Meri’s Musical Musings

The advantages of team-teaching music lessons

Posted on: March 1, 2012

Many private music teachers work alone, sometimes in a defensive manner in an attempt to guard what they think are their “secrets of success”. However, for just over 9 of the past 12 1/2 years I have taught private music lessons, I have worked as part of a team of teachers with my husband, and a larger close network of teachers of instruments that neither myself or my husband teach. I would like to discuss some of the advantages of team teaching.

1. Teachers are more accountable to each other. Many of the musical charlatans, the most famous one probably being Scott Houston, who ran a franchise called “Play Piano in a Flash”, work alone. And they rarely if ever expose themselves to a wider community of musicians, both where they live, in their country, and around the world. But the teachers who work as part of a team, especially if there are just two or three teachers, tend to keep the musical standards very high. Students of teachers who work alone sometimes have tone or rhythm problems for example, which is far less likely to happen in a team situation because the relationship can partially depend on those high standards.

2. Sets of siblings taking lessons sometimes can be a challenge for teachers who work alone. However, for teachers that work together, one teacher can teach a student while another “babysits” the other sibling(s), perhaps by doing musical drawing activities.

3. Teachers can help remind each other of upcoming deadlines. For example, I am much better at remembering deadlines to register for auditions, competitions, and exams than my husband. In addition, sometimes I am the one who sends the reminders about upcoming deadlines for these events to parents of his students.

4. A team of teachers can assist each other. For example, I have no trouble teaching the repertoire, studies, technical elements, sight reading, and orchestral excerpts for clarinet up to Level 9. But I have had challenges with teaching the ear requirements for students beyond level 6 RCM. (Ear requirements are identical across every instrument), unless the student is quite a natural at it. My husband, however, has much more experience teaching the ear requirements at those levels, and can play the melodic dictation much better than I can at the higher levels. Not only that, but the piano parts for the clarinet students I teach, except for some parts in the first two levels, are almost always quite difficult to very difficult for even an early advanced level pianist, if they have little time to practice. But my husband can play them fluently, either because he’s played the music before, or because of his really fine sight-reading skills. Conversely, perhaps because of my wind instrument training, I sometimes catch his piano students cutting their longer notes (anything longer than a quarter note) too early, and can mention it to him.

5. Music teams can bounce off ideas between each other, and find or create new resources. For example, Finale Notepad 2012 became available for free for the first time in several years, which I distributed copies to mine and his students who wanted it on a CD-ROM I made after downloading it online. I have also found printable music games and resources for students and parents to use in lessons. My husband has used several of these resources I found or created.

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  • None
  • V V: Wish I had read this before I fell for their scheme ! Oh well - have posted my experience on Yelp and N49 and hoping others can avoid the pain of fal
  • clariniano: Thanks for the additional information. It was actually Yelp that deleted my reviews, because of so-called bias. I too have seen the horrible technique
  • No Thanks: Former Teacher at the Ontario Conservatory of Music I took lessons at the Ontario Conservatory and when I left for private lessons from another tea
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