In my ten plus years of teacher of teachers, I often find parents are at a loss when it comes to the process of finding the right teacher for their child. In music, the better one plays, the more fun one has. Therefore, I think that it is important to find the best teacher one can afford, regardless of current aspirations or uncertain musical futures.
Before I go on, let me explain what “Best Teacher” means to me. The “Best Teacher,” for your child, is one who will inspire your child to reach their greatest musical potential. This may or may not be a concert artist. This may or may not be a teacher who has a doctorate in music, charges the highest fee or the lowest fee or is closest to your home. While those are important factors, they should not be deciding factors.
To find the best teacher for your child, begin with a list of teachers to consider. After creating the list, consider what you want in a teacher and what your child needs in a teacher. You are looking for a great piano teacher, one with whom your child will want to study for years and who shares your goals and/or those of your son or daughter.
Then, contact each prospective piano teacher on the phone. Do not use email. You want to discover if this is someone, with whom you want a professional relationship. A phone call can tell you volumes more about a person, and your interest in establishing a relationship with them, than an email.
Begin the call by expressing your interest in finding a piano teacher for your child and his or her age. Some teachers do not teach children under certain ages. Then, simply ask, “Can you tell me a little about yourself and your studio.” At some point during the phone call, the teacher should invite you to his or her studio to answer any other questions, for an audition, or for an informal meet and greet. If, after talking to this teacher, you are interested in finding out more, accept the teachers invitation to the studio. If the teacher does not invite you to the studio, ask if it is possible for a visit.
Before the visit, create a list of questions you want to ask the teacher. For example, what are his or her teaching philosophies, methods, credentials, etc? What experience does he or she have? When you arrive at the studio, look around the inside and the outside of the studio. Do you feel comfortable in the environment? Does the teacher keep the studio clean and well kept? Does it seem like a place of serious study or a place of imaginative fun? Which is more important to you?
During the interview, the teacher might show you around the studio, talk about other students, tell you what methods they use to teach, what your child can look forward to, what the benefits are of studying there, etc. Teachers, also, like to hear prospective students play, even if they have never taken lessons before.