1. If you are arranging a lesson for yourself or
for a child, take all the same precautions that you would normally observe when
meeting any stranger. The first step should always be a telephone call where
you make a straightforward assessment of the prospective teacher. Don't be afraid
to ask the following questions:
How many pupils do you teach at the moment
and would you mind if I spoke to them about the service that you offer?
How long have you been teaching? Do you have
a referee for your services that you could suggest?
If you were to teach my child, may I attend
the lessons? OR May I bring a friend with me to my lessons?
Do you offer a consultation lesson prior to
any financial arrangements?
2. Make sure that any arrangements you make are made on fair and even terms,
in general it is unlikely that any responsible teacher would object to any of
the questions above. Some teachers may indeed insist on a chaperone to be present
at all times when teaching minors.
3. It's good to talk! We strongly
discourage negotiation with teachers by email and enthusiastically recommend
picking up the telephone. The spoken word is by far the best first step in establishing
confidence on both sides. Don't make arrangements for you, your child or your
money with an individual you only correspond with by email. You will be at risk.
4. Don't be afraid to pursue references and
recommendations since for good teachers, these will only prove helpful
and supportive. You may need to do this after your first consultation
before making any further arrangement. Be completely open about doing
this; no responsible teacher will mind you making such checks.
5. When you finally meet your prospective teacher,
preferably at an obligation-free consultation, be clear about what service you
need and direct the consultation so that your questions are answered. Music
tuition is often a long-term commitment and a good teacher-pupil relationship
is so valuable and so fruitful that a little care and attention in making a
good decision is well worthwhile.
6. To get a fuller picture of the style of tuition
offered, you might ask some of the following questions:
What is your approach to instrumental technique?
What repertoire do you encourage your pupils
to study and why?
How do you teach theory?
Do you prepare your pupils for examination,
such as the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music?
How do you teach general musicianship and
How do you develop sight-reading skills in
Do you encourage your pupils to seek regular
opportunities to perform in public, such as in festivals, competitions and
Do you encourage your pupils to play in ensembles?
What do you expect of your pupils?
Do you give progress reports on your pupils?
Do you make notes for your pupils during lessons?
What is your professional background?
What qualifications do you have?
7. Be sure about the service that you want for yourself or your child. Remember
that a teacher will be interested to learn about the full extent of your musical
interests, your aspirations and preparedness to take on the commitment that
learning a musical instrument requires. The more open you are about your expectations
and interests, the more useful the consultation will be.
8. Don't feel obliged to make a decision there and
then. You may need to make more than one approach before you meet the teacher
9. When you do make an financial arrangement with
a teacher, be clear about the fees being charged and how and when they are to
be paid. You should also ask if the teacher has a cancellation policy and who
should be responsible for the purchase of materials and sheet music.
10. If you have arranged tuition for your
child, you should continue to take a close interest in the progress being
made. Make an effort to sit in on lessons regularly enough to be sure
of how tutorial time is spent. It is often very helpful to teachers to
have the opportunity to discuss how your child's skills are developing.
Never leave your child with a relative stranger unless you are
absolutely certain that this is an appropriate arrangement. If
in doubt, sit in on the lesson!