A good teacher will put you first; more specifically, they will always put your feelings first. This point is perhaps the most important, but the hardest topic on which to give advice because each person’s experience is different based on their perspective. The feelings felt during a first lesson should be disregarded; this lesson is when a teacher is most likely trying to impress a potential client.
First impressions matter and so they, the teacher, will try to make a good first impression on you, likely trying very hard to ‘win over’ an emotive response. From my personal experiences, a teacher who is trying to impress you is a teacher to be wary of; however, this might be due to nerves (yes, even teachers can get nervous also). It is worth considering that any grounded and centred human being will never need to compensate externally when they are balanced internally; a teacher who needs to impress a student obviously feels intimidated by the student. Furthermore, it proves that the interaction is about the teacher and not the student’s learning.
When the first lesson with a student is conducted, it is always a diagnostic-lesson to see what they know and what can be done for them. I try to put them at ease, but I do not make any attempt to ‘dazzle’ them with my piano playing or ‘woo’ them with flattery. I take my work seriously, and so my main concern is always, regardless of monetary gain, “Can I actually help you?”.
Considering the human being in front of a teacher requires a certain amount of sensitivity and empathy. If in the first lesson, a teacher is lacking an empathetic response to your personal struggles in music making regarding anxiety or nerves, or more worryingly being insensitive to your deficits in technical ability or musical understanding, it is a sign that they are not the right teacher for you (and in my opinion not very good at their job). To put it another way, if in the first lesson the teacher is already belittling and berating you in a covert way, it is a sure sign that they will do it more overtly later in the process; beware.
Dylan completed his music training with honours at Colchester Institute, where he studied piano with Australian pianist Lesley Young, and composition with British composer Dr Mark Bellis. While studying, in 2009, Dylan won Colchester Institute’s Canon Jack Award for Solo Piano adjudicated by Andrew Ball. A composer, promoter, and advocate of contemporary classical music, Dylan joined the membership of Colchester New Music in 2014.
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