How to Choose the right Piano Teacher
Deciding on a piano teacher is a very personal choice. You’re going to want someone who can encourage you and nurture a desire and passion for playing the piano. A good piano teacher is also a friend and mentor in addition to an instructor
Piano teacher directories and resources can help you find a piano teacher. In addition to searching on google for piano teachers in your area.
Communication Is Essential
When it comes to finding piano lessons, talking to other students about your criteria and goals is important successfully finding the right fit.
Follow these simple rules to help make sure you choose a teacher who is the right fit for you:
- Share your thoughts with friends, family, and colleagues. Some of them may already be acquainted with piano teachers in your area.
- Look for reviews and recommendations from local schools and teacher associations like MTNA.
- Have preliminary lessons with prospective teachers, ideally face to face, before committing to lessons for the long term.
- If possible, attend a recital of that teacher’s students.
- Talk to some of the prospective teacher’s students, both past and present.
Make your goals and expectations clear
Ask yourself several important questions before beginning your teacher search will save time and ensure that you find the best teacher for your particular needs. Consider the following questions:
- What do you want to learn from piano lessons?
- What are your tastes in music, and your ambitions?
- What aspects of playing piano are you most interested in?
- Would you like to engage in a group class or would you feel more at home with private instruction?
- How much time can you devote to practicing the piano on a daily basis?
- Do you aim to be able to play with others in the local community band or in your church?
- What musical style (Classical, Jazz, Pop, etc.) are you looking to learn?
- Do you want to read notation and understand basic music theory, or do you only want to play by ear?
By making your goals and expectations for piano lessons clear and sticking to them, you’ll have a better chance of knowing if the teachers you interview are the right fit for you.
How to Interview a Prospective Piano Teacher
Interviewing potential piano instructors is a very appropriate way of meeting one that will fulfill your needs. When interviewing a teacher for the first time, pay attention to the dynamic of your communication. This is exemplary of how your lessons will end up progressing. The teacher will ideally be open to questions and willing to share information about their won experience, skills, and style. Most good teachers will also be able to demonstrate to you. Be wary of a teacher who refuses to play themselves!
The following questions are good ones to ask a potential piano teacher:
- What is your personal and professional experience with music?
- What experience do you have teaching?
- What age groups are you most comfortable with?
- Do you have a studio policy in writing?
- Do you have a method of regular or written assessment?
- What methods or teaching approaches do you use?
- What styles and genres of music do you teach?
- Do you teach music theory and history as integral to lessons?
- Do you require students to perform in concerts or recitals, and if so, how many per year?
- Do your students participate in other performing venues and activities, such as competitions or festivals?
- Do you incorporate any music technology in your studio, such as iPads, music instruction software, Noteflight, Soundation, or digital keyboards?
- How much do you expect your students to practice every day?
- What general things do you expect from students?
- Do you require that students have their own piano, or is a keyboard sufficient?
- What are your credentials?
- Can I get references and testimonials?
- Do you travel to me, or will I need to come in to the studio?
A teacher’s experience is quite important when deciding on who will be you piano teacher. A solid background in professional teaching suggests that a teacher will be able to properly communicate their knowledge in a lesson situation. Performing experience shows you that your teacher can practice what they preach and will be able to inform you with opinions based on real-life application of skills and knowledge.
Finally, a great piano teacher is patient and should make your lessons fun and relaxed. You shouldn’t be constantly criticized or mindlessly drilled.
The Studio Learning Environment
A patient, warm, and encouraging teaching environment makes optimal learning possible. A teacher’s ability to relate to you on a personal level is just as important as their technical skill. Like any relationship, you have “chemistry” with some people and not with others. If want your piano lessons to be successful, you need to have chemistry with you teacher on a human level. No amount of technical or musical skill will compensate for this if it isn’t there.
You should innately trust your teacher and respect their abilities. You should feel free to ask questions and explore things you don’t understand, and be open to receiving constructive criticism.
Make sure that your teacher takes an active interest in your progress. For example, you should have clear goals that are discussed together, and your teacher should be encouraging you to practice.
It is also very important that your teacher does not simply tell you to “practice” but shows you HOW to practice efficiently and effectively. This will save you hours upon hours of wasted time at the piano.
If after many lessons you discover that your piano teacher doesn’t motivate you or frequently does not meet your standards for commitment, don’t hesitate to start looking for a new teacher. There is almost certainly a better teacher who will meet your needs and your learning style, who will help you achieve your musical goals, and who will make you excited about piano lessons.
Also check out my other Carleton blog about piano humor and cartoons.