When Sunshine told us, at age 5, that she wanted to learn to play the violin, my husband and I were elated. I took both piano and violin lessons in my teens. I’ve always hoped my girls would show an interest in music. We had only one problem: we didn’t know where to find a music teacher. Because I didn’t know about the Royal Conservatory of Music‘s online National Music Teacher Directory, we relied on personal recommendations.
That year, because Sunshine was busy with Kindergarten and we were busy with our own studies, we let music lessons go. The following year, when Sunshine started Grade 1, we moved to a new town and met a violin teacher. Both she and her husband played and taught violin, and her children were all musically accomplished. I immediately asked if she was taking new students.
Sunshine started violin lessons that September two years ago. For the first few weeks, she was excited and learned quickly. Then the novelty wore off. She began to be silly at her lessons and reluctant to practice. Her teacher kept encouraging her, saying Sunshine had talent and was doing well. I found it harder to see her talent and wondered if she was too young to begin lessons. Only her teacher’s enthusiasm and encouragement kept us going.
Then we moved again, from Vancouver Island to Vancouver. As homeschoolers, the switch was relatively easy—I simply unpacked our books and started school again within a week of our move. Finding a new violin teacher was harder. When new friends in the city asked us if we needed anything, I said, “A violin teacher.” I followed up on several referrals, but couldn’t find a teacher. Finally, several months after our move, a friend mentioned a music studio she knew about.
For the first month, we repeated her first pattern of music lessons: excitement at something new, followed by silliness and procrastination. Daily practicing became a fight. Violin lessons became an exercise in patience. Sunshine’s teacher displayed endless patience for her antics, while I silently steamed and came up with creative discipline methods. However, her second teacher repeated her first teacher’s comments about her talent and potential.
Last September, Sunshine’s music teacher resumed his monthly recitals. Sunshine prepared a small piece to play for the rest of his students and their parents. Remembering my own childhood recitals, I went, expecting multiple renditions of “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.” I was completely blown away by the talent displayed at the recital. It lasted 3 hours and showcased students from Sunshine’s age up to teens who were playing long etudes by memory.
In the last year, Sunshine has made leaps and bounds in her violin studies. While there are still days when she doesn’t want to practice or acts silly at her lessons, for the most part, this is again something she has chosen to do. For homeschool camp this summer, she memorized two pieces to perform at the talent show. On the night of the show, she waltzed down the aisle playing and smiling. Her award at the end of camp was “Violinist with Attitude.”
What I wish I’d known about two years ago is the Royal Conservatory of Music’s online National Music Teacher Directory. This would have made it so much easier to find a teacher when Sunshine first expressed interest and after we moved. It would have prevented that three-month gap in Sunshine’s lessons. Personal referrals haven’t really been the most effective way for us to find music teachers!
The National Music Teacher Directory allows parents to search for music teachers by discipline and distance. You can select what your child is studying and how far you are willing to drive them to lessons. Then you can view all the available teachers. The website lists their address and contact information, and whether they have a private studio or teach at a music store or other centre.
This fall, Lily will be starting keyboard lessons, at the same studio where Sunshine takes violin. I’m excited they will both be doing music lessons. I’ve always wished my parents had pushed me harder at a younger age, instead of waiting until I expressed interest in lessons in my teens. Whether music opens up future opportunities for the girls, or simply provides enjoyment for them, I know these lessons are valuable for them.
If your children are interested in music lessons, I highly recommend checking out the RCM National Music Teacher Directory. A good music teacher can make a big difference for a child!
I received compensation for this post; all opinions expressed are my own.