Is a qualification important in a music teacher? I believe so. Is it THE most important thing in a music teacher? Not necessarily… BUT, it’s definitely near the top of the list.
The question is what makes a teacher qualified? This could vary depending on the situation. Some would say that only a University Degree and years and years of study would make a qualified music teacher. Others would insist on the highest Conservatory training possible. Others say simply have a few years of lessons is enough. For our purposes at J. Brooks Academy of Music, we define a qualified teacher as someone who has achieved a minimum Grade 8 RCM certificate or the equivalent.
Being able to play amazing sounding piano pieces simply by ear with no note reading capability would not necessarily qualify one to teach. Believe it or not, I’ve met such teachers personally. Being able to play riffs and chords on a guitar with no note reading knowledge does not make someone a qualified teacher. A qualification must meet a standard, and that’s why J. Brooks Academy has chosen the standard of a Grade 8 certificate.
A qualification can be a subjective thing. You may or may not agree with my assessment of a qualification, but here are some reasons why I think it’s very important to have a qualified teacher.
Qualified teachers are well-rounded.
Typically a qualified teacher is skilled in several different areas of music. They aren’t limited to one style, genre, or way of teaching. They can teach classical, jazz, pop, blues, and more. Often they play more than one instrument, or at least have experience in several instruments. They understand not just the playing and performing side of music, but they also have a good knowledge of music history, harmony, theory, technique, ear training, analysis, and more. Basically, they know a lot, and if there’s a question or problem a student has that they don’t have a solution to, they know where to find it.
Qualified teachers have a good network of resources
Most qualified teachers spent time in University, College, or with several different private teachers. That means they have relationships and connections that they can fall back on when teaching. Each person they’ve spent time with will have given them different resources to tap into. This can be a huge advantage to a student when it comes to dealing with certain challenges that arise in their music. I know that I personally have called on the expertise of my many teaching colleagues to help with a question I or one of my students had.
Qualified teachers typically take steps to stay ahead of the game
Qualified teachers understand the importance of continuing education. They attend professional development seminars. They spend hours online searching the music world for teaching tips, new resources, and other ideas they can incorporate into their lessons. They were taught to be innovative and embrace positive changes.
Qualified teachers worked hard for what they have
Someone who has an ARCT or University Degree has spent many, many, MANY hours practicing, studying, working, researching, and more! Not to mention the years and years of private lessons the put in as a child to prepare for that post-secondary education. These people are hard workers. They are dedicated. They aren’t afraid to invest time and money into being at the top of their profession.
Qualified teachers have experience
If a music teacher is qualified, they are going to get students. Students means experience, and experience means a better teacher. Many qualified teachers began teaching much like I did. They started with a beginner student under the mentorship of their own teacher. That meant as they were learning, they were putting what they learned to practical use right away.
When looking for a music teacher, do not hesitate to ask what qualification they have! You need to know if you are receiving the best education possible.