First Teachers

For those of you who have had musical instrument lessons over many years, have you ever thought about your first teacher and subsequent teachers. What were your perceptions of these teachers and what did you gain from your experiences with these teachers?

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The first teacher you had is mostly like to be remembered as warm, kind, fun, and engaging. This is if you were one of those high achieving students. Unfortunately, some young students remember their first teachers as unfriendly and incompetent. This is a common response and perception of first teachers for lower achieving students (Davidson, Howe, and Sloboda, 1997).

As the students become older, the high achievers start to distinguish between teachers. In particular, their teachers’ personality and professionalism. Older, high achieving¬†students start to perceive professional quality as as an important aspect in their teachers. Low achieving students do not get to this point and are unable to differentiate between qualities of teachers. They keep to their original perceptions, and further, because the teacher was pleasant they also thought the teacher to be professionally competent. These are also the students who are most likely to drop instrumental lessons.

First teachers hold an important position in the early musical development of young children. Their influence continues on throughout the lives of those students who continue with instrumental lessons, whether knowingly or not. First teachers set the stage for the motivation of future musical studies.


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