Nine Qualities To Look For In A Great Private Music Instructor

Nine Qualities To Look For In A Great Private Music Instructor

Nine Qualities To Look For In A Great Private Music Instructor

I’ve had a lot of music lessons in my life.  Both classical and jazz, in classrooms and privately one on one, and on the bandstand.  I’ve had many years to study what goes into the journey to musical independence, original playing and thinking about music.

First off, here is my list of nine qualities that a great private music instructor should possess……..some of these qualities may seem obvious, but all are vital nonetheless.

1.  Patience
2.  Knowledge
3.  Experience
4.  Ability to schedule time effectively.
5.  Command of technology as it relates to their discipline.
6.  Enthusiasm
7.  Ability and desire to organize and present materials.
8.  Willingness to do extra things for deserving students, i.e recordings, letters of recommendation and the like.
9.  Clear and concise communication with respect to suggestions for improvement.

A great instructor will always have the first three qualities—patience, knowledge and experience.  After one lesson with a master instructor you should find these qualities in abundance.  Numbers four and seven are related, a disorganized music instructor cannot schedule time effectively, nor can they organize and present materials well.  I had an instructor once that contradicted himself from one lesson to another, having me relearn things another way after showing me something initially.  You can imagine how frustrating that was.  Turning to number 5, these days any music instructor that doesn’t have a basic command of technology, use a laptop and have a good sized data base at their side, is just not prepared to teach anything beyond a very beginning level of anything.  Number six, enthusiasm, while obvious, is not always present with an instructor.  Jaded, overworked, underpaid, bad attitudes…..it all contributes to a less than great learning environment.  Avoid these types of instructors at all costs!

Number seven, the organization and presentation of material, really demonstrates an instructors commitment to a teaching timeline and time frame.  If an instructor has experience, they sure should have a long term outlook and intermediate goals for a student, and have resources available that will be presented to achieve success.  I use both traditional books that have served me well over the years, and hundreds of pages of exercises and solo material that I have written out with Finale that were either taught to me by my teachers, or developed over my three decades of teaching.

Regarding number eight, the “above and beyond the call of duty” quality……A great music instructor does so much more than just teach a lesson; they take an interest in each student, get to know them personally and understand their strengths and weaknesses, and go out of their way to motivate, help and INSPIRE their students every way they can think of.  In some cases the instructor and the student become life long friends.

Surely number nine is critical, a clear and concise explanation of various ideas and concepts leads to fast learning and the shortest time needed to reach a particular musical goal.  Any great instructor is clear with respect to the ideas presented that lead to improvement and ultimately mastery of your instrument.

Finally, try to take a trial lesson from many different instructors.  It is only with exposure to different teaching styles and methods that you will find a good fit for your personality.  Don’t hesitate to move on if you feel you have gone as far with someone as they are going to take you.  Remember, the ultimate goal of teaching is to lead the student to a point where they are knowledgeable and capable of teaching themselves for a lifetime.  Just like teaching a person to fish can feed them forever, a true student of music is always learning and can sustain their own musical interest and inspiration from resources discovered from within their heart, soul and mind.

The next blog post will address Clarinet And Saxophone Care, Maintenance and Repair.

Thanks for your interest…..Markos  

1Comment
  • Erik Walker
    Posted at 02:39h, 18 February Reply

    Good article, Mark. Thanks.

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