In every industry, there are professionals with different qualifications and work experience, and for any level of professionalism there is usually an appropriate type of a job: from easier and less paid to more complicated and well paid. Musicians come with different skill sets too as they can work in vastly different environments. Where do music educators fall on this scale? More importantly, how can you tell if a piano teacher is qualified?
Let’s start with a definitive statement: a musician must achieve a very high level of playing their instrument in order to teach it well. There is absolutely no getting around this simple requirement!
Your piano teacher might not be able to play a virtuoso piece on the spot at any given moment, but at some point in their life they should have been able to.
A parent once said to us when looking for a piano teacher for an 8 year old “We don’t actually need anyone who is good since this is just for a young beginner.” Well, the truth is the opposite: it is important for a piano teacher to be excellent at their instrument even if their student is a very young child!
Why? As we mentioned in our recent article, Can I learn to play piano from YouTube tutorials? – a very essential part of learning any instrument or voice is good technique! This doesn’t only mean being able to play fast but rather feeling comfortable while playing. Believe it or not but you can seriously injure your hands if you constantly practice with bad habits.
A music instructor who knows their instrument inside and out will be able to teach a student of any age and level how play with proper technique from the start and the student will be progressing at an incredibly fast speed.
It is unfortunately very easy to play piano or violin or to sing, for example, in a totally wrong way. Same goes for note reading and other aspects of music theory. An instructor who is a great player themselves would prevent that from happening.
How can you tell if your piano teacher is a great player and expert? It’s more than likely that they have taken MANY music lessons themselves at a higher education institution.
In some very rare cases, self-taught musicians can achieve a very high level of playing but here’s the catch: self-taught musicians have had to figure out everything on their own in an unstructured environment. This is a very specific and personal learning experience without standards and traditions that have been proven to work for centuries. In these situations, it is nearly impossible to successfully pass along these skills to another student.
Musicians who go through proper education, on the other hand, learn from the knowledge created by countless amazing musicians of the past. It took centuries for the great musical minds to work out the systems of playing, learning, and teaching each instrument. This is the knowledge that has been proven to be useful in passing from every generation to the next. As a music student you have to learn this as much as you can, and you can learn it only from an instructor who has the formal college education for music.
And finally, as with everything in life, the more you do something, the better you become at it. This applies to piano teaching! While it is entirely possible for a young piano teacher with no experience to have a natural talent, they too will become better and understand more after years and years of instruction. If you can, choose an piano teacher who is not completely new to teaching!
You can be sure that all of the piano and music teachers at Riverside Music Studio in NYC are highly qualified, experts at their instruments, and have experience teaching music!