When children first begin school, we hope they get the best, most effective teachers for all their school subjects. For example, for a child that has trouble with math, we hope for the best math teacher to help strengthen weaknesses and catch the child up to his or her peers. This will, in turn, increase confidence and even rekindle curiosity in the subject. For the child that loves math and wants to be an engineer, we hope for the best math teacher that will challenge the student’s abilities, even surpassing peers, and allow the student to advance at an accelerated pace. This child will become well-prepared for a future in math, should he or she choose. The best teachers are efficient and effective, and are able to help a student make progress no matter their future professional goals. Just like in the academic subjects, we want our children to have this type of teacher throughout their music education.
First, an effective teacher is able to quickly identify and correct problems the student has, thus alleviating frustration and allowing the student to overcome problems and make quick progress. Noticeable progress is motivating and keeps students satisfied and improves confidence. Second, an effective teacher also teaches the students how to help themselves (efficient and effective practice) to maximize learning and progress. Even students that begin lessons hesitantly because of the work have realized that the efficient practicing that is required for lessons allows them great gains over a short period of time. Lastly, students that might consider a career in music (there’s no way to know early on!), would like to earn scholarship, or participate in selective ensembles maximize their chances by studying with a teaching expert in the subject from the very beginning of their studies.
As for private lessons, students that start out playing by taking private lessons with an effective teacher either at the very beginning of playing or within their first year are at a great advantage. Starting lessons earlier in a student’s musical career helps develop great habits for playing. An effective teacher will help beginning students develop good habits and foster growth. Students that start taking lessons after a few years of playing often take significantly longer time to unlearn habits that have led to frustration (and sometimes wanting to quit altogether), such as improper hand position, embouchure, fingerings, and breathing problems. These students should expect a period of 3-6 months to break habits and develop foundational tone and technique. At the same time, the students that start private lessons earlier find more satisfaction, motivation, confidence, and success and are less likely to quit.
If your child can learn to do multiplication well in 1 month with one teacher or in 6 months otherwise with added frustration, the choice is easy to make.