Written by Ruth Kasckow, flute teacher in La Canada and Pasadena
Finding the Right Flute Teacher
Finding the right flute teacher that fits your needs and goals is important for all flutists no matter what age or level. A good teacher knows how to teach skills and also knows how to nurture and inspire students for a fulfilling life of music. Taking the time to look around and ask questions can ensure a perfect fit for you.
How do I find a flute teacher? You can find a flute teacher in many ways. Ask the music teachers at the local public schools. Talk to people you know who take flute lessons. Ask at the local music stores. Search on the internet for teachers in your area. Look at teachers’ websites. You can check with professional listings too like the Music Teachers Association of California (MTAC), the Music Teachers National Association (MTNA), the National Flute Association (NFA), and the Suzuki Association of the Americas (SAA). There may also be music schools in your area that teach flute.
How do I know what teacher is best for me? I have been teaching flute for over thirty years, all ages and levels, in music schools, public schools, music stores and my private studio. I know how important it is for a student and teacher to have the right fit. There are all kinds of considerations which I feel can make the learning experience positive, fun and rewarding. I have put together a list that can help you with your search for the right flute teacher.
1. Teacher’s experience, qualifications, and music degrees: Find out how long the teacher has been teaching flute, where the teacher has taught, if the teacher has a music degree, if the teacher studied education and pedagogy. Find out if the teacher continues to study new teaching techniques, is affiliated with professional organizations, and continues to perform at a professional or amateur level.
2. Teacher’s philosophy of teaching: Find out how the teacher works with students of different ages, levels and commitments. What is the style of teaching, easy going or strict, casual or formal, etc? What method of teaching: Suzuki flute, traditional flute training, something else? Is the teacher positive, supportive, encouraging, does the teacher stress competition and rigor? How does the teacher motivate students? Does the teacher enjoy teaching? Does the teacher demonstrate for the student? Do you like the teacher’s sound and musical approach?
3. Teacher’s policy and fees: Does the teacher charge per lesson, per month or semester? How much is the fee and when is it due? What is the cancellation and make-up lesson policy? What is the schedule for the year? If applicable, does the teacher feel comfortable with parents sitting in? What is the best way to communicate-email, phone, text?
4. Assignment and practice expectations: Where are the weekly assignments written? Does the teacher expect a specific amount of practice daily? If applicable, what are the parent’s responsibilities? How does the teacher deal with conflicting responsibilities that get in the way of practice?
5. Performance opportunities: Are there studio recitals, competitions, outreach opportunities, fun events? Does the teacher foster a musical community? Does the teacher provide information to outside opportunities such as masterclasses, recitals, orchestras, music camp?.
6. Meeting the teacher for the first time: Some teachers provide a free introductory lesson. Some may suggest that you observe a lesson first. Some teachers charge for the first lesson. This is the time to get a feel for the teacher and to ask the teacher any questions. Some prospective students may want to take an introductory lesson with more than one teacher to make a decision.
Remember teachers want the best learning experience for you. The teacher wants you to feel comfortable and learn to play flute well. Studying flute with the right teacher can be an immensely rewarding experience both musically and personally. I hope this list helps you think about what is important to you in looking for a flute teacher.
Ruth Kasckow maintains a private flute studio in La Canada. Her studio is conveniently located to students in Pasadena, Glendale, La Crescenta, Altadena, San Fernando Valley, San Gabriel Valley and Los Angeles. She also teaches at Yung Mee Rhee Music Academy in La Crescenta and is affiliated with the Pasadena Suzuki Music Program in Pasadena. Ruth has her BA and MFA in flute performance, is a Licensed Andover Educator teaching Body Mapping, has her Suzuki Certification in flute, performs in freelance orchestras and solo recitals, and works at the local elementary schools as a woodwind instructor. Feel free to contact Ruth with any questions.