Finding a good piano instructor can make the difference between a positive or negative music experience. There are some key ingredients to the right teacher.
The right piano teacher takes some research to locate. A teacher that works well for you or your child will provide a great entry into the world of piano and music. Learning to play the piano can have life-long benefits, so it is important to get the most out of each piano lesson. The following are important considerations when looking for a piano teacher.
Method of Piano Instruction
The two most popular types of piano instruction are the Suzuki method and the Traditional method. In the Suzuki method, young children learn to play the piano by hearing simple songs over and over again. For example, they may hear "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star" many times until they learn which keys to play. In other words, they learn by hearing and repetition rather than by reading music.
In the Traditional method of teaching piano, students begin by learning simple keys. They may start with just the black keys before advancing to the white keys. When they learn the black keys, they simply follow the finger position shown in a book. When they learn the white keys, they also learn the keys' names, which are arranged in this order on the keyboard, starting with Middle C: C,D,E,F,G,A,B.
There are many traditional piano instruction books, which contain very simple songs. Many of the early songs use just a few keys, and advance gradually to the full range of keys. These books are called "Primer" level. First the right hand keys are learned, followed by the left hand.
There are advantages to both the Suzuki and Traditional method. If unsure, speak with teachers of both methods, as well as to students who learned by both methods. Then, select the method you find most appealing.
It is important for piano lessons to be convenient if you are to take them for a long period of time. Ask if the teacher comes to your home or if you go to their location, either a home or piano school. Think about selecting a piano teacher whose location is near your home, work or school.
Some people prefer to take lessons in a music school, while others prefer the home setting. That is your individual choice and preference.
Length of Lesson
Piano lessons generally range from 30 to 45 minutes. Beyond that may be too long, especially for a child piano student. Evaluate the amount of time you have available for a lesson (include travel time to and from the piano lesson) as well as you or your child's attention span.
Find out what time of day the piano teacher is available to teach and, more specifically, what time slot you would fill. The available time slot needs to fit comfortably into your schedule because you will be taking lessons every week.
Piano Teacher Experience
Find out how many years of experience a teacher has, and ask for references. A teacher with more experience is likely committed to teaching piano and will continue to teach.
Determine a teacher's philosophy on recitals. Some teachers hold yearly recitals, others do not. If this is important to you, it is important to find out!
Some teachers belong to an educational organization which offers music theory testing. Students take these tests once or twice a year. If this is important to you, it is wise to determine if a teacher belongs to such a group.
Many piano teachers take a summer break. If they do so, they should suggest music to work on during the break. They may suggest a certain level of book, or even a particular book or books.
Fees and Policies
Find out what the fees are per class and what the teacher's policy is for missed lessons. Perhaps the teacher offers an excused absence (no fee) if a piano student is ill. It is important to know the piano teacher's philosophy on fees before signing on with him or her.
Some piano teachers are actively involved in local, regional, state, or even national competitions. These events may or may not be attractive to you. If your goal is to just learn to play the piano "for fun" then you may not want the added pressure or expense of a competition. If, on the other hand, piano is a serious hobby, these events may be quite appealing.
Piano is an investment in many ways. First, there is the cost of the instrument, which you may rent or purchase if you do not already own one. Second, it requires an investment of time. Find out how long your piano teacher expects his or her students to practice each day, and make sure that your schedule allows for compliance. If a teacher has high expectations that you are unable to meet, the experience will not be a positive one.
When looking for a good piano teacher, ask around. Check with friends, neighbors, music store staffs. If a qualified source can offer a good recommendation, you will be well on your way toward finding a good piano teacher.
Piano offers a wonderful opportunity for those interested in acquiring or building their musical talents. A good piano teacher is essential in fostering a love for this type of music.