Criteria to Consider When Evaluating Private Music Lessons for Your Child
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Criteria to Consider When Evaluating Private Music Lessons for Your Child

Piano studentInvolving your child with music has been shown to provide them many benefits over the course of their life, with the sheer joy of participation being (we hope!) very near the top. 

While the goals for participation and instruction will vary from family to family, it is a good idea to have a general process to assist you in evaluating the many different options available for private music lessons including: private studios, schools, in-home instructors, and value-added opportunities like ensembles and performance activities. 

Choosing the right school and instructor for your child can be a highly personal decision, so the evaluative criteria will certainly vary. Our goal with this blog is to cover some of what we consider to be the most important steps in the process. It is not intended to be all-encompassing, but rather a general guideline for use by families that may be unsure of where to start. 

Goals

Before you begin the search process, we suggest that you define your objectives and desired outcomesand what your expectations are. This will probably vary based on the age of your child, but knowing what you want up-front is important. It is also important to have an idea of the type of teacher qualifications that are acceptable. Knowing what is minimally acceptable to you will also help as you conduct your evaluations. Not sure? No worries; we cover that in more detail, below.

Violin students

Fact-finding

There are many questions to consider as you determine who is best suited to instruct your child, and where lessons should take place.  Some of the most important questions to ask, in our opinion, are:

Instructor 

  • What is their experience level?
  • What was the primary instrument they studied in school?
  • What are their credentials and background?
  • Does the instructor actively perform, themselves?
  •  Does the instructor have any specific certifications?
  • Are references available?
  • What is the instructor’s philosophy or style?
  • How is the student evaluated for progress, and how frequently?
  • What is the role of the parent?
  • What amount of practice time is expected?

School

  • What is the culture of the school or organization like?
  • Does the school have a formal mission or values statement?
  • What is the reputation of the school?
  • Is the school accredited?
  • What are the performance opportunities at the school?
  • Is there an “initial” or “trial” lesson to ensure a good fit with the instructor?
  • What are the opportunities for collaboration and exposure to other students  at the school?
  • Does this school have a level of professionalism that is suitable to you as a parent?

Christopher Rizzio, Private Lesson Coordinator at The Hartt School Community Division, is the initial point of contact when inquiring about private lessons. He says that questions are a good thingand welcome.

"Choosing a teacher is an important, nuanced, and highly individualized process. I recommend knowing  your goals for private instruction, both for the student and the family," says Rizzio. "Instruction can be tailored to individual students and families, but you’ll need to find a teacher who is willing to adapt and guide the student toward their desired outcome. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, making sure expectations are clear upfront is critical to the success of instruction."

"Once your questions are answered, you should feel confident that you have done due diligence in making the best possible decision about music instruction for your child.  From there, make sure you and your child are prepared each week, make sure that you practice, and most importantly, that you have fun!"