Finding a Private Flute Teacher

OK, so you and/or your parents have decided that your progress in music will be aided by an investment in private flute lessons. Now, the question is, how do you find the best teacher for you? The following is a list of suggestions for ways to find the teacher that will best fit your abilities and goals.

1 – Compile a list of local teachers

Ask your band director, other flute students, and local music stores for their recommendations. You can even look online for local youth orchestra websites, colleges or universities, or even contact your local musician's union. You may have to make a call to the university music office or musician's union office, and ask if they have a reference list for those willing to give private lessons on your instrument. Nowadays, there are often websites for local flute societies or associations. The National Flute Association also has a list of flutists who give lessons (the NFA only supplies contact info for members, but you can always look up a local teacher through other sources, if they are on that NFA list).

2 – Call SEVERAL of the teachers on your compiled list.

Tell them that you are interested in lessons. At this point, they may ask you a few questions about yourself and your playing. Before you get off the phone, find out all of the following (and write the answers down for future review):

A - How long have they been teaching?
B – What is their flute background (are they a performer? do they have any degrees in music? from what school did they graduate?)
C – Ask how much they charge for lessons, and what their policy is for missed lessons.
D – Do they offer a trial lesson, before you have to commit long-term? (These are usually regular-priced lessons, but some teachers may offer an introductory price for the first one).
E – Do they have a school grade level or level of playing that they consider their specialty?

3 – Narrowing down your choices.

Compare the teachers on your list (with your parents, if applicable), and narrow it down to no more than five possibilities. Use these general guidelines:

For beginners: Make sure that you have an EXPERIENCED teacher, who specializes in beginners (if possible).

For middle school or high school: If you are hoping to make progress toward a career or college scholarships in music, make sure that the teachers you choose have at least a bachelor's degree in music (preferably a performance degree), or that they are current professional performers who can give you a list of their ensemble connections.

College or Adult: Try to find teachers who have instructed other adult students, and who are willing to be flexible in their teaching style. Adult students tend to have a strong idea of what their goals are with their playing (whether it is preparing to be a symphony musician, a recording artist,or just improving enough to play with the local community orchestra), and a teacher who places their own agenda before yours may not be a good fit.

4 – Your first lessons. From any of the teachers in your top five that offer an introductory lesson, choose your favorite, and set up a short half-hour lesson.

Items to take to your first lesson: instrument(s); any band or orchestra music that you are currently playing in an ensemble; any solo music that you may have (even specialty stuff like Christmas or popular music). The music that you take should be stuff that is close to your level, or slightly easy for you (not the stuff you mastered two years ago). The teacher will most likely want to hear you play something you know, so that they can evaluate your playing better. (Judging how someone plays when they are sightreading is not usually as effective).

It's common for parents to be invited to sit in on their child's first lesson, but that will likely not be the case for any future lessons. Teachers understand that they are being judged and evaluated by both students and parents in their first lesson, just as much as they are studying and learning about you.

5 – The WOW factor (evaluating your lesson).

Did you walk out of that first lesson with a feeling of awe? Did they point out areas of your playing that you yourself knew were problems and show you ways to work towards fixing them? Were you able to come out a better flute player than when you walked in?


If the answer to any of the above questions was no, go back to your list of teachers, and try someone else. For any number of reasons, you may come back and decide that this teacher is the best one for you. But if you did not walk out of that first lesson with some completely new ideas about playing, keep looking for now.

6 – What to expect as a regular student.

As a new student, you will likely be asked to spend a little bit of money. You might want to budget about $50 for new music, especially if you don't have any solo or duet collections that are at your current level.

Plan your lesson into your regular schedule, so that you do not miss it. Most teachers charge for missed lessons, because they are ready and available to teach, even if you don't show up.

You will also need to set up a regular practice schedule, with a length of time anywhere from 15 minutes a day to 1 hour a day (or even more for those aspiring to become college music majors).

If you begin to get tired of practicing, be sure to talk about it with your teacher, and maybe they can come up with some pieces that will make practicing a more enjoyable experience.

Be sure to keep your teacher informed about any music goals that you have in mind. If your band director tells you about a special music event at school, don't expect that your private teacher already knows about it, because they may not. Some competitions are run through the Music Educators Association, which does not allow private teachers to become members (only school band directors and school music teachers can be members).

On the other hand, there are several opportunities that your private flute teacher can prepare you for, that you may not have even known about without being a private student. If you are interested in summer music camps, or youth orchestras, or competitions with other flutes, be sure to mention that to your private teacher. They should be happy to do a little bit of research to help you find activities that will you will enjoy and which will help you become a better player.

And one last thing: Have fun and . . . PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE!!!