Would you ask your dentist to perform your open heart surgery? After all, he is a medical professional.
What about getting your neighbour to upgrade the wiring in your entire house? After all, he wired his backyard shed and that went OK.
Would you ask your hair dresser to fix the breaks on your car? After all, she drives and car and knows how breaks work.
The answer to these questions is probably a resounding “NO!”
Yet, when we relate the same question to a music lesson, we find people are answering “YES!” and getting lessons from seemingly knowledgable people and maybe even “professionals”, but not professionals in the field of teaching music.
Here’s what we need to understand. Even though many musicians who play in rock bands are highly qualified to teach, just playing in a rock band does not qualify them to teach music. It’s like getting a dentist (a professional) to do open heart surgery.
Even though many musicians write amazing sounding songs, just writing songs does not qualify them to teach music. It’s like getting someone with a little understanding of wiring to do the job of a licenced electrician.
Even though many musicians can play difficult pieces after hearing them only one time, just being able to play music dos not mean they can teach music. It’s like asking a hair dresser to fix the breaks on my car. She has a basic understanding of how breaks work, but not nearly enough knowledge to do a repair.
What does qualify someone to teach music? This is an important question to ask when you are looking for a piano, voice, guitar or any music teacher.
A qualified teacher will have done some type of music examination.
The most popular examination centre in Canada is the Royal Conservatory of Music. There are several other Conservatories in Canada that are also reputable and carry a high standard of excellence. Teachers who have gone through the examination process have been tested and vetted by nationally accredited institutions and you can rest assured they are knowledgeable teachers. Make sure your teacher has done at least a Level 8 examination in whatever instrument they teach.
A qualified teacher should have post secondary education in their instrument.
A university degree or a post secondary diploma in a teacher’s main instrument will ensure that person has studied in depth all aspects of music from performance, to theory, to technique, to style, and more. University music programs are rigourous and comprehensive and prepare an individual to be a well rounded teacher.
A qualified teacher should belong to a professional organization.
The Ontario Registered Music Teacher’s Association is a professional organization that accepts only teachers who have a post-secondary degree in music and proof of teaching experience. If your teacher belongs to ORMTA, you can rest assured they have met the requirements to be an exceptionally qualified teacher.
Who would you choose? The person who simply sounds or looks capable of the job, or the professional who has the exact qualifications and experience for the job? Remember, you wouldn’t have a dentist do open heart surgery! The choice is really quite simple :).