How should I choose the right teacher?

Choosing the right teacher for your child can mean the difference between success or a catastrophic failure on an epic scale. Now that I've scared you completely, here are some points to consider:

1) Title or Status in an organization does not indicate one's ability to teach effectively.

2) A teacher's hourly rate is not an indication of one's ability to teach effectively.

3) Some children learn better with male teachers, others with female. This is an unfortunate reality of learning and something that we as a species cannot control. Still, it would be beneficial to at least try a teacher out for a month before making a final judgment.

4) Driving distance from home should never be the deciding factor in who teaches your child. Yes, I know gas is ridiculous and it's not exactly a piece of cake to get around the Spokane area. My parents took me out of school for 3 years every Monday for a lesson that was a 2 hour drive away. In the snow, too. I would not be the person I am today if we had not made that trek every week and I am eternally grateful for their sacrifice.

5) The person you choose to teach your child should be someone that takes an interest in their academic and personal growth and development. This is not easy to judge, so be prepared to ask them good questions about their own background and work experience. Even go so far to ask what they do in their spare time. For instance, do they tinker with their classic car or do they look at you bemused and say "What spare time?"

How long should my child practice?

Ah, the most frequent of the frequently asked questions. The truth is that mastery of any subject matter requires a combination of Frequency, Intensity, and Time. Frequency and time we can measure (e.g. I practiced for 5 days, 85 minutes a day last week). Intensity we cannot measure, as it depends on one's personal interest, talent, dedication, etc. Intensity is the most important factor. It is better to practice 5 minutes at 100 percent focus than for 50 minutes at even 90 percent. This is also why orchestra rehearsals cannot count for practice: They are near zero on the scale of how intense one's practing can be.

No, really, how many minutes should my child play every day?

Fine. If you want your kid to get somewhere, aim to have them playing 10 times their age in minutes per day. They will need enough scales, exercises and material to work on, otherwise it will get very dull very quickly.

How long a lesson should my child have?

You should expect:

Age 5-8 15 minutes, 2x a week

Age 8-11 30 minutes, 1x a week

Age 11-13 45 minutes, 1x a week

Age 13+ 60 minutes, 1x a week

These are, of course, averages.

Do you do recitals?

Unfortunately, I'm not in a position to put on recitals. However, I do find that playing in the Spokane Youth Symphony, trying out for All-State Orchestra, State Solo & Ensemble, and MusicFest Northwest provide enough performing and social opportunities for the average student.