Finding a Music Teacher

How to Find a Music Teacher

So, you decided that your child will take music lessons, and now you must find a music teacher. How do you do that? Obviously, you want to find a teacher who is qualified, who will work well with your child, who will inspire your child to greatness, and will make every lesson as exciting as a favorite video game. Is there such a person? Probably not, but I am sure you can find a music teacher who is just right for your child! I managed to find at least 10 different music teachers for my children, so I am pretty sure you can find one too!

Finding the right music teacher
Finding the right music teacher

How or where to look for a music teacher:

  1. Word of mouth is probably the best way to start looking for a music teacher. Ask your friends if they know anyone qualified. Does your child have any friends at school taking lessons on the same instrument? Ask them who their teacher is. Is there anyone at church who plays that instrument? Ask them if they know anyone who teaches that instrument.
  1. Ask the music teachers at your child’s school. They often know people in the area who teach lessons. See who they recommend.
  1. Also, ask at your local music store. Sometimes a music store has teachers who teach lessons there. Or they might have a list of private music teachers in the area. One of my girls took lessons for a while from a teacher at our store.
  1. Are there any universities, colleges, or community colleges in your area? Check with them. If the school has a good music program, there are probably students who would be happy to earn some extra money giving lessons. Also, some music departments have a “prep” school connected with them. This gives their music students an opportunity to give lessons in a supervised environment. Other colleges may have a community music program that offers lessons by qualified instructors to the general community. Three of my girls taught at their college music prep school. Three of my boys took lessons from the community music school at a local college.
  1. Search the internet – there are professional organizations that list music teachers by area. Sometimes music teachers have their own websites. Do some research.

Okay, so you narrowed your search down to a couple names, now what? How do you proceed? What things do you need to consider before making a final choice?

What to look for in a music teacher:

  1. Does the teacher have openings in her schedule, or would your name go on a waiting list?
  1. Where does the person teach? At school? In your home? At the music store? In his/her own studio? And are you willing to drive to this location every week? (Or clean your house every week before the teacher appears? Been there, done that!)
  1. Does the teacher have good references? Ask for some names you can contact as references.
  1. Do you think this person will be a good fit for your child? Will their personalities work well together?
  1. Can you (or your child) deal with the teacher’s expectations? I took my son to a trial lesson with a music teacher once, and I thought the teacher was just a bit too intense for my son. A few years later we came back to that same teacher, and my son had developed enough so that this teacher was just what he needed. They worked together for several years after that.
  1. Ask for a trial lesson before making a commitment. Sit in on the lesson. See how your child and the teacher interact. See if you are both comfortable with the teacher’s style.
  1. Also, be sure you understand how the teacher expects to be paid.

Don’t settle for the first teacher you find, look for someone who will challenge and inspire your child. Look for someone who will care about their progress and who will motivate them. I hope you find a great music teacher!

What other suggestions do you have? Leave them in the comments section. I look forward to hearing from you!

Music Theory – What Is It and Why Should I Care?

What is music theory and why should I care?
What is music theory and why should I care?

Music theory is a way to explain how music works.

Some people explain music theory by comparing it to grammar. Just like grammar helps us to learn the rules for writing sentences and paragraphs, music theory is the rules and structure for the language of music. The rules  are not restrictive rules; rather, the rules are the foundation on which the music is built, the structure, or the skeleton, for our music. It is a way of explaining why some sounds work better than others. The ideas that help us understand music and how it is put together is music theory. On its most basic level music theory deals with the notation, structure, rhythm, melody, and harmony of music. Music theory explains how to take the sounds a composer wants and express them on paper.

Why should I care about music theory?

If you are learning to play music, knowing some basics of music theory will be a big help to you! Can you look at a piece of music and understand what all the black stuff on the page means? That is music theory.

Knowing music theory will help you learn your music faster.

At some point you need to learn your music by reading it off the page, not by listening to someone else play it for you. If you know music theory you can read the notes off the page, understand how the notes should be played, and understand why they work together. The better you can do that, the better you can learn new music.

Knowing music theory will help you memorize music more easily.

Sooner or later, if you keep taking music lessons, you will have to memorize some music. The more you understand how the music is put together, the easier you will be able to memorize your music. You can look for patterns in the music, you can understand what the music is doing. Can you tell if a group of notes is just a scale in disguise, or if it is a chord with the notes played one at a time instead of all together? Understanding the logic behind the music will make memorizing your music easier.

Knowing music theory will make you a better sight reader.

Have you ever had anyone place an unknown piece of music in front of you and tell you to play it? Can you do that without panicking? Music theory to the rescue! If you have some understanding of music theory, you know what to look for before you start to play. You know to check the key signature and the time signature. You know to glance through the music and look for patterns. Music theory helps you look for all the clues that make playing the piece a little bit less intimidating.

Music theory helps to improve your improv.

If you want to improvise on your instrument knowing some music theory will help you do a better job! Do you know what key you’re playing in? Is the piece major or minor? What chords are you using? Knowing how to figure out all those things helps you be a better improvise.

Some basic music theory knowledge helps you help your child.

Are you the parent of a music student? Do you know anything about music? If not, learning some basic music theory will help you help your child. You can listen to them play and hear that something is not quite right, but can you help them find what they are missing, what they are getting wrong? Learn some basics along with them, and you can help them find their playing errors.

Learning some basic music theory will help beginners learn music better and faster, it will help more experienced students understand their music better, and it will help parents be able to help their children. Stop by next week, and we will learn some of the basics!


Music History Eras

Did you know? Just like the history you learn about in school has different time periods, or eras, so does the history of music. And each music history era has different characteristics and different changes in how the music was written and played. Even though the first music history era starts in 500 A.D., that doesn’t mean there wasn’t any music before that. Music existed long before that time; it just wasn’t classified into a specific time period for music history. So let’s look at these different time periods and some very basic characteristics for each one.

Music History Eras
Music History Eras

Early Music (also known as Medieval Music)

This period of music history corresponds to the Middle Ages, about 500-1400. Most music then was vocal music, written to be sung in the church. There were not very many instruments available. The main instruments were the recorder, the trumpet, the bagpipe, and the shawm (somewhat similar to the oboe). During this time people were just beginning to develop the ideas of how to write music on paper.

Renaissance Music

This music history era was the same time as the Renaissance era in world history, from about 1400-1600. During this time people explored new ideas and new worlds,  and discovered, or rediscovered, new things in art and music. Most of the music was still vocal music, but it was not all just for use in the church any more. Also, the printing press was developed during this time, so people were able to print and distribute music.

Baroque Music

The Baroque period of music history happened about the same time as the Pilgrims, exploration, and colonization (1600-1750). This was the same time period that the American colonies began. During the Baroque era composers wrote much more instrumental music and non-church music. The first versions of the modern orchestra were started. Composers also started writing operas and oratorios.

Classical Period

The Classical period of music history happened at about the same time as the American Revolution, the French Revolution, and the Age of Enlightenment, about 1750-1830. During this time composers started writing string quartets, sonatas, and orchestral symphonies. More instruments were added to orchestras. Also, the modern piano was developed and popularized during this time.

Romantic Period

The Romantic Era lasted from about 1830-1900, about the same time as the Industrial Revolution. The music from this time featured intense energy and passion. Composers tried to express scenes from real life in their music. Musical rules of the past had to be rethought and changed to support new ideas of writing music. New musical developments included tone poems, descriptive overtures, major symphonies, dramatic operas, and virtuosic piano music.

Twentieth Century and Beyond

This era of music history began about 1900 and continues through today. Composers during this time tried to be radical and different, and rebelled  against some of the established musical ideas. So, new styles and forms of music developed. Classical music composers included ideas from jazz and folk music into their new music. This era also includes music for film scores and video games.

If you want to know a little bit more about music history, check out

Do you want your own copy of our Music History Eras chart? Download it here!