Tips On What To Look For In A Great Violin Teacher

Tips on the search:
1. If the teacher offers a free lesson, take it. This is a fantastic opportunity to meet the teacher, find out about their teaching style, and discuss any goals you may have.
2. Get referrals. Usually the best are from former or current students. Try to speak directly to both the parent and student if possible. Each has their own perspective of how the teacher teaches.
3. Obviously we are all limited by our income. However, don’t dismiss the teacher because of high rates. Usually higher rates mean a higher quality teacher. Lower rates mean a less-experienced teacher. But this is not always the case.
4. Find out about their qualifications. It is important that the teacher has been educated. But you also need to keep in mind that the best educated aren’t necessarily the best teachers.
5. See about going to a recital the teacher is putting on. Watching their students perform is a great indicator of their teaching success.

What To Look For In Your Current Teacher

1. Technique is important. The teacher needs to have a strong foundation in this so they can share it with you. The teacher needs to reinforce good habits so the student does not develop bad habits that would hinder their later development.
2. You should feel motivated to play for the teacher. You don’t want to feel like you are not learning anything. You also don’t want to feel that you are being rushed so that you might be missing something.
3. Improvement is something to look for. You will struggle with new techniques you learn. However, as you learn harder pieces, you should go back and play your older pieces. You should see that the technique is easier than when you were learning it.

Another thing to consider is how long to stay with a teacher. From my own experience, you should stay with a good teacher for 4-6 years. From this time period you should be able to learn all your teacher can pass on to you. After that, they may run out of theories and methods to teach you. And changing violin teachers every few years will give you more insight and fuller perspective for your playing. You will also get other focuses on methods and techniques. Each teacher has their own strength. Some are better soloists, and others are better ensemble players. By learning from several teachers, you can benefit from many outlooks and maybe also see some bad habits you have that previous teachers may not have pointed out.

The violin is an extremely difficult instrument to learn. You cannot judge yourself or your teacher if you don’t sound good right away. As long as you are enjoying it, and your teacher is helping you to overcome the difficult things, and you have a good connection with your teacher then you will improve and enjoy the journey.

Private Teacher VS. Music Schools or Community Centers

I hear lots of different ways to approach this one. I am going off what I have heard from students (my own and others) and my own teaching experience because I never used any of these for my own studies. Each has their positive and negative sides. First I will discuss community music centers.

Pros
1)Their teachers are certified and lots of them perform backgroud checks. You can be assured that your child will be treated fairly. And you have someone else to complain to other than the teacher if you feel something isn't right.
2)Their is usually more than one teacher per instrument so you can choose between several teachers.
3)Most of them offer group classes. I don't recommend this for your usual lesson, but once a month is a fun time to look forward to for your child to interact and play music with other children. If the community center only offers group classes, you should choose another center. For more info on this, see below.

Cons
1)They usually focus on the beginner student. Most advanced students usually move onto a private teacher once they progress to a certain point.
2)They are not as flexible with their schedule. If you miss a lesson, some do not let you make it up, although you still end up paying for it. Most will enforce make up lessons if the teacher missed however.
3)You have to pay for a whole term up front. They vary on lengths of terms. Most seem to go with the school year. Some go month to month though.
4)Some only offer group classes. This is fine if you just want your child to have fun. But if you or your child is serious about playing well this is not a good option. Just like a classroom setting, the teacher does not have time to focus individually on each student. Lots of kids don't learn as much as they could in this setting. And with music, especially the violin (probably one of the hardest instruments to learn) the child needs one on one attention so bad habits are not formed.
5) Most of the time you travel to the teacher to a spot determined by the community music center. The teacher does not have the flexibility to come to you. Although I have taught at some that they only offered a traveling teacher.

Private Teachers
Pros
1)Usually these teachers are very highly trained. The teach at the highest skill level. In fact, college professors are usually the best. They have to be able to perform to be accepted as a professor, and you already know they can teach to be at a university. Not all private teachers are good performers. This is not always bad. But sometimes having a good performer for a teacher really pays off.
2)Some teachers will travel to you.
3)Usually no contracts to sign. If you are unhappy, you are usually free to go at any time.
4)They can be more flexible with payment options, and sometimes with the amount they charge per lesson.
5)Scheduling a make up lesson is usually not too hard.
6)A more casual setting is usually found.
7)The teacher is more flexible to teach their own methods
8)You get to know the teacher more personally. Sometimes this works in your favor. If the student has special needs and the teacher seems to have a good connection, they will usually work with you.

Cons
1)The teacher has not been checked out. This is not always a problem. You can always perform a background check if you want, but you would probably have to pay for it.
2)Not always as much structure
3)If you don't like something, you have no one else to complain to. But as I stated above in the pros, you can usually leave when you want to because there are no contracts.
4)Usually no group classes are offered. But I know of some private teachers that do offer this. It is scheduled a few times a year for all the students to get together and play and have a party.