How do you go about choosing the right music teacher for your child? It’s all about connection, explains Miranda Rocca.
Music is a language that we can all speak. It exhilarates, calms, excites, and comforts. It can move you to tears, allow you to express feelings when words aren’t enough, and even provide refuge.
A good teacher is key
Finding a teacher who can unlock the door to your child’s music is the key to a lifetime of musical experiences which will be unique to your child and rich in soul food.
Jump start your child's love of music
Take the first step by becoming your child’s first music teacher. Surround your child with music. Sing, dance, celebrate, and feel music together. Soothe your child to sleep with your own voice. Delight in the wonder of sharing music.
Encourage music with preschool classes
If you can, take your child to preschool music classes. Most incorporate traditional childhood and nursery songs (you’ll remember them as soon as you hear them!), as well as more contemporary ones. Preschool and pre-instrumental music programmes designed by music educationalists are especially powerful, as they are designed with movement and sound exploration incorporated. These develop general musicality and provide a firm foundation for instrumental learning later on.
Introduce an instrument when they are ready
Don’t start your child on an instrument too soon. When your child is ready (my personal recommendation is sometime in Year 3 at school – around seven years of age), allow them to choose the instrument they wish to learn, and then find a music teacher.
Make sure the teacher is the right fit
Allow time to find the right person for this role. Recognise that each child and each teacher is different so the first one you find might not be the "right fit".
Your friends, your favourite babysitter, your extended family, or your tennis or soccer coach may know of a music teacher. If you are fortunate to have a music provider with a great reputation at your school, the search for a music teacher may be a very simple process!
Engagement is important
In the early stages, it’s all about engagement. Find someone who is a good communicator (relative to the student’s level) and can explain things in child-friendly language. A person who can bring fun, motivation, and is child-focussed will unlock the music in no time. Motivation can come from a common interest sometimes completely unrelated to music e.g. skateboarding, Harry Potter, gaming, or even spiders can be a huge motivation to go to music class each week! The key is finding someone who "speaks" music and with whom your child looks forward to spending time with each week.
Meet your child's teacher properly
Take time to meet your child’s teacher. This is a partnership particularly in the early years: between you, your child, and the teacher, so when you meet, discuss expectations – yours, your child’s, and the teacher’s – talk about other interests outside of music that your child may have, and be transparent with other relevant information, such as learning challenges.
Your child will potentially be spending half an hour, once a week, for the next six years with their music teacher. In some cases, the relationship will last even longer. This person will have significant influence on your child’s musical experience, so spend time finding the right teacher and nurture this relationship. As JK Rowling wrote, "Ah, music. A magic beyond all we do here." A great music teacher will help your child feel the magic of music!
Miranda Rocca is the manager of Lewis Eady Music School, as well as a pianist and a mother of four young musicians.
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