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By Joel Kennedy
Where do I find a suitable instructor for my child? Once parents decide that they want their children to learn a stringed instrument, they are immediately faced with this often challenging question. For most parents, it's very difficult to know where to start. Instinctively, most parents realize that starting off on the right foot is very important for future development, so they do their best to find a teacher who will not only show them proper technique but also instill a joy for music that will last for the rest of their lives.
These days, most people will go to the computer and do a Google search in their local area. After perusing the bios of teachers that have their own studios or work out of a large music store, one trait becomes clear. Everybody is an expert and they all have an abundance of awards and testimonials concerning their education, performance history and love of teaching. How do you pick from one or the other? Which teacher's self documented accolade is more trustworthy?
Personally, I've been playing the viola for over 30 years and 16 of those as an instructor. I have several gold lettered pieces of paper (in a closet somewhere) that list my performance pedigree and pedagogical certification, but do they really prove anything? To believe that everybody that graduates from a certain school or has played in many differing performance venues is going to have an equal ability to engage your child in a meaningful way is of course, ludicrous. So how do you know that I or anybody else with the same background is going to be the best fit for your child?
Most Kennedy Violins customers know that we are comprised of string players and that the majority of us are violin instructors, so they ask us fairly often how to find a good teacher for their child who is just beginning. Because of the amount of times I've fielded this question, I've been able to distill the filtration process, into 2 basic criteria that you can use to weed out the less desirable instructors.
After you have found a teacher that you think may work, you will want to have a preliminary lesson, to find out if the teacher is a good fit. Often the better teachers will not only be more expensive and have a waiting list, but will want to "audition" YOU and your child as well. They will not accept certain students who may display an obvious disdain for learning or have parents who simply want a hour of alone time at the local mall while their child is babysat. If your child is progressing well after 10 lessons or so, you have probably found a suitable match. If your child is stuck on the same primary piece for several weeks or is locking themselves in their rooms to prevent themselves from going to a lesson, then it may not be a good fit.
The majority of parents do not start music lessons with the idea that they want their children to become professional players. Most, just want to expose their children to the world of music and gain all of the cognitive benefits that learning an instrument like the violin have to offer. Whatever your goals are for your child, one thing is for certain. It's not possible for you to know the future and to what extent your child may want to pursue music. The best thing you can do, is find a teacher that will ultimately assist your child into reaching their full potential with proper technique and efficient practice habits. If your child develops a deep love of music and the ability to express it, then you have done your part in giving a gift to your child that is truly priceless. It's been said that nobody regrets being a good person on their deathbed. Well, nobody regrets being a great violinist either!