"When can my child start teaching piano?" A parent ask. The short answer: "Your child can teach whenever someone is willing to pay them to do so."
I have been asked this question many times over the years by parents who wants to enroll their child in music lesson, especially those who inquire about the level testing that are offered by organizations such as the Royal School of Music or the Music Teachers Association of California. Some parents have the notion that if their child finishes a certain level, they are ready to teach music. I recall a classic Simpsons episode where Marge tried to be a piano teacher. Even though she couldn't play the piano herself, all she had to do is stay one lesson ahead of the child who's learning. The sad reality is that there are a lot of unqualified music teachers around and parents have no idea what they are getting themselves into.
I must admit when I first began teaching, I was one of those half-qualified teacher who was still a High School student having studied piano all my life. So I taught my first couple of students at the age of 16. Actually I taught a student that my dad found for me for six months when I was 12, but I had to give up because I just wasn't ready to teach. When I took up teaching again, I taught my students the way I was taught. It may sound like the logical thing to do, but later as I studied piano pedagogy (which is the study of the teaching of piano) with a renowned teacher of pedagogy in Northridge, did I realize that the methods that I was taught with is antiquated and much better systems have since emerged.
Without going into too much details on methodologies as that can fill volumes of books, I want to help parents able to pick out a good teacher from a bad teacher here. Here are a few helpful hints:
1. Is your prospective teacher still in High School?
Though I began teaching while I was in High School, knowing what I know now, I cannot recommend any High School students as a qualified music teacher no matter how talented they are. Being able to perform and being able to teach is two completely different things. High School age students are just not mentally ready to take on this position as a private one on one instructor.
Teaching music is not simply an exercise of transferring information to a student from a teacher, but also one that involves mentorship and guidance. Every student has a unique life and reason for being at their lesson, and it is the teacher's job to get to know where the student's coming from to help guide them to accomplish their goals.
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