FAQ - About the Music School, Lessons and Teachers - based in Middlesex, Harrow, Hillingdon, London.
A 1. This is always a valid concern but does also depend, to some degree, on what kind of concerns you might have and what you ultimately want your child to achieve from music tuition. Very few parents actually ask prospective tutors any questions about their suitability for their child’s tuition, and many will automatically assume that any tutor is qualified for the task, in all respects. However, it is our belief that, for a child to have the best chance of enjoying their tuition and in order to get the most value out of the lessons, there are a number of questions that could be directed to any potential tutor, including:
Where did they study and what are their qualifications? Ask about their life as a musician.
What performance experience have they had, including what and where they have performed. Ask if they are still practising performers.
Enquire about their present pupils (age ranges, exam marks). Are any of them doing anything special musically?
Ask for references from present pupils/parents.
What performance opportunities will your child have from this teacher, if any?
Ask if there are any special techniques that they employ in their lessons or how their teaching is structured.
These are all important, but also take time to hear the prospective tutor play and try to gauge your child’s reaction to them.
It is your right to ask these questions, because it will affect how your child experiences music and develops as a musician.
A 2. Music tuition can be expensive and no parent wants to spend money on music tuition for a year, only to find the child wants to stop lessons. There really is only one reason why this happens – the child is simply not enjoying the lessons enough to want to keep them going (or practise). Sadly, this is not an unusual set of circumstances and can be due to different factors. If possible, find out if or why your child would like to play an instrument in the beginning. Following the advice in the previous answer will also put you in a better position to understand your child’s lessons and therefore any future issues, should any arise.
A 3. This is a commonly asked question. There are a relatively small number of children who have the drive and musical passion within themselves to advance quickly and will not become blasé or disinterested in their music tuition regardless of the teacher (although they can still be hampered by bad instruction). These children tend to be slightly older. However, as is the case with most children, especially younger pupils, the best way to ensure that your child has the best chance of enjoying and doing well in their musical learning is to be as selective as possible in searching for tuition. If a child has a bad experience of music tuition for whatever reason, it can have the effect of putting them off learning the instrument. Once that happens, the situation is very difficult to retrieve, even if another teacher is offered. Therefore it is worthwhile seeking out a tutor who both yourself and your child are happy with from the very beginning. That way, they will have the best chance of being suited to learning music.
A 4. Some schools offer performance opportunities for their pupils throughout the academic year, with most of those offering an end of year concert. Performing is an integral part of musical learning and should be encouraged by schools at all times.
Outside the school environment, performance opportunities can be somewhat more evasive, especially if your child plays an instrument such as piano.
A 5. Directors of Music or music teachers will usually try their best to ensure that children do not miss vital academic lessons in order to have musical tuition. Inevitably however, the sheer volume of pupils taking lessons in schools will mean that somewhere along the line, a child will most likely miss lessons of some description. The effect of this can be reduced by, for example, putting children on a rota system so they may miss an alternative lesson from week to week, but it is still not ideal. Pupils will then need to copy up academic work from those lessons. The best time for lessons, in our experience, is out of school hours, where children can concentrate fully on their music tuition and enter into the spirit of the lesson(s) more successfully. It also gives parents more of an opportunity to sit in on the lessons occasionally and keep contact with their child’s teacher.
A 6. The answers to these questions depend largely on what is being offered in your child’s lessons. If there is a set of circumstances whereby your child is sat in a room with an uninspiring teacher looking quite bored, never practising through the week except under constant parental pressure and never talking about what they are learning or playing, then it can be safely assumed that they are not gaining a great deal from the lessons. If, however, the opposite is true, there are a number of ways a child will be developing. Enjoyment is the key factor. If they love what they are doing, everything else will follow. Important life skills can be developed, especially if the child is performing regularly and is in contact with like-minded fellow musicians.
A 7. There is always a balance to be maintained in how much we offer our children in terms of weekly activities. Our inclination is for them to be involved in as much as possible in order to make an informed choice regarding what they might like to pursue further. It is of course necessary to present children with ‘down time’ as well.
As with any activity, we would not recommend forcing the issue of music tuition upon a child. If possible, try to discover why your child might like to learn an instrument (or indeed why you as a parent might like them to learn) and then evaluate whether or not it might be a feasible option.
A 8. This depends to some extent on how much research was carried out in acquiring the tutor. If the tutor is inspiring and interesting, this need not be a great problem. If this is coupled with an ‘outside the room’ aspect, such as performances arranged by the tutor, so much the better.
A 9. This again depends on the quality of the tutor and if they are able to successfully teach and encourage playing that is full of character and good tone, an integral part of playing that is, sadly, commonly overlooked. Groundwork carried out before acquiring a teacher can increase the chances of success in this respect. It is best to witness any potential teacher’s performing capabilities before letting them teach your child.
A 10. Speed of learning depends on the individual child and will be influenced by factors such as age, ability and the quality of teaching. Judging progress is difficult if you as a parent are not musical and do not see your child perform regularly, although enjoyment is a key factor. If they enjoy lessons, they will practise and progress.
A 11. Time issues, more often than not, can present a problem. It is not necessary for a parent to be musical in order for a child to succeed in their musical endeavours, as long as there is support for those endeavours. Usually, if a child is enjoying their lessons fully and the teaching is of a good standard, time will be made and practise will be happily seen through.
A 12. This is an awkward moment as a previous bad experience can bring out a ‘once bitten, twice shy’ reaction from any pupil and is one reason why it is preferable to do some groundwork before taking on a teacher. If a child is completely against re-starting lessons, there is unfortunately nothing much that can be done. If a child has found lessons uninteresting with one teacher, they have no reason to think that it will be any different with another.
At Active in Music, we pride ourselves in putting to rest any parental fears about musical tuition.
If you have any other concerns or questions, please use the Contact Us form. We would love to hear from you and will always answer every email you send, whether it be a general enquiry or something specific relating to the school.