Its that time of year again:
Christmas has gone, Holidays are coming to and end and New Years resolutions are starting to be tested. I find that a lot of people decide to start playing an instrument or start learning to sing around about now. So if you're a player already and have decided to improve your skills, or you're starting from scratch, I've put together a little guide to finding a great teacher.
Ability to Play:
Having a teacher that can play to a very high standard is really important. If your teacher can't play well, then they're not going to have any idea of how to get you to play well because they've not been through the process themselves.
Having a teacher with performance experience is important to you as a student regardless of what level of player you are. The mental skills required for performance in front of an audience are something that, if passed on, will help you learn to play well.
If your teacher isn't passionate about music then they're not the sort of person that you should be learning from. This is an absolutely essential ingredient.
Your teacher must listen to you and what you want. At the same time I'd have to say, if you've got a good teacher, make sure that you listen to them. Also, the teacher should have broad listening taste and be willing to listen and explore the music that you bring to them wanting to learn.
If the teacher is working on their own playing and still trying to improve, learn more and advance their knowledge, then they're the sort of person that you want. They'll very much be in touch with the learning process and will understand what its like for you to be learning new things, because they are constantly learning themselves. Students often marvel at the patience of this sort of teacher.
Offer a trial lesson:
I think its a nice touch if the teacher offers a free, no obligation lesson so that you can come along a 'try out' their teaching. That way you can get a feel for what they'll be able to do for you and you'll be able to compare with any other lesson experiences that you've had.
Teach technique and how to learn / practice:
If your teacher doesn't try to teach you some fundamental physical technique on your instrument, then there is something wrong. Technique is simply the study of making playing easy. So if you want to learn in the fastest way possible, make sure that your teacher covers physical technique, as well as teaching how to practice.
So if you've made a New Years resolution to start playing or singing, or if you've decided to get back into it from when you've played in the past. Make sure that you find someone who's going to help you stick to your commitment and get the best out of your lessons.