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Finding The Right Dance Or Music Teacher

Ranjani Saigal

Check out the previous article on choosing the right art form

New England is very fortunate to have very talented and sincere teachers.  Since teaching art is a very large commitment for which the financial returns are small, anyone who takes this up as a must necessarily be good and care about the arts and the spreading of it. It is not something anyone does lightly.
Given this are their guidelines to pick one teacher over another? The answer is yes.  Here is a recommended list of steps.

1. Check out a list of teachers who teach the art form you like. http://www.lokvani.com/lokvani/arts.php?stage=1&sub_cat_id=11 is a great place to start.
2. Pick a teacher that is close to your home. Long distance driving can be very stressful for you and the child and there is a high dropout rate
3. Learn about the teacher and her style from friends who have them as teachers.  
4. Sit in a class and see the teacher in action. You will learn a lot about the style of teaching from this.
5. Visit a couple of teachers so you can compare styles of teaching.

How do teaching styles vary? In the case of dance, there are teachers who may emphasize breadth and teach different styles as opposed to other who may pick one style and emphasize depth.  Some may believe in creating early opportunities for stage shows while others may wait a while before allowing students on stage.  Dance styles even with a genre vary. Pick a teacher who works with your philosophy and whose dance style appeals to you.

 In the case of music also the teaching methodology can vary widely.  Some vocal teachers teach Bhajans along with Harmonium playing. Others may follow traditional teaching methodology.

One mistake that one may commit is to compare students who have learnt under different teachers. Each teacher has brilliant students. Make sure when you compare students you are comparing students who are at the same level.

It is also very important to feel comfortable with the teacher. Make sure that you have a good communication with the teacher.  Going to a teacher that your friends’ children are learning from  is a good idea  for the children have a familiar social group they will help inspire each other.

You as a parent have a significant role to play in your child’s learning the art form. While the child meets the teacher once a week, they see you every day.  Encouraging and supporting practice is a critical part of learning process. In the west and east, anytime you meet a great classical artist they invariably will credit their talent to the support they received from mom or dad. Mozart is a fine example.  In my fifteen years of teaching I have come to realize that the fine students have God to thank for the talent bestowed on them and in most case their mothers who support them in their efforts. 

 One major area where parents need to help is with time management especially when the child is older.  Competing interests often move children away from practicing for it failure in the art has the least consequences. But it is a problem that manifests itself in many ways later in other walks of life.  Hard work and time management is perhaps the most useful side benefits that emerge out of the learning of classical arts which is why colleges value it.
Another area that parents can help is taking to their children to music and dance concerts by leading musicians.  It is perhaps the most important part of the teaching process. Check out the Lokvani calendar for events.

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