Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Finding the Right Violin Teacher, Viola Teacher, or Cello Teacher

Written by Amy Tobin

When you, or your child, have decided to start playing the violin, viola, or cello, one of the most important things you can do, other than get a good quality instrument (see our violin tone post), is to find a good teacher.

A good teacher can be the difference between creating a lifelong love of music or making the learning process a chore, so it is definitely worthwhile to do a little research before making a decision.

There are a lot of ways to learn the violin (or viola, or cello).
As a young player, you might be learning how to play through a school program. Group situations can be wonderful for younger players. There are other players your age to relate to, and, with an instrument that can be a bit intimidating, there can be a feeling of 'safety in numbers,' allowing you to play a little more courageously. Plus, one of the main reasons to get started in a group setting is because it's fun! There is less pressure and more of a sense of being part of a team.

As you get more familiar with the instrument, or if you are a little bit older or more serious, you will benefit much more from private lessons. In a private lesson, you can get a lot more focused attention and can progress much more quickly than in a group.

So how do you find that perfect teacher? Well, the main thing to do is to ask around. Do you know some other people who are taking lessons, doing well, and enjoying themselves? Ask who their teacher is. Contact your local violin shops to see if they have any recommendations. This is actually a great way to start since most shops will only have a list of teachers that they feel comfortable sending prospective students to. You can also contact your local music schools, small and large, and see who they have and can recommend.

Once you compile a list of possibilities, give them a call and talk to them! Find out how long they have played, where they have studied, if they play professionally or how long they have been teaching. A good teacher will not always fit a specific mold, so don't be intimidated by someone who has a PhD after their name, and don't necessarily discount someone who hasn't majored in music in college.

If you like what you hear when you talk to a teacher, go ahead and schedule a lesson. After all, the only way to really know if you are going to mesh well with a certain person is by getting together with them. Expect to pay for this first lesson, even though you are still just checking them out. A good teacher will usually be happy to have you take a trial lesson before signing on for a longer commitment (if not, definitely look elsewhere!). When that lesson is over, go home and think about it. Did you feel like you learned something? Was the process enjoyable? Did the teacher seem to have the knowledge to securely guide you on your way with learning? And, most importantly, did you get along well?

There is one thing that is incredibly important to remember in all of this. That is, listen to your gut, particularly when you are looking for a teacher for a young student! Remember that, especially in the case of younger players, that teacher is going to be a major part of their life each week. You want to make sure that that person shares your ideas and values regarding how your child should learn, listens to any concerns you might have, and interacts with your child positively. If you feel at all unsure or uneasy about this, go to someone else, plain and simple.

Learning an instrument is a wonderful thing that can prepare a person for a lifetime of enjoyable opportunities! The lessons learned - discipline, diligence, and follow-through - can translate beautifully to almost all areas of life, and can make all the difference in the world. It is worth it to make sure that you take your time and find the teacher who will be the best fit for you or your child!

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