How To Find A Music Teacher Who Cares
Choosing the right music teacher can make a big difference in whether your music lessons are a success. And by success, I mean that they start you on a journey that makes music a part of your life that is satisfying. You learn a lot, you know how to practice, you feel good about your progress, you have fun, and you find that you are excited to learn more.
There are all types of music teachers available, so how can you find the right one? One way is to find a music school that hires teachers that are not only musically qualified through education, teaching experience, and professional gigging experience, but also who truly care about their students and regularly go the extra mile to keep students engaged and excited, and lead them to success. This kind of music school does the work for you!
Working at Music House for several years, I've had the opportunity to see first-hand many teachers that exhibit all the "right stuff" to be great teachers. My job as Community Manager is to help others see Music House as I do--a music school where you can find the most amazing group of teachers working together to give students the best experience possible. But I wanted to let the teachers speak for themselves. Here are just a few of the ways our teachers show they care:
Band Workshop "Paranoia" students: Jack Cecil, Peyton Palmer, Anthony Passerelli, Jackson Klestinske, Grant Geiger, and Wyatt Benteman. The band workshop is taught by Patrick Woolam.
Josh Johnson (guitar class, lesson and band workshop teacher)
"I have noticed that some students seem to have a hard time taking what they have learned and turning it into effective practice. This is especially true for the very young kids in a classroom setting, and some students master the art of "looking busy." I noticed one particular student excelling at the goofy chord games we play in class, but struggling with playing along to songs. I realized that he knew all of the chords in the songs, but obviously had never spent any real time practicing transitioning the chords in the context of a song. I then realized he had no real idea how to read the music or chord charts, but was just using the classroom setting to blend in.
Once I realized the problem, I had Andy (Program Manager) contact the parents and ask them to come in and talk to me before or after his next class. The student's father came in and I sat down to explain how to read the chord diagrams, explained the simple "one-two-three-four CHANGE CHORD one-two-three-four CHANGE CHORD, etc. I then explained how his son knew all of the chords, and just had trouble changing in between them and understanding when. I then broke down a simple practice regimen that his son should be doing pretty much everyday. I did my best to educate his father to supervise and help make the practicing more efficient."
Amy Laemmli (voice and piano lesson teacher)
"I think that caring teachers let students make mistakes---and they tell them, "Hey, this is your first performance. You're going to make mistakes." I tell my students that I have to perform a song for a good month before it starts to sound good. I let them see and hear me sight reading---and making mistakes. I tell them my failed audition stories along with the successful ones. Why paint a seemingly unattainable picture of a professional musician? As long as you're making progress, you're successful. Keep going!"
"I tell them my failed stories along with the successful ones. Why paint a seemingly unattainable picture of a professional musician? "
Brock Schwien (guitar class, lesson and band workshop teacher)
"I have a band workshop, Chovette, that is doing really well, and I wanted to help them go even farther. I bought a microphone pre-amp, and brought in all of my equipment one day to rehearsal. I told them we were going to record our rehearsal, making sure we did all of our original songs. I've been bringing my gear to almost every rehearsal for two months, and we have recorded all of the songs using different mic placements, and even doing a take with just drums and bass, then overdubbing guitar and vocal parts. The project isn't finished yet, but our goal is to have it completed by the end of the month.
We have also discussed bigger picture stuff that goes along with creating an all original CD, such as how to copyright a song. And would they want the songs to be available online? I think this process has been a realistic introduction to the recording process, which is great learning experience that not many kids their age have had."
Drew Little (drum lesson and band workshop teacher)
Patrick Woolam (guitar lesson and band workshop teacher)
"I brought in a condenser microphone and my recording software one band rehearsal, and set it up to record them live. I wanted to give them a better idea of how they sound live, to help keep them motivated to get better each week. It turned out very well! We haven’t actually compiled a CD or 'Demo' quite yet, but that is the goal. So far it's strictly the cover songs they have been playing. It has motivated them to start writing and working on more original music, which is what I believe this experience is all about, and why I do what I do every week here!"
"I brought in a condenser microphone and my recording software one band rehearsal...to give them a better idea of how they sound live"
Jen Weiman (vocal class, lesson and vocal ensemble teacher)
"I care about all of my students!! I attend school plays and musicals, and other things that they are involved in outside of Music House, if I can fit it in my schedule. I send periodic emails to my students' parents to let them know about audition opportunities outside of Music House, such as the Royals' National Anthem submissions and musical theater programs. I also try to attend all the showcases here at Music House, and accompany as many students as I possibly can. My piano skills are not awesome, but I would rather my students have a live person to play with than a karaoke track any day. This usually requires me to practice my piano skills outside of lesson time with them. I also try to accompany classes and ensembles at the Grand Showcases. And I always bring my classes and ensembles treats after they perform at a showcase."
Josh Blythe (drum lesson teacher)
" If I feel a student is doing well, and is exceeding expectations, I like to give that student something “extra.” Whether it be a new lick/fill idea, or a new groove apart from their course of study, I want to treat that student with something musical to commend them for their hard work, as well as keep them excited about their musical journey."
Charles Hoeft (Piano class and lesson teacher)
"I always love talking with my students about the things they are doing at home, school, or in their community. In my piano classes, this sometimes launches into a sort of show-and-tell discussion between students, which is great. It helps the kids get to know each other really well. As a result, I've come up with some cool new activities and discussion topics, incorporating ideas which really interest my students. For instance, one of my students mentioned that she loved to sing, and it was awesome to see her eyes light up when we did a singing activity in our next class together. Overall, these conversations help me to connect with my students on a deeper and more personal level, which allows me to be a better and more caring mentor.
One of the best ideas my parents taught me was to be proud of my own work. So, after I've taught my students a new concept about music, I always push them a little to apply the same ideas to their next song, or within a new context. I love when students experience that "light bulb moment," where everything clicks, and they realize that they have figured out something on their own. Everyone deserves to be proud of their work, and I try my hardest to help each student shine their own "light bulb" as they learn new music and discover new things."
There are many different ways to be a great teacher. The important part in finding "the one" is to find a teacher that cares.
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"My favorite thing about teaching is getting a student out of their shell, so they can really be ready to explore the music and get into it. I also make sure to ALWAYS ask a student how their week has been, and try to get to know them on a personal basis. I feel that this helps them open up as a person, which encourages it in the music. At the end of every lesson I make sure that they leave with an encouraging compliment to feel confident about the following week and its musical challenges."
"I look at each new student as a blank slate as far as knowing how to motivate them. Each one is different, so I take time to get to know them, to find out what works for a particular student."
Steve Thomas (drum lesson and band workshop teacher)
"I look at each new student as a blank slate as far as knowing how to motivate them. Each one is different, so I take time to get to know them, to find out what works for a particular student. The most important thing for me, is to get them excited about learning to play. If you do that first, you won't have to prod them to practice--they will want to do it. One way to get and keep the excitement, is to show them how much they are accomplishing, even at the very beginning. Sometimes I'll bring the parents in at the end of just one or two lessons so the student can show them what they can already play.
I've had some special needs students, and one of them liked to sing along while he was playing, which for many students is very difficult to do. I decided to record him singing and drumming, so he could hear how he sounded. That really helped keep him excited about his playing."