Finding a Teacher:

This is even more important than choosing an instrument! A good teacher will be able to help and advise about choosing and finding an instrument. Usually, your first port of call will be your school or the County Music Service – but bear in mind that, as your child progresses to a more advanced level, they may need individual lessons with a specialist teacher and the school or County Music Service may be unable to provide this.

Qualifications:

There are numerous qualifications available to music teachers, proving their playing ability or teaching quality. These are usually a good initial indicator of the level of the teacher. However, whilst teaching ability and technical ability are good indicators, musical prowess, knowledge and experience can often be just as important. It is also desirable that the teacher is (or at least has been) capable of performing at a high level. These are just some of the qualifications a teacher may have:

  • Dip ABRSM, LRSM, FRSM - Qualifications from Examinations Board.
  • LRAM, ARCM, FRCM, LTCL, ATCL, AGSM, LGSM, ARNCM, GRNCM (etc.) - Diplomas from music colleges (more examples from college websites).
  • BA, BMus, MMus, DMus - Degree (from university).
  • PGCE - Postgraduate teaching qualification.
  • QTS - Qualified Teacher Status (will have a number from Dept of Education).
  • CRB/DBS check - Certificate showing they have been cleared by the criminal records bureau (Pre-2015) or the Disclosure and Barring Service.

Some teachers may also have undergone training in child protection. Some will have qualifications in specialised teaching methods (e.g. Suzuki, Dalcrose, Orff, Kodaly). They may be a member of a teaching union – ISM (Incorporated Society of Musicians – which requires evidence of a high level of musical accomplishment), MMA (Music Masters Association) or MU (Musicians’ Union). This means they will have liability insurance and access to professional advice. They may also be a member of a professional teaching body, e.g. ESTA (European String Teachers Association), or FIPMT (Institute of Professional Music Teachers).

Choosing an instrument:

Click here to read our full guide on choosing an instrument

At beginner levels, the same teacher may well teach several instruments from one family (see table). As your child progresses you may need to consider moving to a teacher who has specialised in the exact instrument. It is useful for the teacher to be able to demonstrate good technique and a good sound on the instrument your child is learning. Sometimes there can be problems later on that date back to a teacher working outside their speciality (e.g. a woodwind player teaching brass).

Type (family) Instruments included
Strings Violin, Viola, Cello, Double Bass
Woodwind Flute, (Piccolo), Oboe, (Cor Anglais), Clarinet, Bassoon, Recorder, Saxophone.
Brass Horn (French Horn), Trumpet/Cornet, Trombone, Tuba, Euphonium etc.
Percussion Timpani, Side-Drum, Xylophone (and many more, including drum kit)
Keyboard Piano, Organ, Harpsichord (also Electric Piano & Keyboard)
Guitar Classical (also acoustic, electric, bass, ukulele etc.)
Voice  
Other specialities Harp, Accordion, Music Theory, Composition, Conducting

Experience & References:

If a teacher has a passion for their instrument it is likely they will be playing it on a regular basis. Whilst we would expect teachers to be (or to have been) expert performers, it is also important to realise that a good performer on an instrument is not necessarily a good teacher (especially with beginners). When looking into a teacher you can ask them about:

  • Teaching Experience: How many pupils they have, how long they have been teaching, where they teach and have taught previously.
  • Performing Experience: Have they played in and do they perform as soloists, with orchestras, in chamber groups (e.g. string quartets) or in bands or other types of ensemble.

It is also considered reasonable to ask the teacher to give you contact details of a present or recent employer or the parents of another pupil.

Costs of learning:

Charges for beginners will normally be between £25 and £35 per hour. Most beginner lessons last 20 minutes (common in school) or 30 minutes, so this will be around £10 -£18 per lesson.

Group lessons are often available in school. Where these are provided by the County Music Service (the most common provider) they cost around £6.50 per child for 3 or 4 children, with 30% discounts for parents on Working Tax Credit and free group lessons for children receiving free school meals.

It is often possible to arrange for two or more children to learn together with a private teacher, which will reduce but may not halve the cost. As all learners progress at different speeds they are likely to move onto individual lessons in the future.

Most teachers work only in term time, but some will provide additional lessons in school holidays to keep the momentum going.

Administration:

You should be able to communicate well with the teacher, especially for younger pupils. Some teachers are happy for parents to sit in for lessons, but some find that this adversely affects the child. If you are not attending lessons, allow time at the end of some lessons to discuss what has been covered, how the child is progressing and what practice is necessary. Teachers may use notebooks to record information for the child, and some teachers write reports, although this is not usually necessary if there is regular contact with parents/carers.

Teachers will invoice you, often half-termly in advance, and may issue a receipt. If you have a regular slot for a lesson, and are unable to attend, the cost of the lesson will not normally be reimbursed, as the teacher will not be able to fill it with another pupil. Some teachers are willing to swap lessons or fit an extra lesson in, but this is not always possible.

Trial Lesson:

Maybe the most important factor in choosing a teacher is that they get on well with your child. It is accepted practice to have a trial lesson (which you would usually pay for) with no obligation on either side. This should be used to indicate whether the child and teacher can get on, on a personal basis, and that the practical arrangements will work. Once you are committed to lessons it is usual to give half a term’s notice if you wish to stop them.

If the teacher has frequent professional engagements (which may well be at irregular times) they might need to rearrange or cancel lessons, which can affect continuity. However having a teacher who is actively performing is often a good indication of the calibre and enthusiasm of the teacher. It may also mean that they are prepared to be more flexible when it comes to re-arranging lessons.

Where and when

There are a few normal times to deliver lessons, and these are detailed in the table below. There is no "right" or "wrong" way to pick this, both the way a child learns and the availability of teachers will influence the decision making process

Location/Time Advantages Disadvantages
In school time No transport issues, may learn in a group (cheaper, more sociable). May miss school lessons, less or no choice of teacher, no direct contact for parents with teacher, may learn in a group (less individual attention from teacher).
In school after hours May learn in a group (cheaper, more sociable).. May conflict with other activities, no choice of teacher, no direct contact for parents with teacher, may learn in a group (less individual attention from teacher).
At your house No transport issues, you can choose the teacher, you get to know the teacher, you can arrange to have lessons at weekend and during school holidays, children learn in a comfortable environment. You will need to provide a suitable space in which to have lessons..
At the teacher’s house Teacher has arranged facilities best suited to their teaching style, you can choose the teacher, you get to know the teacher, you can arrange to have lessons at weekends and during school holidays. Travel to and from the lesson: parent spends time in lessons or waiting.
Online (Via Skype ect) No travel time, Can schedule lessons at any time and from any location Requires purchase of high quality microphone/webcam, Teacher cannot physically demonstrate techniques to students, technical difficulties can cause delays/cancelled lessons, bad for beginners, limited value for any pupil, not recommended.

Find a Teacher Online (RYMN Teacher Database):

Click here to visit the RYMN Teacher Database

There are several websites where teachers advertise their services – the most commonly used is www.musicteachers.co.uk – which also gives a fair amount of useful advice. However, this site (and most others) will have a disclaimer similar to ours below.

Disclaimer:

We have no control over the teachers listed on this site. We have designed it to give as much information as possible but we are not responsible for the accuracy of the content – this is entered by the teachers themselves.
If we find any inaccurate or misleading information we will, of course, delete the entry – but we cannot take responsibility for vetting every teacher and their presence on this site is no guarantee of their quality.