Finding a good flute teacher can feel like a daunting task – there are so many out there! How do you know which one is right for you??? Here are 10 tips you might find helpful as you start your search
Finding the perfect flute teacher can be a difficult and intimidating process. With so many options available, it can be hard to know where to start. But don’t worry! Here I offer 10 tips that will help you find a flute teacher who is the perfect match for you. Whether you are a beginner or an experienced flutist, these tips will make your search easier and less stressful.
There is a teacher for every type of student, every age and every budget, so let’s help match with you with your ideal teacher!
#1 Decide what is important to your flute practice
It may seem like an obvious place to start, but you’ll want to really understand what things will be important to you and your progress before you start even looking for teachers. Here are a few of the things to consider: What are your goals? How fast you want to reach those goals? What level are you starting at? What are your learning styles? What motivates you? Do you want to learn for fun and in a relaxed manner or do you want to be pushed out of your comfort zone for fast progress? Does your schedule only allow for ad hoc lessons or do want to held accountable for weekly lessons?
Once you start narrowing down all these questions, you can start to paint a picture of what your ideal teacher might look like. Now you can start doing a bit of research. Google local flute teachers, search for teachers on YouTube, and search the listings on local flute association websites (like the British Flute Society) or shops (like Just Flutes in London).
Essentially you just want to familiarise yourself with the range of options out there. Try to note all the different styles of teaching and think about which one you would prefer. All this research will help you finish painting that mental picture of your ideal teacher, which will be important to hold on to as you search.
(Side note: I whole-heartedly believe there is an ideal teacher out there for everyone. This isn’t like dating; it’s not unreasonable to expect your teacher to fit all of your requirements. There are some AMAZING and EXCELLENT teachers out there that just aren’t right for you, your goals and your needs. And that’s totally OK. That doesn’t make you a bad student or them a bad teacher. You just aren’t the right match for each other. Lessons should be something you look forward to, and the only way you’ll reach that point is to find someone will be the right combination of inspiring and motivating for you. Right. Rant over. 😂)
#2 Ask for recommendations for flute teachers
I feel this tip has to come with a disclaimer considering the above point: Just because a teacher comes recommended, doesn’t mean they’re automatically a good fit for you.
However, that said, it can be useful to ask around for some recommendations for possible flute teachers. Do you know anyone who already studies the flute? Ask them if they’re taking lessons and what their lessons are like if so. Get in touch with any local music schools or universities to see if they can recommend any teachers. These aren’t guaranteed to be the right match for you, but it is a good place to start!
#3 Read reviews of flute teachers
Reading reviews can be a valuable tool in narrowing down your list of potential flute teachers. The reviews will often help give you a sense of the teacher’s teaching style, personality and approach, and their strengths. Reviews can offer a rounded picture of the teacher and help you decide whether they are the right fit for you.
The reviews will also often help give you a sense of the types of students the teacher has worked with in the past and what sort of goals that teacher has helped their students achieve.
#4 Check out their flute recordings or performances
See if you can find some recordings or performances of potential teachers and have a listen. Do you like the way they sound? What about how they play and interpret pieces? Does their playing generally inspire you?
#5 Find out more about their teaching philosophy
Have a read through the teacher’s website and bio to help determine if their teaching philosophy lines up with your needs and goals. Sometimes teachers will specifically outline their philosophies, highlighting what they find important and what sort of ideas they like to pass on to their students. (You can read my teaching philosophy here.) But even if they don’t specifically highlight their philosophy, it’s generally easy to get a sense of it through they way they present themselves on their website.
Does the teacher come across as positive, encouraging, inspiring or supportive? Do they seem to approach their teaching in a more casual manner or do they come across as a down-to-business teacher? How do they motivate their students?
Based on the answers you came up with for Tip #1, you’ll know what you’re looking for here. For example, if you’re a beginner who wants to learn for fun, you’ll want a teacher who teaches in a more casual manner and stresses creating a safe and motivational environment for learning. Or if you’re looking for more performance opportunities, you’ll want a teacher who stresses the importance of performing and offers lots of opportunities for you to participate in.
#6 Do they offer or insist on performance opportunities?
Speaking of performance opportunities, this can be a helpful factor when trying to narrow down potential teachers. Was performing one of the things you’ve identified in Tip #1 as an important aspect of your learning? If so, you’ll want to look for teachers who offer lots of performance opportunities – flute choirs, studio recitals, community performances, etc.
However, if you’re a beginner, or maybe even just someone who wants to play for your own enjoyment and are nervous about or uninterested in performing, you might want to avoid teachers who require their students to participate in regular performances.
#7 Ask about their fees and studio policies
How much does the teacher charge and how do they structure their fees (do they allow you to pay per lesson, or do you have to buy blocks of lessons)? Do they charge any additional fees beyond the cost of lessons (i.e. are you expected to buy certain materials or is there a one-time sign-up fee?).
Just like with any other product or service, flute lessons can vary in price and quality. There are loads of factors that will contribute to that variety, including level of education, experience and location. Some teachers will offer discounts on blocks of lessons or provide more value for your fees, like supplemental materials, community access or online lesson portals. Taking all these things into consideration can help you find the teacher that best suits your budget and learning needs.
Also be sure to look into a potential teacher’s studio policies. What are their policies on cancelations, absences or make-ups? Are parents allowed to sit in on lessons? Is between-lesson practice expected or only appreciated? What are acceptable ways to get in touch with the teacher (email, phone, etc) and does that teacher allow you to contact them outside of lessons for support?
#8 Consider lesson scheduling – do they have flexible options that work for you?
This can be another important factor in finding the right match for you: what are your scheduling needs? Do you need lessons outside work or school hours? Do you work shift hours so that you’ll need to option to be flexible with your lesson times, which may need to change every week? Do you work afternoons and nights so that you’ll need a teacher who can hold lessons in the morning?
Every teacher has different availability and different policies on how flexible their time is, so make sure you know what will suit your needs and find a teacher that is able to offer lessons during that time.
#9 Don’t be afraid to ask questions!
Never be afraid to ask a potential teacher questions about their teaching, qualifications and approach. It might be worth asking if they have any openings for students, whether they teach your age or level, and where their lessons are taught. Any teacher worth their salt would be happy to answer questions to any of the information above as they’ll know how important it is to find that perfect student-teacher match.
However, that said, be mindful of asking for free advice or technical help, which is unfair and takes advantage of the teacher’s time.
#10 Set up a trial flute lesson
Finally, once you think you’ve narrowed down your options, ask to set up a trial lesson with the teacher. Generally the trial lessons will be free or at a discount, as this will be a chance for you to get to know each other and make sure you’d be happy with work with them. These one-off trials are a great way to get a glimpse at their teaching style and allow you the opportunity to ask any questions (even for advice or technical help!).
It’s also worth remembering that your choice is NEVER permanent. If you’ve started working with a teacher and decided they’re not right for you, you can politely let them know that it’s not working for you and find another teacher.
Having a good student-teacher relationship is so incredibly important. A teacher who is a perfect match for you will be able to play to your strengths and work through your weaknesses. They will know how to motivate you and how to make sure you’re getting the most from your lessons. The right teacher will make sure that you have an enjoyable learning experience and that you look forward to every single lesson.
All this research will pay off once you find that ideal teacher for you, I promise! Good luck in your search and happy fluting friends!