This week on the Men on Music page, we are going to be talking about piano lessons.
Finding the right piano teacher can be a challenge, no matter what your age and previous musical experience. Do you want to go with jazz piano lessons? Classical? Pop? How much are you willing to pay? There are tons of questions that are important to ask when you’re starting on this process.
With that in mind, we’ve put together a handy guide to help you find a good piano teacher.
Here we go…
Finding a piano teacher in your area
There are many ways to search for a piano teacher, both online and in person. Typically, word of mouth is the most reliable way that piano teachers acquire new students. If you have a friend or relative who is taking piano lessons already, find out if they like their teacher. If they have a similar personality to you, the same teacher could be a good match for you as well.
Word of mouth is a reliable way to find a piano teacher because it is based on the recommendation of someone you know and trust. Therefore, it could be a better route than performing random online searches for piano teachers in your area.
If you do want to do an online search for piano teachers, a good place to start would be a top piano teacher directory like Piano Studio Pro. There, you can scroll through a pretty substantial crop of highly qualified piano teachers in your area. From their site, you can also contact the teachers, and set up lessons without any charge or commitment.
How to know if a piano teacher is right for you
When you are choosing a piano teacher, credentials and experience are not necessarily the most important factors.
In fact, what matters the most in a piano teacher is your relationship. Just like in any other personal interaction in life, how you get along with your piano teacher, and the rapport you have together, will determine your success in studying the instrument.
No matter how many advanced degrees, performance dates, or professional contacts a piano teacher has, that does not mean they are the best teacher for you.
The right teacher for you is one who inspires you, can relate to you, and approaches your piano lessons with individual methods geared towards your own strengths and weaknesses.
Questions to ask a potential piano teacher
Here are some helpful questions to ask. You can either bring these questions up to your prospective piano teacher directly, or just use them as a guide to help you decide on what is important to you.
- Where did the piano teacher study and get their certification?
- Do they belong to any professional groups, such as MTNA?
- Do their students participate in recitals, and if so, how many per year?
- Will you be expected to perform?
- How much does the piano teacher charge for lessons?
- Should I take hour or half hour piano lessons?
- How much does the teacher charge for piano lessons?
- In what styles of music does the teacher have the most expertise?
This will give you a good start towards finding the right teacher for you. You should supplement this list of questions with any specific things you would like to know.
Remember, there are no stupid questions, and the more you talk to a potential teacher, the better equipped you will be to make an informed decision about whether they are the right piano teacher for you.
What kind of piano lessons should you take?
There are many styles of piano playing, Including:
- Jazz piano
- Pop piano
- Classical piano
- Rock piano
- Rhythm & Blues piano
- Gospel piano
- Ragtime piano
While the general term “piano lessons” refers to the instrument in general, you need to narrow down what sub-genre of piano playing you are looking for. If you go to a teacher who specializes in jazz piano lessons and you want to learn to play classical music, you might run into some roadblocks. Certain styles are different enough that it could seriously hinder your learning process if you start with a teacher who does not specialize in the style of music you want to learn.
If you are a complete beginner, it is advisable that you start with classical piano lessons. This is because classical music will give you the most fundamental skills that can easily translate into other styles.
How much do piano lessons cost?
The range of price for piano lessons varies greatly based on the teacher’s qualifications, schedule, location, and lesson duration.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Do NOT use price as your most important factor in choosing a piano teacher. The most expensive teacher might not be the best for you, and the cheapest will almost certainly not be qualified.
There are MANY bad piano teachers out there. This is just a plain fact. And bad teachers should be avoided like the plague. If you learn bad habits and your teacher never addresses them, you are going to end up with more problems than skills on the piano.
If you find a teacher who is charging under $10 an hour for piano lessons, you need to get the hell away from that teacher as soon as you possibly can!
Conversely, if a teacher is charging over $100 an hour, that is a bit suspect, too. You are probably paying more for their ego or professional status than you are for actual instruction.
A professional, honest piano teacher will usually charge between $50 and $80 for an hour piano lesson. Less experienced teachers (who still know what they’re doing) may charge as little as $35 for an hour because they are trying to build their studio. But anything lower than that should be a red flag concerning that teacher’s quality.
How hard is it to learn to play the piano?
There is no question about it… playing the piano is difficult. Many people who start piano lessons end up quitting within 3 weeks because they realize that the commitment of time and energy is too much. For those of us who are digital natives, we are not used to putting in the patience and attention that it really takes to practice the piano. In fact, it seems as though anything else that takes up our time and energy is less of a mental drain than practicing piano, as aptly shown in the cartoon below:
Still, there is hardly any greater joy than learning to play the piano, which is one of the most beautiful and personally satisfying instruments ever invented.
While it is possible to teach yourself how to play the piano, a good piano teacher will do wonders for the speed and quality with which you learn, and is invaluable to helping you achieve your full potential. If you are a bit strapped for cash, you might try an online lesson system like here, at http://www.pianoblog.com.
There are online lessons available as well, from a variety of different sources. For information on one of the most popular, check out our Pianoforall review.
They have good video resources that can get you started with basic note reading and keyboard orientation.