least get on well in the lesson. Learning an instrument can be hard enough without dealing with a strict and punishing teacher or personality clashes. After your initial lesson, you should be able to decide whether you gel with them or not.
5) Do a background check
This is particularly important if the lessons are for your child - you need to make sure they're safe.
Independent music teachers are generally not regulated and can often fail in providing sufficient insurance and background checks. In the UK, personnel working with children require an enhanced DBS check that discloses their convictions, cautions and other information held by police. Your teacher should have this check and be able to produce it on your request. For many services, a DBS check that's over 3 years old is no longer valid so make sure you're seeing a recent document.
The Take Away
Make sure you're dealing with a professional who's dedicated to the craft, who inspires you to work through your challenges and helps you produce outstanding results.
Reach out to us to help you find the right teacher for you!