One cannot understate the importance of performing due diligence in choosing your child's violin teacher.
If your child has expressed an interest in playing the violin (or the viola or the cello), odds are good that their school provides basic music courses, such as beginning orchestra, where a student can learn the basics of a string instrument. But typically, class instruction is rarely enough to allow a student to progress as rapidly as if he or she studies the instrument privately. This is true, even if the ratio between hours spent with a private teacher and hours spent in a group class is five to one. So it is always wise to supplement any classes with private instruction if you wish your child to progress more rapidly.
If the school your child attends does not provide music classes, then you’re going to find yourself searching for a private teacher, too, and the key here is to perform your due diligence. That means, you put on your Sherlock Holmes hat and start investigating and gathering information, because who you choose to teach music to your children will be one of the most important decisions you make.
If your child is fortunate enough to have a school music program, then your job got a little easier. Chances are good that there are other students who are already taking private violin lessons. You’ll find, not unexpectedly, that these students are probably the top performers in the class. Talk to their parents and get their insights and opinions about their child’s teacher. It’s a good sign if all the players are studying from the same teacher. Speaking to parents of players who are studying privately is the best way to get accurate and important information about teachers.
Another method of investigation is traveling to your local music store. A violin shop that makes and sells violins, violas and cellos would be a better bet than a store that sells electric guitars and trumpets. Oftentimes, the local violin shop will have great insight into the local violin teacher scene. Most likely, the teachers and their students are regulars at such shops. (While you’re there at the shop, take the time to inquire about the cost and availability of student violins for sale as well as violin accessories in the event you may want to further invest in your child’s budding musicianship.)
Lastly, you can perform an online search. There exist many online lists and music teacher websites where you can glean information. Be sure to check Yelp! reviews of teachers. Yelp! has become an important tool in learning about those who provide products and services and violin teachers are no different.
Once you’ve developed a good, tight, small list of teachers who have outstanding reputations, give them a call. Speak to them about their experience teaching and their approach. Ask to speak to parents of two or three of their students and request to attend a recital of the teacher’s students. When asking about their credentials, remember that great violin players are not always great violin teachers. A college student may actually be a better teacher than a teacher who graduated from Juilliard and concertizes. Before you call and speak to the teacher, write down a list of questions to ask, to cover all your bases and take notes.
It’s always wise to attend your child’s lessons on an ongoing basis, to keep your finger on the pulse of the lessons and to stay involved in your child’s musical education.