Here are some points to take note and look out for when you are hiring a piano teacher, and they will be important and helpful in cases where you are changing a teacher or looking for a suitable teacher for your child to start music lessons. As we all know, finding a suitable teacher is what everyone wishes and hope for, someone who never fails to make the lessons interesting and build our interest as we move along through the many years of learning journey. Changing teacher and finding the right one can be really a hassle and a tough task. Or rather, a good and suitable teacher is really hard to find!
Here are some of my views of “What makes a good Piano Teacher?”
1. He has the ability to play and demonstrate
This is the utmost important thing to look at when it comes to choosing a teacher. No matter how qualified the teacher is (from grade 8 to master degree), a teacher who can’t or is unwilling to play for the student will contribute to a very major problem faced during lessons.
When the student is learning a new piece, the teacher should be able to play and demonstrate to show the student how the piece should be played and what he expects the student to do in return. Without this demonstration, the students will be helpless and do not have proper guidance from the teacher. Some younger students may probably never hear of the song before and therefore they do not know how the song should sound like. This will make them very confused and reluctant to practice on their own.
Therefore, do not ever hesitate to request your teacher to play a piece for you if you have anything unsure about the song. A good teacher should be able to guide you and show you how to do things correctly, not just by verbal instructions but also by actions!
2. He is updated about the current exam syllabus and is constantly upgrading himself
Everyone take exams seriously and sometimes it may take a year or more for students to prepare for an exam. Students will be practising day and night repeatedly and spending extra efforts to join a song smoothly, making it perfect for performance in front of the examiner. Therefore a good teacher should be kept updated of the current syllabus and know what an examiner is looking for during an exam.
It will be disastrous and a nightmare for a student to know that what they have been preparing for is actually outdated if the teacher doesn’t spend enough effort to check and do his job properly. Even though a teacher is a master of his skill subject, it is very important to upgrade themselves by wanting to improve more!
A good teacher will never stay at the same spot saying they are the best but will instead strive for better excellence so that they can guide their students and motivate them to achieve higher standards.
3. He has a patience and approachable character
Younger children will need a more patient and friendly teacher as they are in the stages of building musical interest. They need a teacher who is someone who can make the lessons interesting, able to sing and dance along with them. Telling stories and interacting with them helps them to build a good student-teacher bond and also they will practice by themselves without their parents urging, hopefully.
The wrong teacher might kill their interest! All students look forward to having an approachable teacher who they can ask questions freely whenever they have any doubts in their subject, during or after the lessons. Teachers and students will form a good and strong relationship, therefore students should feel easy to approach a teacher if they have any questions.
4. He takes pride in his job and goes the extra mile
A good teacher doesn’t just work during the 45-min or 60-min lesson time. He has to source and prepare weekly materials that are suitable for his students' level. He has to plan and keep track of exam dates so that he can prepare his students to aim for the upcoming exam sessions.
Out of work, time is required to design and create new games and activities for the younger children by doing some arts and crafts. Buying books for students are ways to show that a teacher care for his students and it’s a service he offers. A good piano teacher will not ask his students to source for their own learning materials.
A teacher who organises regular concerts, talks, seminars are worth the praise. He takes an extra effort to look for a location, where there is a piano for students to perform and gain experience on stage and build their confidence. He has to come up with song lists, slides, gather information on the number of people who are participating, prepare gifts, certificates, trophies for his students but it will be worth it because when he sees his students on stage, he sees results of his own teaching and the students' efforts as well.
5. He makes sure their students understand
A good teacher makes sure that his student understands the materials that are taught during the lesson. At the end of the lesson, he checks with the student if he has any questions about today’s class and if there is, he clears the doubts. This is very important because if the student doesn’t understand what have been taught during the lesson, he won’t be able to apply it in his homework. At the end of every lesson, the student should be clear of what he is taught for the day.
6. He is punctual and focused during the lesson
Good teachers will seldom arrive too late from their stated lesson time. If they are travelling to the student’s place, a little time allowance should be given taking into account the traffic conditions.
Being focused during the lesson means distractions are minimised, and the learning environment should be clean and quiet. Good teachers will never use the student’s lesson time to check answers or ask the students to look for the answer for a long period of time and keep them waiting, time should be well managed to ensure students are learning, not waiting. They will check their student’s answers as homework. Just imagine a 45-min lesson with the teacher checking the answers for 1/2 an hour. What will they get to learn for the rest of the remaining time?
7. He doesn’t hesitate to keep in contact with the parents
A good teacher will take the initiative to call parents or message them about their child’s progress. Whenever the teacher feels that the child is ready for an exam or for something new, he will reach out to the parents and work with them closely to ensure a child is progressing in the right direction. He will organise seminars, talks, concerts, events to help students learn more and participate with their parents so that parents can better understand what is going on during or after lessons.
8. Lastly, it will be a bonus if a piano teacher has a knowledge of multiple instruments and is exposed to different genres of music.
Students will widely benefit from the lessons provided by such a teacher as he can clearly explain and demonstrate different talents during lessons. For example, by teaching a mixture of pop and classical, the students would not get bored of the long and repetitive song of the same musical period but also have a chance to be exposed to nice and famous pop melodies which are often very well received by the young and old. Thus, they get more interested and look forward to future lessons and practice time.