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Things that make a great music teacher – Part 3

Last week we looked at the second character trait which makes a music teacher great, Proficiency. Today we look at a third and important aspect that you will want to look for in your next music teacher: Patience.

#3 Patient

This third character trait is a very important one, especially for anyone who is new to music, or who has a fear of education, stress, or the unknown. Music lessons have been known to cause panic in a student who is unsure of the right answer to a question they don’t understand. People come from all different places of ability, musical education, musical history, etc., when they look for a music teacher. A great music teacher is one who who can be patient in the process of getting to know their student. What strengths and weaknesses does their student possess? What aspects of music do they find most enjoyable?

If your teacher is not patient, then they may attempt to use pressure and stress to get the results they are looking for, believing that the lack of ability on the part of their student is due to laziness. While students can of course be lazy, the mystery of music is much more difficult and profound for someone who is new to it. A teacher can forget this fact – having spent years studying music they may forget how difficult it was to grasp the pattern of a major scale – to even understand why a musical scale moves the way it does, in the pattern that it does.

The interesting thing is that if pressed, even an experienced music teacher will have difficulty I think in clearly explaining a mystery in music such as the one I just mentioned about scales. Does anyone know why in a major scale there is only a half step between the 3rd and 4th notes, as well as the 7th and 8th notes, while all the other notes have whole steps between them? Can anyone scientifically explain why it sounds “right” to do it that way? I have yet to hear it.

The point of this is that music is something that is beyond our ability to comprehend in many ways. If a teacher is not patient with their student, the student can lose all interest in music, even develop a distaste for it and a memory bank full of dreadful thoughts of inadequacy and boredom. Music is intended to be a joyful experience to participate in. It is wonderful if it is appreciated and understood. It is very important that the teacher you find is patient, and recognizes that music lessons are not only someone imparting information to someone else who doesn’t have it – but more significantly it’s a journey to explore the beauty of music together. If you can find a teacher who thinks that way, then you will get the most out of music lessons.

Which brings me to my last point. The Musicality Network of Portland, Oregon looks for teachers such as I just described to be a part of our team. One of our mottos is “great people make great teachers”. Music is a deep, integral part of what it means to be human. To enjoy music is to delight in being a human. At the Musicality Network we only have teachers who fit this description, others have been filtered out through an interview process which explores their character and understanding of music. If during an interview we don’t get the sense that a music teachers loves music and loves teaching, then we are not going to bring that person into the network. If you are interested in signing up for music lessons, give us a call or email and we can help you find a teacher. Thanks for reading!

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