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How To Find A Good Music Tutor for Young Children

Updated on April 5, 2015

Making The Right Choice For Your Child

A good music tutor an make all the difference to a child's musical experience! To find a good music tutor for your child is so important if you want them to enjoy music as well as succeed. We all have music in us - even the "tone deaf" can be taught by a good music tutor! Avoiding heartbreak and setting your child on the road to musical success is most important, so how do you find a good music tutor?

At this time of year, so many children are given instruments. It is their heart's desire to play. It is so important to find the right music teacher for your child. Don't we owe it to them to find someone special to teach them the basics who will nurture and encourage their musical gifts whether great or small - and their dreams too - from the start?. Choosing a good music tutor for your child will set them on the right track to a lifetime of musical enjoyment.

We practise sport maybe for twenty or thirty years at most, but music we can carry from cradle to grave. So many people give up music as children and then regret it, this lens is written as a guide for parents in hopes that children will not give up!


Intro image by Photahsiamirabel, please do not copy.

Music is important, finding a good tutor is vital

Instrumental Tuition from a good music tutor is Important

My expertise as an instrumental tutor is guitar - classical, electric and bass, so I cover all evils! My training as a class teacher is Junior Secondary and I have taught many subjects. The majority of my work these days is with Primary children and I would like to pass on some of my experience to parents of young children who enjoy music.

I pestered my parents variously for lessons in trumpet, violin, singing, piano, clarinet - seemingly every time I heard a new sound I liked I wanted to learn it! My interest in the guitar persisted so at age ten I was bought my first instrument and at age eleven I began lessons. The lessons were available after school and so it was convenient. They were small group lessons with a qualified teacher who played jazz guitar professionally and taught only classical.

Music, Young Children & You: A parent-teacher guide to music for 0-5 year olds
Music, Young Children & You: A parent-teacher guide to music for 0-5 year olds
Music is natural for most young children and very much a part of play. Very young children learn best through well structured play with easily achievable goals and they are not afraid of repetition.

When I first started to play..

The process was really almost accidental and over the years I wondered at the luck which presented a good teacher at the right age. In those days, guitar lessons at school were almost unheard of! There were many back street boys teaching the three chord trick (and very little else) for pin money. These days wherever you go there are school tutors, private tutors and good players trying to earn a little between gigs. So how do you choose what is right for your child?

Teaching should never be considered a second best option. The responsibility involved in teaching young children is enormous. What we say and do in lessons can impact on children and produce a lifetime of success or failure in music. What a great responsibility - you can motivate or sour a whole creative faculty for life!

The tips I will give here apply to all instruments, not just my own, and the focus is on the very young - the five to ten age group that some tutors refuse to work with!

Beginner Music Books On Sale - A resource for good music teachers and parents

As a teacher, I do prefer to teach with a variety of material to suit age and ability. Many teachers have a set book they prefer. It is always wise to ask the new teacher if a book is necessary yet, and which one is best for the child at their particular age.

Good Music Tutors - Educational Resources On Sale - Good Tutors Know How Children Learn

Understanding what young children are capable of helps us to treat them fairly and with understanding.

Learning from Young Children: Research in Early Childhood Music
Learning from Young Children: Research in Early Childhood Music
Does your tutor understand that young children are not just miniature adults? It is very important to study how children think and learn.

Good Music Tutors - Visiting your Child's Music Tutor

Learning from the Professional Music Teacher

Sometimes a confident guitar tutor or piano tutor will allow parents to sit in on a few lessons. If this is the case, there are a few things to remember:

Firstly, this is the child's time, so any issues you may have understanding what is happening are best dealt with in a phone call afterwards. Secondly, if the tutor does not reprimand your child for cheekiness or whatever, don't do it for him! Thirdly, note how the child is responding in the lesson. What makes him happy and enthusiastic? How does the tutor get him to try adventurous new things? When you are home perhaps you can try some of these games with your child to encourage practice - but avoid calling it practice and avoid making it into work!

Kod'aly Today: A Cognitive Approach to Elementary Music Education
Kod'aly Today: A Cognitive Approach to Elementary Music Education
The Kodaly method is a well tried and tested system that takes into account stages and the need for structure and success in all musical activities.

Good Music Tutors Understand Practice and Play

The Importance of Child Centred Learning

The reason some guitar tutors refuse to teach below age ten has to do with a personal disinterest in and failure to understand young children. The old argument about size of hands doesn't hold water in a world where decent quarter and half sized guitars multiply. Children sit at piano keyboards and wrestle with violins at age three and four and benefit from the early start!

Incidentally, always start a young child on nylon strings. Steel strings hurt small fingers! If you must start a child on a rock instrument buy a decent half sized electric guitar - steel strung acoustics are for experienced players only.

To some music tutors, the accuracy of music, skills and theory are simply more important than simple fun and enjoyment. These people are better working with adults or advanced students if they have the necessary skills. Look for a tutor who is enthusiastic and allows play into lessons as this is most encouraging.

Young children often experience difficulty with practice. Part of the reason is that it is presented as a chore! Technical work should be presented as a challenge and a game in lessons. Simon says and copying games are effective and so much better than lengthy and wordy lectures on how good they can be in ten years if only they work.

Children live and learn in the moment, and of course parents and tutors who understand that get better results. If your child is not enjoying his lessons because the approach is too grown up and serious you might need to look for another tutor! Children learn best through play and nowhere is play more important than in developing musical creativity. Composing is playing after all! It is imaginative and creative, not a burden.

Good Music Tutors Buy Music for Young Children - Children's Music Books for Sale

Piano pieces and instruction manuals need to be designed with children in mind. Are the tunes child friendly? Is the typeface big enough for small people? Is the course fun?

Piano Pieces for Young Children (EFS No.252)
Piano Pieces for Young Children (EFS No.252)
A collection of pieces suitable for beginners from age 6 up. This is the sort of collection that can complement and enhance lessons from a good tutor.

Good Music Tutors Know Good Things Come In Small Packages

Every Teacher knows a child's concentration is limited....

Sometimes tutors book time only in individual hourly slots. This is usually for organizational or financial reasons. It is unlikely that a young child will be able to cope with an hour's intense one-to-one tuition!

When I was growing up, piano teachers routinely started with twenty minute lessons which increased with age and ability. This seems best to me. Actually I find that a thirty minute shared lesson is good, because children can interact and learn from each other, games and competitions can be more fun, group playing becomes a possibility and the heat is not on constantly!

All-in-One Course for Children: Lesson, Theory, Solo, Book 1 (Alfred's Basic Piano Library)
All-in-One Course for Children: Lesson, Theory, Solo, Book 1 (Alfred's Basic Piano Library)
Theory, practice, songs and games should be integrated not taught separately.

Good Music Tutors Always Use Rewards....

....Never Sanctions....

Keeping an attractive practice diary is a good thing. Young children respond very well to collecting stickers. Tutors and parents can reward a good effort with a piece, a lesson or practice with a sticker in the practice book. So many stickers could equal a trip to the zoo, a concert or MacDonalds for instance. It sounds like bribery, but think of it more as encouragement or even "wages" for effort.

Of course, the best reward a child can have is praise. Praise from a tutor should be fair, reasonable and pretty constant. Praise from a parent is all important because at the end of the day you, as a parent, are a young child's very best role model!


Did you learn an instrument as a young child? Did you carry on? Did you have a good tutor? What made your experience special or not so special - please share!


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