Advice on Choosing a Private Tutor
Before deciding upon instrumental or vocal teaching for your child, it makes good sense to be satisfied with answers to certain key questions from any potential provider. We suggest that you should ask your potential provider the following questions. Consider their answers carefully before making your choice.
- Quality of teaching
When and how is the teacher observed teaching by senior specialists? How is the quality of teaching assessed and shared with the teacher and standards thus improved?
There is a need for the peripatetic teacher to feel part of a team, well-supported and advised. Regular monitoring visits help achieve this and also contribute to improving standards of teaching. The "lone" teacher does not have this advantage.
- Selection and qualifications of teachers.
Does the provider audition its teachers - or, if the provider is a private teacher, has a recognised senior specialist heard that teacher play?
To teach an instrument you have to be able to play it competently. If the teacher is only a grade or two ahead of the pupil, this may result in the pupil not learning to play the instrument correctly and giving up in frustration. It is important that an organisation auditions and interviews its teachers. Private teachers working in schools should be auditioned by a qualified specialist able to judge instrumental / vocal competence.
- Professional development of teachers.
How much contact do instrumental / vocal teachers have with other teachers to share skills, and how up-to-date are they in their awareness of teaching methods?
Teachers employed by CAGAC and Music Mark members form part of a network of over 10,000 teachers. Each service arranges for teachers to meet regularly to share ideas and learn from each other. They are provided with in-service training by visiting specialists of national repute in their field. Music Mark members helped formulate the curriculum document A Common Approach - an instrumental / vocal curriculum that forms the basis of a scheme of work. Produced by the Federation of Music Services, the National Association of Music Educators, the Music Education Council and the Royal College of Music, it has now been endorsed by the Government Advisory Committee on Culture and Creativity in Education and is rapidly becoming the standard curriculum document for music services.
- Wider musical opportunities to encourage progress.
Does the provider offer children musical activities over and above the weekly lesson to enable them to fully use their increasing skills?
To make instrumental / vocal tuition truly effective, children ideally need more than a weekly lesson to keep their enthusiasm and develop their skills. They need to perform with others in orchestras, bands, choirs and other ensembles.
- Commercial interests.
Are there any commercial interests involved, such as the provider selling instruments in addition to tuition?
- Mixed instrument groups.
Does the provider teach mixed instrumental groups?
If you are offered group-teaching involving children playing a mixture of different instrumental families taught by one teacher, remember that the teacher is most unlikely to be a specialist in all of them. If this is the case, some children in the group will be learning from an expert and some will not. The latter will be trying to learn from a teacher who may know little about the instrument the student wishes to learn.
- Child protection.
Does the provider have Child Protection guidelines for its teachers? Does the lone private teacher know about child protection? Are they police checked?
This is a vitally important area for consideration where close proximity between teachers and pupils is involved, sometimes in one-to-one situations.
- Membership of MUSIC MARK
If the provider is an organisation, is it a member of MUSIC MARK OR CAGAC?
- Cost and flexibility of the service.
What will be the cost of the lesson plus any charge for the instrument?
How many will be in the teaching group?
How many lessons will be delivered per term or year?
Where will the lessons be held?
What other opportunities will be available in the future?
- Private Lessons
It is not advisable for a young person to supplement Pembrokeshire Music Service instrumental lessons with private tuition from a different teacher. Two teachers with two different approaches can confuse a student, preventing rather than encouraging the progress. The service is, however prepared to teach pupils who have private tuition, but in the event of allocating a limited number of places, will always give priority to the student not receiving private tuition.
These are obvious questions for your potential provider and the answers will vary according to where you live and who will provide the service.
Pembrokeshire County Council Music Service is an active member of CAGAC - Welsh LEA' Music Group, and Music Mark.