Should Piano Teaching Be Regulated?

Supporting Teachers • Promoting Learning
Written by ANDREW EALES


Please note: this intended audience for this article is UK educators. The regulation of music teaching in other countries may vary considerably, and is not discussed in this post.

The thorny question of whether piano teachers should be legally required to have particular qualifications before “being allowed” to teach cropped up online this week. Sadly, I once again found myself consoling able teachers who felt invalidated by the comments and hubris of others.

It is surely obvious that gaining qualifications should be a basic goal for all professionals. However, it seems equally evident that here in the UK, music teachers enter the profession via many different but complementary routes. A background in performing, the knowledge and skills developed in other professions and through our lived experience all contribute to who we are as teachers, and that’s a virtue which many rightly celebrate.

I believe that it is a mistake to conflate good teaching with qualifications. Consider the point that most of us can remember qualified teachers from our school days who weren’t very good. Similarly, most of us have met truly inspiring music educators with little or no formal training.

Minimum qualifications could only be mandated in a context where the music teaching profession becomes a regulated one, in which private teaching is monitored and many excellent professionals are shut out. I would hate to see this happen, and in any case very much doubt that politicians have an appetite for imposing regulatory monitoring of private tuition or musical activity in the community.

That said, for the benefit of those colleagues who are more interested in the idea, let’s consider what a regulated music teaching profession might look like, and how that might impact educational opportunity and community music making…

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