Meri’s Musical Musings

Why getting a scholarship (or work-study program) to take lessons from a good teacher is far better than getting cheap lessons (particularly for prospective music majors)

Posted on: January 9, 2016

  1. The good teachers usually have lots of connections, and sometimes gigs that they cannot do themselves but will refer a good student. The poor quality teachers usually lack connections and gigs, especially paying ones.
  2. A work-study program with a good teacher will give you a leg up on how to run a viable music career, especially if the teacher also performs concerts regularly, composes music, arranges music, or writes about music. They may need you to put together the concert programs, proofread the programs, make many copies, hand out programs, page turning and ushers at concerts, writing out music from a teacher’s handwritten notes on manuscript paper to extracting the parts, putting parts and scores together, and publishing them online, to tagging their blog posts with keywords which they may not have time or energy for. The low priced teachers typically rarely to never perform, and so cannot offer this kind of work, especially with teaching becoming an increasingly poor way to make money, that performance can be a good way to make a lot of money for an hour or two’s work. Depending on the amount earned from the concert, the student may even get some funds for themselves.
  3. The good teacher with the work-study program that would otherwise be unaffordable will give you a much better chance at earning music scholarships, not only for the quality of playing, but also for the breadth of experience working in music they have already had some exposure and training in.
  4. Music programs after high school usually know who the good teachers are and sometimes the ones who are not so good in producing quality audition candidates. That’s one reason they regularly ask for the name of private teacher, because they track who the best and worst ones are coming from.
  5. The good teachers on a work-study program usually have connections to the instruments you are learning and planning to audition on for those programs, and you can get some inside tips and advice on your playing without having to pay extra. Lessons from cheap teachers often lack those connections. I have connections to the clarinet faculty at two of Toronto’s universities, and some of the piano ones at both even though I don’t teach advanced piano. (though my husband does)
  6. The scholarship/work study program teacher will expose you to a variety of concepts and pieces that will be useful in your advanced pursuit of music studies, such as dealing with nerves, advanced music theory (some require basic harmony skills), piano skills, sight singing (which is often required even for non vocal major auditions), choices of pieces that meet the audition requirements but also show you off at your best, perhaps have an accompanist for you. The cheap teacher will likely not have any of these extras, or at most one or two.
  7. Finally, scholarships from a good teacher means you are probably going to learn good technique in playing your instruments, while with inexpensive teachers, it’s often possible to develop very poor habits that could limit or end your music career, sometimes even while studying for a music degree—or sooner!

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  • 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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