Picture yourself interviewing an employee. You have a company, and you want to hire someone. What questions would you ask them? Think of it the same way, when hiring a piano teacher.
A good place to find a teacher is through friends and family that have had a great experience with someone. Another way, is to look online. If your teacher is involved with the Royal Conservatory Music Development Program or with their local music teachers association, you can already tell that they are serious about what they are doing. When you see a teacher that looks like a plausible candidate, see if you can have a free interview lesson with the teacher, so you can figure out if that teacher is good with your child. Performance experience on the teacher’s part helps, but they not be able to connect with you or your child.
Professionalism in a teacher means FUN for the student
I tell my students, “You are in a private lesson. That means that you can progress as fast as you want. There won’t be anyone else holding you back.” My students tell me they love their lessons, but we also work hard. Fun doesn’t mean slacking off and doing a bad job. Fun means that you are learning something new, at a high level (so that everyone enjoys what you are doing) and yet, are having fun and your teacher is having fun too! Basketball, for example. My daughter was on a team that worked VERY HARD. But, they also had lots of fun, and then even more fun when they were the top team in the Mill Creek Basketball league. They won most of their games.
Another way you could look for a piano teacher could be based on cost. If you base your search on that, it’s like trying to buy a really cheap car. It may not work for very long and may not get you to where you want to go. Not having the right teacher may also cause the student to drop sooner than they would have, if they were challenged, and kept to a high standard.
Also, technique, how it’s taught from the very beginning is very important. You want good habits right from the start. Does your teacher ONLY teach from the method book, or does he/she add some more tips on top of that, or have their own curriculum? Do they know a lot of different resources? This is another consideration. Do they loan out books? I like to do some fun technical exercises up and down the piano, flash cards, rhythm claps, and use music software to help the student learn to read music. When they go home, they have a variety of things to work on so they don’t get bored, like reading a line of music, clapping some rhythms, some ear training, and as they get more advanced, learn some things via Youtube by ear. If you want a more jazzy based piano curriculum, say so at the first lesson. Some teachers are strictly classical, some are strictly jazz, and some do all.
Music Teacher Certification (NCTM) helps you determine whether or not your potential teacher is really qualified to teach, at a certain musical standard. Another clue to finding out how good the teacher is, is how do the students in the studio SOUND? Are some of them playing in such a way that you want your child to play? Ask to sit in on one of their student recitals.
I’ve also had the unfortunate experience of having students come to me from other teachers that have studied 5-6 years and are still elementary level and missing a lot of beginning elements. Paying a little more for a teacher, and making sure consistent practice starts RIGHT AT THE GET-GO will benefit your student in the long run. Try to have your student develop the happy habit of making music every day.
Remember, getting a music education for the teacher took a lot of years of hard work, - often more education than a medical doctor - and good teachers are always continuing their education.