Monday Mailbag – Best Age Student for a Beginning Teacher

What age range do you think might be best for a beginning teacher?  Or maybe I should rephrase that as, “Are there certain ages which you find significantly more challenging to instruct than other ages?”

This one really made me think! There is a common misconception that it is less critical to have a good/professional/experienced, etc. teacher for the beginning years of a student’s piano instruction, because if they indicate that they are serious about studying piano, they can get in with a good teacher later. I wholeheartedly disagree with this mentality! The beginning years of a student’s music education are the most critical. This is when foundational musical concepts are learned, practice habits are formed, attitude toward music and lessons is developed, and so much more.

For this reason, I think I would almost recommend that a beginning teacher start by taking on some transfer students, rather than starting beginning students from scratch. You will probably find it easier to pinpoint weak areas that need attention and will feel more comfortable helping those students fix problems or answer questions that they have. This will also help you see firsthand what areas are important to include in a child’s beginning lessons.

I’m sure there are other thoughts on this issue, and it certainly depends some on your own personality and how well you interact with various ages of children or adults. And, of course, you may not have the luxury of choosing specific ages or levels – you may just have to take what you get as you are contacted by parents or interested students and learn as you go. As hard as it is to learn “on the fly,” there’s really nothing that can substitute for experience. I know I’ve made plenty of mistakes in my years of teaching, but my goal is to constantly be learning and striving to be the best teacher that I can be for the students that I have.

I would welcome input from any other teachers! What age or level do you think is best for a beginning teacher to start with?

Remember, if you have a question you’d like to contribute to next week’s Monday Mailbag, leave it in the comments below or send me an e-mail sometime this week with Monday Mailbag in the subject line!

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