What Happens If My Music Teacher Can No Longer Teach Me?
This article is for students who are experiencing a teacher change. It gives you points to consider, as well as a fresh outlook on a situation that you may be approaching reluctantly due to the bond established between your private music teacher your student(s).
Throughout the course of a music student’s journey, it is not atypical to have a teacher change at some point. In fact, it is probably just as common to have had more than one teacher as it is to have had the same teacher all along. However, that fact doesn’t make a teacher change any easier from an emotional or academic standpoint when it happens to you—especially if the teacher change is occurring when a great relationship and stride in lessons has been established.
But rest assured, it’s going to be okay, and for every great music teacher out there, another is available close by. I’ve seen the teacher change process occur quite successfully with the help of a few pieces of advice, and I have summarized those tips to aide in the process if you find yourself faced with a private music teacher change.
Step One: Don’t Take it Personally
Your teacher may not be able to continue with you for a variety of reasons. Great, professional teachers make the focus in lessons about the student, so you may not know the details or circumstances surrounding the teacher moving on to another opportunity. There could be family, health, or any number of personal issues contributing to a change in either location or profession. Don’t perceive an instructor no longer being able to work with you as personal slight. There are always other factors going into the change that have nothing to do with the student.
Most of the time, this isn’t a step that concerns some families, but I have seen the opposite as well, because the bond with a great teacher becomes strong with a student—sometimes to the point where it feels the teacher is indispensible. Wherever you fall on the spectrum, remember that you were introduced to the teacher you love, and there will be another teacher out there who will equally impress you!
Step Two: Bring on the Optimism! New Teachers are Exciting!
As the old saying goes, turn the frown upside down! The following piece of advice was actually shared by another Lessons In Your Home Director, Marilyn Krase, in Houston. Her tip is to look at a teacher change as a fortunate opportunity to work with a new instructor and gain fresh insights and perspective on an instrument. Having the opportunity to work with one outstanding instructor is great, but two is even better! Imagine the advantage of multiple musical approaches and explanations that can work together to strengthen the student’s understanding. So don’t despair and think of losing a great teacher, but approach the change with optimism and excitement about the opportunity.
Step Three: Communication is Key
Whether you are working with a school, agency, or are finding a new teacher on your own, make sure you communicate thoroughly through a teacher change. If you are speaking with a school or agency, detail the aspects of your previous teacher that you enjoyed and bring out points that are important to you. Remember, you’ve already had the advantage and experience of having lessons, so you have a lot of valuable information to share in the transition process. When you communicate your expectations either directly or to someone making the teacher match, you are strengthening your chances of having them met!
Another part of the communication process is to make sure your previous teacher has communicated some final notes about where the student is at the time of the transition. Having your teacher who is leaving even speak with the new teacher is a huge help. That way, the new teacher will have some context to work from and already be briefed on areas of strength and improvement.
Step Four: Remember, Your New Teacher May Be Different, and That’s Not A Bad Thing!
Every teacher and individual has their own way of doing things, and that’s what makes learning a fun, collaborative process. Though it is natural to draw comparisons between a previous instructor and a new one, try to avoid this pitfall. Just like students, every teacher is unique and has their individual processes and ways of explaining. Just because your new teacher hasn’t heard of a certain trick, phrase, or doesn’t do a previously emphasized exercise that your old teacher did, it doesn’t mean they are not a good instructor or that their processes are wrong. Be open-minded and trust the approach of the new teacher. Remember, he or she is regarded as an expert, so trust the expertise!
Having a beloved teacher leave and no longer be able to teach you or your child is not typically the most joyous of times, but remember, study does continue and can be just as fun, engaging, and rewarding with a new teacher. Not every instructor works out that you meet, but it’s important to keep a good sense of optimism, especially if a new teacher is being recommended when on your search. Go into the new experience with a new teacher optimistically, openly, and with excitement, and this positive perspective will do wonders in the process. Remember, the longer the term of study, the more likely it is that the student is going to have more than one instructor, and that’s a great thing!