OUR STORYIn 2008, I opened my own little teaching Studio in Falls Church because I was seeking a comfortable way to do the very best teaching that I could. The facility that we have built at the Studio includes acoustic grand pianos in every room, a group classroom, a warm-up keyboard, comfortable waiting room, and music library. We are not just one teacher serving a long line of individual students; we are a community of learners. Our studio feels like a special place to come to…because it is a special place! For the serious student, seeking a thorough and long-term education, I know that we can do our best work in our own studio.
But I also know that not everyone lives near the city of Falls Church. And that not everyone who does is able to travel to us. And there are other instruments out there besides piano! Our studio serves a very small area and a very small piece of the market for music education.
RESOURCES FOR FINDING TEACHERS IN ANY COMMUNITYIf you’re looking for a teacher who can come to your home; or, if you’re looking for a teacher who may teach in her own home in your neighborhood; or, if you’re looking for something different than what we can offer, here are some resources to get you started:
Music Teachers National Association (MTNA) This nationwide organization of mostly independent music teachers has over 20,000 members. They maintain a list of Nationally Certified Music Teachers (NCTM) But there are thousands of member teachers who are not on the NCTM list. To find these non-certified (but often excellent) teachers, MTNA’s state and local affiliates are a good resource. In the DC area: Virginia Music Teachers Association, Washington Music Teachers Association, Northern Virginia Music Teachers Association, Montgomery County Music Teachers Association. All of these organizations maintain either online lists of available teachers or other resources (such as an offline referral service) that may help you connect with a great teacher.
National Federation of Music Clubs (NFMC) is another membership organization comprised primarily of independent music teachers. They do not maintain an online directory of members but through their website you can find state and local-level clubs, many of which have either a teacher directory or an offline teacher referral service.
In smaller communities throughout the country, the local affiliates of MTNA and NFMC might have a very limited web presence, or even none at all. Contacting local club presidents or other officers by phone or email may in these cases be appropriate and useful in connecting with your local network of independent teachers.
TRAVELING TEACHERS, MUSIC STORES, COMMUNITY MUSIC SCHOOLSIt’s hard to find a good music teacher and it’s even harder to find a good music teacher who can travel to your home. In the DC area, you might consider B&B Music Lessons. This locally owned and operated company supplies teachers of many instruments. There are also many good teachers working in the back room of a music store or in community music schools. Well regarded community music schools in Northern Virginia include the Levine School of Music in Arlington, Harmonia in Vienna, Music Spectrum in Herndon. Program offerings and fees vary quite widely. A simple web search will reveal dozens of additional operators.
Interview your teacher and your schoolOnce you’ve found a teacher you might think the job is done but in fact the last step, which is interviewing one or more prospective teachers, is vitally important! Sorting through the many options in the marketplace can be daunting…but it is essential. Most reputable commercial operators will screen their teachers and will choose not to retain poorly performing teacher. But just the same, not every teacher on a school or company roster will be the right fit for you. The same goes for independent teachers in your neighborhood. Interviewing your teacher in person before starting lessons will help you to do two very important things: find a teacher who will be a good total match for your specific situations; and, help you to be confident that you have found the right match! You might sign up over the phone and discover that the teaching room is no bigger than a closet and doesn’t even have an acoustic piano! Seek to interview your teacher in person. Sometimes your interview will be free, as it is in our Studio; other times, it may carry a charge.
If you haven’t thought of interviewing music teachers before, don’t be too worried. Keep in mind that your job is to determine with confidence that the total lesson situation is the right one for you. Perhaps the teacher will tell you that practice is not required—maybe you’re looking for something more serious. Or perhaps they’ll tell you to practice two hours per day—maybe you’re looking for something more flexible. Once you start asking some questions, and especially if you ask them of more than one teacher, you’ll quickly get a good idea of what is going to work for you, even if you don’t have prior experience in music.
MTNA has some good basic suggestions on interviewing teachers on their Parent and Student Resources page.