I once had a private music teacher who never played her instrument in lessons. Her beautiful instrument just sat on the bench the whole lesson, never touched. Never did she demonstrate her point musically. Being new to the instrument at the time meant I never heard up close and personal what good tone sounded like. It turns out I wasn’t adopting the correct technique for attack, pitching, or closure of the notes, according to the examiner who failed me. What a waste of hundreds of pounds of lessons.
I immediately changed teachers. I listened to every recording of the instrument I could find. Over time, I became a performer and teacher. I learned from her failures as a teacher and vowed never to let a student down like that. And yes, I’m still bitter about my early lessons. Isn’t it odd how a poor teacher can be as memorable as a great one. The sad thing is, that teacher was an incredible player. I once snuck into a solo performance. Never before have I heard an instrument sound so beautiful, controlled, and lyrical in tone.
A great music teacher will be a huge asset to your musical career. And a truly great teacher will help shape your career from day one. In the early days, you may not be aware just how good your teacher is, or how far they will help you go. But if you have a good one, there will certainly be some signs you’re onto a winner:
You Learn Something New Every Lesson
It’s important you are getting what you are paying for. That is an education. You should be learning more about your instrument, musicianship, music theory, and how to master playing. If you come away from each lesson knowing something new, then your teacher is doing their job. A truly great music teacher will be brimming over with a passion for the subject matter. They’re keen to pass on their knowledge and understanding. And you should be left with the same excitement at the end of each lesson too.
You Hear Your Instrument Played Well Every Week
Your teacher should be sharing their favourite recordings with you so you can hear how the professionals sound. You should also be offered information about upcoming concerts you could attend. Most importantly, you should be able to hear yourself play notes and phrases well every lesson. A good music teacher will help you play correctly using a mixture of demonstration, sound matching, and verbal instruction.
Your Teacher Is Interested
A good music teacher is interested in you and what you like musically. You should feel confident to bring your own music and ideas for compositions to each and every lesson. Your teacher will delight in hearing about your other instruments, bands, music groups, and lessons. Rather than it be a distraction from their teaching plan, these details will be woven into your learning. A great teacher can take what you know and what you love, and help you use that experience in mastering your instrument.
You Want To Play Your Instrument
Good teachers can’t leave their instruments alone. They’re passionate to play and make music with other musicians like you. And you want to play just as much, because you are inspired by your teacher and the lessons you have together. Your teacher should offer you opportunities to play every lesson. A great teacher finds you plenty of opportunities to play outside of lessons too. It may be in an orchestra, ensemble, band or other group. Performances make us better musicians, and your teacher will encourage you.
You Want To Excel
Your lessons should be directed in such a way that you want to complete tasks to the best of your ability. You’ll love seeing your teacher’s face light up when you play well, and you’ll want to take it to the next level each and every time. Excelling at what you do comes from drive and passion. These things may already be within you. A great teacher nurtures it, motivates it, and rewards it every lesson.
Good teachers can be the people we remember long after lessons have ended, and they can be the people we toast when we win awards! If you’ve got a great music teacher, you’ll know it. Listen carefully, and you may just become the musician you always wanted to be.