WHAT MAKES A GREAT TEACHER
It's important to find a strong teacher when it comes to singing or learning an instrument. Discerning between qualifications, credentials, relevant experience, history, and most importantly an instructor's intuition for how to guide students, can be a challenging process. Even more difficult is the task of trying to identify these elements amongst the noise of advertised flash sales, neon lit signs and general marketing gimmicks from certain "music schools", "academy's" and quick-trick singers/musicians. The negative impact of an ill-matched or inexperienced teacher can hit hard when realizing the result of lost time, expense, progress, interest, and even potential damage to a student's voice and/or instrumental technique.
1. EXPERIENCE & BEST INTEREST
Look for a teacher with a full background of both performance and teaching experience. A great teacher will be well-versed both on and off the stage, as well as knowledgeable of the surrounding components that go into making music. This can be difficult to find inside the walls of particular business-based music schools or academy's as they generally try to mass produce music lessons using high volumes of part-time short-term teachers. This model can also result in constant instructor turnover and instability for the student. In certain instances, these instructors may be recent graduates or even still students themselves, lacking real world experience in the teaching and performing fields. Additionally, try to avoid facilities that make outrageously exciting claims of being " NUMBER ONE", "MOST QUALIFIED" and/or any other fast track infomercial type presentation as often times these teachers may only be carrying a half dozen students at a time, certainly not that of the "most experienced" when compared to the full-time roster of many professional coaches/instructors.
In contrast, accredited music schools (those that are University, non-profit, or State/Federally funded), along with professional studios are generally application based and have a limited number of students with which they take on, drawing a positive distinction between those offering a true academic mentorship, and businesses primarily focused on their own growth.
Make sure to understand your instructor's education background, specifically on the topics, technique, style, and music they're teaching. Some teachers advertise a rather wide skillset despite their training only being limited to a specific area of music. Other instructors may hide behind relative degrees that appear great on paper but may not match their ability to teach others the same information. Are you being taught both how to do something and why it's important, or is the instructor just blindly giving direction? For the best learning experience, always look for an instructor with a well-rounded background, a history of teaching successful students, and one whose learning background matches the content they're teaching.
A big part of learning music is having an instructor with a performance history that can translate into how they prepare students for their own stages. Those that lack a sufficient professional performance background will generally cite one-off events or single-show performances to try and mask a lack of credible performance employment through professional management, representation or otherwise. Look for an instructor with a full experience of their field, those that have maintained a true career standing and endorsed by an affiliation, agency, manager, or sponsor for their performance work.
This is probably the most critical element to keep in mind when navigating potential instructors. Every student learns differently, and a great teacher will be able interpret this in their students, supplying each one with the right musical nutrition that unlocks their full potential as an independently unique singer or musician. Throughout the teaching landscape there can be some very knowledgeable instructors, albeit poor communicators. Look for a teacher who understands where you're at in ability and is able to give digestible information providing you with the best learning experience and maximized progress.
5. STUDENT SUCCESS
Last but not least, when looking for an instructor make sure to identify the success not just of their own careers but also that of their students. Some individuals can do a great job making it look like they know their stuff however lack evidence of their students being successful with the teaching they've provided. A great teacher will take pride in their work, adequately training students to succeed in whichever musical direction they choose to go. Although not every student needs to become an A-list pop star, a capable instructor will undoubtedly have many examples of collegiate and career-driven students who've taken the mentorship and training they've received and forged a successful future.
Remember to explore these ideas and always make sure your goals and aspirations match the training and experience of the instructor you work with.