Learning to play piano can provide you or your children with a lifetime of enjoyment, challenges, and rich rewards. And often the key to success is finding a good teacher to lead and inspire you on your journey, especially when you’re first starting out. A good piano teacher can help you to learn proper technique, keep you motivated, and inspire you to venture outside of your comfort zone and develop as a player.
How do you go about finding a qualified teacher? What qualities should you look for in a piano teacher? Are these qualities different for an adult student than for a child? Music lessons are a very personal experience. Finding the best teacher for you is a major step. Here are some ideas to help you find the perfect piano teacher for yourself, or your child.
Examine Your Motivation
First, you need to determine your motivation. Take some time and think about why you want to play the piano, and what you’d like to be able to accomplish. Is there a song or style of music that you’d love to be able to play? Write down at least one goal, no matter how far-fetched. Just writing it down brings it to life and makes it more real and attainable. Keep your written goals where you practice and refer to them often for inspiration!
What Qualities Should You Look For When Selecting a Teacher?
After you’ve determined your goals, it’s time to begin your search. Most qualified teachers have worked with beginning students and are well-versed in teaching basic techniques and rudimentary music skills such as reading music.
If you’re interested in pursuing a particular genre of music like jazz or classical, it may make sense to find a piano teacher whose training is specialized in those areas. There are several questions you should ask when meeting with any candidates:
Can they provide letters of recommendation from current or former students?
Do they have teaching credentials?
How far can they take you? Do they work mostly with beginners or do they focus on more advanced students?
Do they work best with adults or children?
Do they have any affiliations?
Where do they conduct lessons? Do they work from their home, a studio, a school, online, or do they come to your home?
How many years of experience do they have playing and teaching?
It’s important to ask about their teaching background and the age level they are most comfortable working with, especially if you’re arranging lessons for your child.
There are many techniques and teaching methods, such as the Suzuki Method, that are geared toward younger students. Make sure to ask your child’s teacher if they have experience working with students your child’s age and if they have a preferred teaching method. For many young beginners, the right first teacher can be the difference between playing music for their entire lives or quitting early.
A good teacher will exhibit qualities like empathy, patience, and a positive attitude. They will use positive reinforcement, but still know how to push when necessary. They will recognize and reward accomplishment, but know when to “lighten things up.”
How to Find a Piano Teacher
You’ve outlined your goals and you know what to look for in a potential teacher, now let’s look at how to find a piano teacher. Where should you begin your search?
The Internet is probably the best place to start. There are many sites online, such as TakeLessons.com, that can direct you to safe, accredited teachers who teach both in-person or online. A quick search on TakeLessons.com can bring up many teachers, both in your area and those available for online lessons. Filtering your results by your specific location and availability will help you begin your search. Then, browse teacher profiles to get a feel for their teaching style and personality, or filter even further by student reviews.
A Few Final Thoughts
As with most creative efforts, it’s best to begin by working with a professional teacher. Taking lessons with a family friend that dabbles on the piano may not be the most effective way to start your lifetime of learning. A professional teacher, on the other hand, will give you or your child a strong foundation in proper technique, and will have the skills and experience to try another approach if you don’t “get it” with their first explanation. A professional teacher can also assess your specific needs and gear the lessons to your abilities and interests.
We’ve looked at what to ask, where to look, and how to find a piano teacher. Of course, the most important key to success actually rests on you, the student. The best teachers in the world can only give you the information you need to learn. In the end, you or your child need to make a firm commitment to faithfully go to lessons and practice!
Be realistic and remember that you aren’t going to be playing overnight. There are going to be hard times when you’re learning a difficult exercise or a tricky new song that will frustrate you and maybe even make you want to give up. These are the times that a professional teacher will be the most helpful. They will stay by your side to remind you of the pride and accomplishment you’ll feel when you finally master that difficult piece of music!
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