3 things to ask before hiring a music instructor for your child

November 3, 2015

With so much focus on international competition to improve student achievement in reading, writing, math and science, it is easy to forget the importance of music education. Ensuring that children are exposed to the benefits of playing an instrument often falls to parents, and it can be a daunting task to select a qualified instructor whose style will be effective when paired with individual student needs. These three questions are crucial in making a successful match between music teacher and student.

3 things to ask before hiring a music instructor for your child

1. What are the instructor's qualifications?

  • In recent years, organizations and associations have developed procedures to certify music instructors and ensure ongoing professional development. For example, the Canadian Federation of Music Teachers' Associations offers the CFMTA/FCAPM Certificate of Recognition for Professional Achievement.
  • While memberships in such organizations and achievement of relevant certifications are not the only indications that an instructor is well-qualified, they do demonstrate a music teacher's commitment to the profession and dedication to his or her own continuous improvement.
  • Other important information that can come from this enquiry includes details of the candidate's education and a description of previous professional experience in general teaching, performance arts and direct music instruction.

2. What are the instructor's expectations of parents and students?

  • This question is critical to ensure that the music teacher's goals match the student's goals.
  • When students expect a relaxed learning atmosphere in which they make slow, steady progress towards the goal of learning basic music skills, a teacher set on creating nationally recognized musicians is not a good fit.
  • Expectations about the duration and frequency of lessons and home practice should be generally aligned in order to ensure a positive experience for both students and families.

3. What are the costs?

  • The instructor's hourly or per-class rate isn't the only fee that families can find themselves responsible for when it comes to children's music lessons.
  • Some music teachers have instruments available, while in other cases it is necessary to rent or buy the equipment.
  • Books and sheet music, special clothing for recitals, and travel fees for concerts and competitions can all require extra financial support from families.
  • Understanding any additional costs up front will help families stay on budget and can help to avoid disappointment or bad feelings later in the relationship.
  • Finally, request the opportunity to observe a class or lesson before making a final decision. Watching a potential instructor in action is the best method of getting a sense of the classroom atmosphere, understanding his or her teaching style, and ensuring a successful match between music teacher and student.
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