Finding the right teacher!

Identify your goals:

Does your child play for fun?

Does your child play to win competitions?

Does your child want to take exams?

Does your child play to have something ‘extra’ on their college resume?

Does your child want lessons – or does the parent want the child to have lessons?

Talk to other parents/students who study with the prospective teacher.

The new teacher should be willing to supply some contact numbers.

Make an appointment to meet the potential new teacher.

Sarah and Heather after our 3 student recitals, Spring 2014

Ask questions. Have your child play (if appropriate). Do not make a decision at the meeting. Talk it over with your child at home. ‘Chemistry’ is an important factor in student/teacher relationships – the teacher’s manner, appearance, and what the studio looks like are all important factors.


Do you want lessons in your own home?

Is your piano in good playing order and tuned twice a year?

Do you want lessons in the teacher’s studio?

What would the drive time be at the time of day you would be driving?

What would the drive time be at the time of day you would be driving?

Is there a waiting area:

a – for the student?

b – for parents and siblings?

Tuition fees:

What is the cost?

Is it payable per month, per week, per year?

Does the teacher teach throughout the summer?

Are there refunds for lessons missed by the student?

Is there a registration fee?

Is the teacher or the student responsible for purchasing the music?

Teacher Qualifications:

Spring concert, 2014

If you wish to take Certificate of Merit exams, the teacher must be a member of the Music Teachers’ Association of California. All MTAC members must have graduated in music and must comply with the regulations as set down by the Association: 'a professional teacher adheres to the code of ethics, maintains professional standards, is aware of the responsibility to give the best possible teaching service and pursues refresher courses at periodic intervals.'

If the student wishes to be evaluated for Piano Guild the teacher must be a member of the National Guild of Piano teachers


How much practicing does the teacher expect of the student?

The new teacher may want to discuss a prospective student with the former teacher

Does the teacher give assessment grades each quarter and discuss the student’s progress with a parent?

What does the teacher see as being the parental role? Does the teacher want/expect the parent to be present during the lesson? What (if any) assistance is the parent expected to give during practice times at home?

Overall ...

Be patient – finding the right teacher takes time. It will require phone calls and interviews, but I believe that it’s truly worth every minute of the search.

This brief outline does not broach the subject of the various teaching styles, methods and techniques that individual teachers employ in their studios. It is intended only as a guide to areas that are sometimes overlooked in the search for a new teacher.

© Heather Morris 2006