From Stephen Hough’s blog
Aside from the standard qualities — open-mindedness, clear analytical thinking and communication, patience, experience — I would add teaching how to sound things out on one’s own. If the student only ever uses sheet music to play, the teacher is failing them.
ANY music teacher should give more than occasional assignments to listen to a favorite piece of music, figure out the melody — and if this involves whatever top-40 stuff is on the radio at the time, then the teacher should grit their goddamned teeth and deal — and come back with it written down on a piece of staff paper.
For piano students, the student should then be sent home and told to figure out a left hand. Single-note instrument students should be told to come back next week with some ornaments or embellishments figured out.
These assignments should be given routinely, as well as the majority of the teaching which of course would be technique based.
I rarely to never see this mentioned, mostly because most piano teachers can’t do it. If this were considered part of the standard pedagogy, most teachers would be disqualified. Tough.
It’s occurred to me that the best teachers in general (not just music) that I’ve had were the ones who, even as a child, didn’t much acknowledge me aside from simply communicating the material as best they could.
They weren’t trying to be my “friend,” they weren’t trying to “hang out,” and they weren’t trying to shepherd me through Life’s Trials. They were concentrating on the information and trying to get it across in as clear and unambiguous a way as possible. The absolute best ones had a method of communicating that matched well with how I conceptualized things; my previous viola teacher was one of those. Exceptionally good communicator, and particularly for me since he was a techie type. Fluffy artists and I don’t tend to think of things in the same way, and too much handwaving and rainbows get on my nerves. I tend to feel that people who communicate that way do so because they don’t actually know how to explain what they are doing so they hide behind cotton-candy clouds and platitudes.
At any rate, a concise, clear explanation that pays more attention to the subject matter than to me is best. Things work best when the teacher and student don’t have their eyes on each other but both are looking at the material. That makes them partners instead of opponents.