How to Find the Right Music Teacher

“I think that a large part of the problem is that people are taught how to be taught by someone else, but they are not taught how to be their own teachers.”

—Vladimir Horowitz

Finding the Right Music Teacher

The music teacher understands the student on a deep emotional level that is only possible through the personal expression found in music. The teacher become the students friend, mentor, confidant, and the most influential figure in their life.

What to Look for in a Music Teacher

  • A good reputation as a teacher in the community
  • A college degree or certification from a recognized music program
  • Sufficient teaching experience
  • Experience teaching students of different age groups
  • Excellent references from other parents or students
  • A career as a full-time musician and/or teacher
  • Extensive performing experience
  • Good studio location and lesson time availability
  • Comparable rates based on their education, skill level and reputation
  • The ability to play the piano at a high level
  • Punctuality and professionalism
  • A history of successful students

When searching for the right music teacher try to learn more about their personality and demeanor. Converse with them about everyday events. If you are a parent of a student, have the teacher interact with the child and observe the interaction. Quality music teachers will often want to interview the student to see if they will be a good fit. A good music teacher won’t accept just anyone, especially since they may be teaching them for years to come! A good music teacher will want to understand you too.

When conversing with the music teacher try to discover:

  • Is the teacher outgoing, cheerful and energetic? or jaded and grumpy?
  • Does the teacher genuinely like your child and vice versa?
  • Are they teaching because they love to teach?
  • Do they have a history of successful students?
  • Are the majority of their students long-term?
  • Are they actively contributing to the music commmunity?
  • Do they extend the students education beyond just the lessons? Do they organize recitals, performances and examinations?

The way a person plays music is reflective of that person on the deepest level.

The Role of the Music Teacher

I have had accomplished students come to their lessons completely incapable of playing the piano because of emotional turmoil from personal issues that gripped them that particular week. The only way to spend the lesson was in counsel, discussing anything but music.

A good music teacher helps the student get through their personal struggles. A great music teacher helps conquer them.

Wait for the Right Teacher

Base your decision not only on convenience, price, and good looks but a quality personality, character and reputation.

Investigate and be informed!

“There are two ways to teach the piano: One is to build up a student over a long period and be totally

responsible for them, not only musically but psychologically so that the teacher is his confidant and his

motivator. The other way is to teach master classes.”
—Alfred Brendel

Is It Better to Add or Subtract EQ When Mixing Music?

Many home studio producers and studio recording engineers who know how to mix music have learned to equalise their music over time, will know that EQ is a crucial tool for creating a balanced mix that represents the music best and is pleasing to the ear. And the listener will want to listen to time and again. So getting the balance right and knowing when to subtract or add equalization is vital. And EQ is often overused.

Equalization or EQ is basically the volume of frequency ranges within a piece of music. Starting with sub bass and bass as the low frequency ranges, lo-mid hi-mid and presence range are next up and then come the high frequencies, some of which we cannot hear. Human ears are particularly sensitive to the mid and hi-mid or presence range as this is where speech lies in the frequencies.

If music is harsh or tiring on the ears then this means the mid range has been accentuated too much.

Another common error is too much bass which leads to ‘woolly’ or muddy mixes. So it is a delicate balance to strike to get all the elements of a track, song or piece of music heard as you intend when you are mastering how to mix music.

A common strategy is to do additive equalization (EQ) to bring out come frequencies or sounds within an instrument or track. This effectively means you are turning up the volume of a part of the instruments sound or overall within the piece of music. You can see the effects of this on some stereo hi-fi systems with EQ settings or even in computer software such as Winamp and Windows Media Player. So if adding EQ in music is essentially increasing the volume of a frequency range, it is important to be aware that this will affect the balance of the harmonics or overtones of the sound. And apparently with many plug in software EQ devices, this can also result in distortion or phasing issues (where the frequencies can start to cancel each other out or negatively affect each other in other weird and wonderful ways).

And subtractive EQ in music – where you basically are taking out some frequencies or turning them down – can also cause phasing issues. But I tend to try to go for subtractive instead of additive where possible as I feel is less harsh or tiring for the ears and can leave room for other instruments or frequencies to breathe. For example, if a vocal track is not cutting through the guitar in a singer songwriter song, I will first try carving out some of the mid frequencies from the guitar rather than adding more mid range frequencies to the vocal track.

So, before you reach to turn up frequencies to get them to be more present in the mix or more prominent, perhaps try taking away some frequencies from the parts that are overshadowing or in conflict with those frequencies. Of course EQ can be used more creatively and obviously as an effect if you are making creative music. Dancefloor DJs often make use of EQ filters for effect. Just be aware you are affecting the whole mix and could be tiring your listeners’ ears by using unnecessary or drastic EQ in music, meaning they won’t be keen to listen to the music too much.

How To Increase Your Income As A Private Music Teacher

Private Music teachers are teachers who teach one instrument, usually one on one with a student, or in small groups of students. Often these lessons are in the teachers or the students homes, or sometimes they are held within a school situation, often with the student coming out of a larger class to spend the time with the teacher.

In a private studio or in a school, the monetary arrangements for this kind of music lesson involves the parent paying the teacher “per lesson” and it is these kind of teachers that this article hopes to help increase their income.

In this article are four strategies for increasing income as a private music teacher – some of them may not be suitable for every teacher, but hopefully they will give you some insights on how private music teachers can improve their income.

Strategy #1 – Never refund or credit a lesson because its in the clients best interest

Students miss lessons. It’s a fact. People get sick, there are special sporting events that happen, there are times when for whatever reason students are going to miss their music lesson. The fact is that this is unavoidable. What you can do as a music teacher is have a policy that says that “lessons are always made-up, they are never refunded or credited to your account”, however the important thing that is often missed in this is the WHY of that statement… it should be because it is necessary for the student’s progress on their instrument.

If you use this philosophy you won’t ever have to argue with parents over it – because its in the students interest, not yours! If you start the arrangement with this agreement in place you’ll find it much easier to enforce it – the parents will make the effort to make up the lesson rather than you having to insist on it. If you have outcomes for the student (such as an assessment or exam) in place it makes it even easier to make sure that it happens.

You will need to make time to make the lessons up – it might be necessary to allow one or two days in the holidays or during non-contact time to do it, but you’ll find that the ability to do this will be worth it in extra income. Very often the parents will not bother making it up, and you’ll not have to credit or refund any money!

Strategy #2 – Find your Niche and make yourself exclusive in that Niche

If you have something special about your teaching you’ll find that you’ll attract more and better quality students, and you’ll be able to charge more.

For example, lets say you teach the guitar.

If you teach anyone who comes you’ll probably end up with some young children, some high school children, and maybe one or two adults and you’ll have to teach a variety of styles depending on the type of music that the students like.

If however….. you start a niche business, specializing in only one area you’ll eventually find that people will seek you out because you are a specialist, and you’ll be able to charge more for your services and you’ll be able to only take on the students you want.

Examples of a niche business for guitar might be: – A business that specializes in guitar for young children – A business that helps adults fulfill their dreams of playing guitar in a band – A business that specializes in heavy metal guitar

These are just examples – there are literally thousands of possibilities, but the niche must be something that customers actually want, it cant be something that you think might be good!

Strategy #3 – Increase your retention rate and don’t take on every student

Increasing your retention rate is vital for all businesses – but particularly for music teachers – where your income is determined by the number of students you are teaching multiplied by the dollars that you charge.

If you increase the quality and standard of the students you teach while simultaneously cutting down on the number you lose you’ll steadily increase your income, and have a more satisfying day to day teaching role.

There is no way you should accept every student that you get offered. Not every student is going to be right for you – they often are looking to learn different things to what you offer, and they might not be as reliable in terms of paying their fees and attending lessons as your regular students, so you should always meet and interview prospective students before you agree to teach them.

By avoiding “problem” students in the first place you’ll be able to spend your time with more productive activities and better quality students.. and this definitely helps to increase your earning potential.

Most of the problems with retention can be traced back to one thing – the students lack motivation because they don’t practice enough. At the fun music company teachers blog we have a few strategies for increasing your retention rate, including practice systems and ideas for making lessons more fun.

Strategy #4 – Add passive income streams to your business

Teaching income is active income – if you stop teaching the income stops. That is ok.. because it is like any earned income. What you should be looking to do is also add passive income to your business.

Do you write any teaching materials which can be used in music classes or lessons?

If so you are in the perfect position to add passive income to your income mix. All you have to do is find a way to publish your materials so that your students and others can access them. It can be as simple as getting the materials printed and bound at a copy shop just for your students only.

Do you purchase books and music for your students and pass them on to them?

If so you may be able to negotiate bulk discounts from suppliers and then add the full retail cost of the books to the students account. Parents will appreciate the convenience of not having to go into a shop to purchase the books if you put it through your business.

Can you sell leads to other teachers or businesses?

For example students all need to purchase instruments. Sometimes possible is an arrangement where you can can get a monetary commission from a music store if you refer your students to purchase their instruments there. This is certainly possible on the internet, via the use of affiliate programs.

I hope this article has given you some ideas of ways that you can improve your income as a private music teacher. I was a private music teacher for over ten years, and I’ve used all of these strategies during that time. Private music teaching should be fun and rewarding, and it gives you freedom to practice what you love, which is sharing the joy of music with others.