The Parents’ Perspective: Now What?

This is the second installment of our Parents’ Perspective blog series, which is meant to share information, hints, and knowledge about raising musical kids. You can read the first blog about musical beginnings here.

Today’s topic: Your kid wants to study an instrument – now what? Our parent panel gives some tips on finding music teachers.

Word of mouth can be a very powerful tool!

Gabriel Cabezas, 2007

Emmanuel Cabezas remembers, “After Gabriel went through most of the Suzuki program, his teacher suggested a traditional teacher who also performed with a symphony orchestra.  Once Gabriel studied with him for a couple of years, he in turn suggested another teacher from a university.”

Roberta McGuire says, “Word of mouth referrals from trusted and respected sources can help shorten the time in finding what you are looking for. When shopping around for an instrument, you should ask your teacher to help out with the assessment of each so that you get the instrument that best fits your child at that given point in time.”

Barbara Nakazawa advises, “School band and orchestra teachers tend to know the better private instrumental teachers so they are a great source.”

Use the Internet!

The Internet has made it possible for us all to see what is available in music stores, music schools for classes, teachers, sheet music and music related supplies.”  – Roberta McGuire

Some online resources you may find helpful:

MTNA – Music Teachers National Association

NAMM – National Association of Music Merchants

NAMM Foundation: Best Communities for Music Education

MENC – The National Association for Music Education

National Guild for Community Arts Education

*Many states have music teacher associations. Try a Google search with your state or city + music teachers.

Additional Words of Advice:

From Barbara Nakazawa:

“Finding the right teacher for your child is very important. It’s not only the material that is taught and technique, it has to be the right personality match. Most teachers offer a trial lesson.  A good teacher should be able to direct their student to the appropriate orchestra/band auditions and help with suggestions for instruments, supplies, etc.”

From Roberta McGuire:

“You don’t want to swap [teachers] a lot because it would disrupt the continuity in learning. The other key element in the teacher search process (when you are switching from one teacher to another) is to be honest with your wish to make a change.  No one appreciates being blind sighted and a burnt bridge can never be a helpful one in the future!  Honesty is always the best policy!”

If your child’s school has an orchestra or a band program, encourage them to join up. Through that experience, they will start to make friends with other like-minded students and you will start to build a network of musical friends to connect with.

Scales:  They do matter! Nobody likes to play their scales, but they do help with ear training, so one way to get your scales into your practice routine is to start with your scales! Your sound quality will improve and your teacher will love you for it!

From Naomi Aldort:

“We parents are gullible when it comes to talent. We tend to live our own dreams of glory through our children. Unfortunately children sense it and will go on the path of our dream, missing their own, if we are not careful. They will look happy and we will be fooled to think that they love the lessons, when what they really love is to please us and be the sunshine of our dreams. Eventually this becomes old and the child’s search for herself collides with her need to please her parents or other adults. Depression is one of the most common results of such inner confusion.

Oliver Aldort on From the Top, 2005

Therefore, I often recommend offering music education to a child without formal lessons.  Not offering lessons does not meant not nurturing the child’s talent. On the contrary, when not relying on a weekly teacher to do the job, you take more responsibility and the child learns a whole lot more. I offered such “home lessons” to my children, and by the time they started to study with teachers, they were already reading notes and skillful with the fundamentals of rhythms, tonality, chords, and feeling the music. They were also freely improvising and totally passionate about music. Instead of a weekly or bi-weekly lessons, their musical learning occurred a few times per day, every day of the week. I avoided praise so their love of music stayed authentic and not confused with pleasing me.”

Naomi Aldort is the author of, Raising Our Children, Raising Ourselves and the mother of two musicians. Her advice columns are published in progressive parenting magazines worldwide. Aldort offers guidance and counseling by phone/Skype internationally regarding all ages, babies through teens: attachment parenting; natural learning; peaceful and powerful parent-child relationships and more. Products, counseling, and free newsletter:

Please feel free to comment below with questions or your own personal stories! We’d love to hear from you.