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What qualifications?

Posted By: Chris H.

What qualifications? - 11/13/06 10:51 AM

This is a spin off from the 'Time to vent' thread.

I have often wondered why there is no recognised qualification for private music teachers. There are so many different degrees, diplomas, exams and courses out there. What do you think should be the standard for piano teachers?

I have students who tell me they can't wait to reach grade 8 becaouse this means they will be able to teach. I don't know where they get this idea. Having grade 8 (mainly ABRSM over here) might show that you can play to a reasonable standard but it says nothing about your teaching ability or aptitude.

My own training involved ABRSM grades, university music degree course and post grad teacher training. Since then I have taken performing diplomas and recently returned to a local conservatoire for a post grad diploma in performance. None of this training really showed me how to teach piano. The advanced individual lessons were helpful and I learned a lot from the various teachers I had. Most of what I know has come from actual teaching experience.

As a side line, when I first started to teach privately, I also trained as a driving instructor. In the UK this industry is heavily regulated. I had to take 3 strenuous exams which took me the best part of a year to qualify. The first exam was a written theory test. The second was a gruelling practical test of my own driving standard. The third (and most stressful) was a test of teaching ability. In this final test the regional chief examiner would play the role of a student. He would select random skills from the syllabus and sit there while you try to teach him. You have to pass each element within a time limit and if you fail any part more than twice you must start all over again wiht the theory test. Passing these tests allows you to be on the register of approved driving instructors. You must display a license in your vehicle at all times without which it is illegal to charge for instruction. Every instructor has regular check tests where an examiner will sit in on a lesson to make sure your teaching is still up to scratch.

I know that road safety is important and the standard of teaching must be high. I also think that education is important and more efforts should be made to check on private teachers. I wish there were a similar system in place for private music teachers. Other relevant qualifications like degrees and diplomas could be used as exemption to the theory and practical elements. Bt everybody should have to undergo some sort of test of teaching ability in order to set up as a private teacher.

What are your views on this?
Posted By: Piano&Violin

Re: What qualifications? - 11/13/06 11:10 AM

German universities offer a degree called instrumental pedagogy for piano or other instruments. Students who take this degree often take another degree as concert pianist before or after. That sounds like a good foundation.
Posted By: drumour

Re: What qualifications? - 11/13/06 11:38 AM

There are/were teaching diplomas from the Royal Schools of Music. I don't think you can still get L.R.A.M. or A.R.C.M. teaching diplomas. They used to be the standard professional qualifications for instrumental teaching. Those without a degree would generally do both.

Posted By: signa

Re: What qualifications? - 11/13/06 09:23 PM

the point is if there's any national organization on piano teaching with the authority to impose such teaching requirements or qualifications? if piano teachers are like those lawyers who have to pass some bar exams before becoming an official lawyer to take cases, then we wouldn't have such an issue anymore.
Posted By: Tim Parkin

Re: What qualifications? - 11/13/06 09:30 PM

Chris, I maybe misunderstanding your precise point here; are you questioning the value of existing teaching diploma ? (and also perhaps the fact that the public maybe mislead or unaware of the significance of those available)... I think that most exam authorities offering diplomas offer teacher 'versions' ... dipABRSM / LRSM (which was introduced to replace external LRAM/ARCM mentioned above) LTCL/LLCM etc ....
Posted By: Chris H.

Re: What qualifications? - 11/13/06 10:39 PM

Tim, I am not questioning the value of the diplomas you mention. The ABRSM do allow you to specialise in teaching throughout their diplomas as do Trinity college. I know the ABRSM also offer a teaching certificate. Then there is a PGCE which gives you qualified teacher status and allows you to teach in schools. I suppose what I'm saying is that (according to the other thread) most people believe piano teachers should be qualified. The thing is that because there is no qualification required to teach piano nobody is very clear about what those qualifications should be. Why do the ABRSM offer different teaching qualifications and which are most worthwhile? What level of qualification should you need to become a piano teacher?
Posted By: Piano&Flute

Re: What qualifications? - 11/13/06 11:57 PM

I think this is a very valid question. There are many different conservatory and university music programs out there. I don't think the question is really how valid they are but that there are many people out there who teach private music lessons with nowhere close to this level of training. I, for one consider completing Grade 8 conservatory upper intermediate. I have no idea where this theory that Grade 8 is enough to teach came from although I have heard it many times.

A conservatory diploma or university degree doesn't automatically make a great teacher, but it does prove a competent level of education. This is a starting point for parents. Every other type of job screens applicants for proper education before even doing an interview. Unfortunately some parents don't bother to inquire about a potential music teachers training much less ask questions about their teaching. Many times the only questions I am asked on the phone are what I charge for lessons and if I have a certain time available.

I am sure there are some wonderful, experienced teachers without a full education however I would venture to say that the chances of finding one are less likely than finding a great teacher with a diploma or degree. As a parent, I wouldn't put my child in lessons for anything with someone who lacked proper training and experience. I certainly wouldn't pay the going rate for private lessons to an unqualified person either.
Posted By: Chris H.

Re: What qualifications? - 11/14/06 07:45 AM

Just to clarify things a little more. With so many different qualifications available it must be very difficult for parents to make a decision when asking this question. Lets say for example you call a teacher who tells you they have ABRSM grade 8 or even DipABRSM. It sounds great, but how many parents know what DipABRSM is? These qualifications can be gained without knowing a thing about teaching. I know a teacher down the road who tells people that her grade 6 piano qualifies her to teach their kids piano. This might sound impressive to those with little knowledge. This teacher charges the going rate for the area. I can't charge much more because as Stephanief says most people are only interested in the price and time slot.

Signa makes a good point. Of course there is an organisation for teachers. It is the department for education. Every classroom teacher in UK schools must be registered and qualified. You get a reference number which stays with you for life. Why this could not be extended to private teachers I don't know. All the different courses and qualifications could then be used to gain QTS (qualified teacher status) just like school teachers and parents would know where they stand.
Posted By: Piano&Flute

Re: What qualifications? - 11/14/06 03:13 PM

So true, Chris H. All of the registered music teachers associations in Canada require a minimum of a conservatory diploma (RCM ARTC usually) or university music degree plus a record of four years of teaching to become a member. You can apply with less education, however you have to then have a record of 10 years teaching experience with references and pass an exam put on by the association. They also offer piano ped classes many times a year for their members. I am sure there are organizations like this in the U.S. as well, and they should be mandatory to teach.

It is unfair to the parent. When I go to see a professional; a teacher in the school system, doctor, lawyer, dentist, accountant, etc. I automatically assume that they are at least qualified to be able to practice.

I don't know about the other music conservatory programs, but the RCM gives out certificates for each grade you pass. I know many teachers here who say that they are RCM "certified" to teach beginner piano. This sounds very official, even though the certificate could be in any grade. They are taking advantage of the fact that parents will assume it means more than it does.

Actually having experience teaching and knowing how to teach is obvioulsy extremly important. However, I also think it is much harder to judge simply because there are so many different things that a student can be looking for. So much of a good fit between teacher and student comes down to personality and what the student is looking to learn in their lessons. I personally look for qualifications first, then interview or do a trial lesson to get a better idea.
Posted By: dumdumdiddle

Re: What qualifications? - 11/14/06 07:49 PM

While on the surface it may seem like a good idea to have a 'licensing of piano teachers' so to speak, I don't want the government regulating yet another industry. My goodness, just look at our public education system. Billions of $$ are put into that system annually and yet students still perform UNDER the level of other western nations.

That's why I think it's important to have organizations like MTNA for teachers to join. They have to have certain credentials and generally speaking, these organizations have very high standards. Students who take lessons with an MTNA teacher have numerous opportunities to perform and compete and further their musical education.

It's ultimately the parent's responsibility to find a qualified teacher. Educating parents about what to look for in a qualified piano teacher is as challenging as actually teaching a student.
Posted By: BBobb

Re: What qualifications? - 11/15/06 01:05 AM

I have seen national certification available through MTNA too.
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