Like most things in life, learning to play the piano is just so much better when you’re doing it with someone else. You have someone there to cheer you on, hold you accountable, and help you make progress. Now, there are plenty of people giving piano lessons, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll learn from any of them. It’s just like dating: there’s plenty of folks out there, but it takes some searching to find someone compatible. Thankfully, it’s much easier to find a piano teacher that you’re compatible with than a future spouse.
So where do you find this partner in piano, who from henceforth will be called a teacher? Here are some tips to finding the right match for you:
Know where to search
- Review the ads! Piano teachers periodically post ads in the paper and in online forums like craigslist. This is good for you, since this means they are currently taking new students and you won’t be subject to a waiting list.
- Contact a professional musical association or society for referrals.
- Inquire at local music stores or any shop that sells keyboards or pianos.
- Call a piano tuner. They have business relationships with the teachers who teach on acoustic pianos, so they can direct you to a number of people.
- Ring up the music department at a local college or university and find out which music education majors are pianists. It’s a win-win—you get the advantage of getting lessons for a lower price and they get the experience they need for their resume.
- Ask the music teacher at the local elementary school or high school if they give lessons or can refer you to someone great.
- Consider placing an ad yourself and let them come to you. It sounds a bit backwards, but this can work. I personally gain two or three students a year in my studio because of students who put their ads in the local pennysaver.
Ask for a trial lesson
You want to make sure that you and your potential new teacher get along well and that he or she can meet your educational needs. A trial lesson will give you a glimpse into what regular lessons will be like. Some teachers offer these for free; however, you should be prepared to pay a regular lesson fee.
Be up front about what your needs
This will really serve you well in the long run. If there’s a teacher who everyone in the community raves about, but she only teaches classical, that might be a problem for you if you want to learn the blues. Likewise, if you are interested in learning how to play by-ear, you will want to find a teacher that will accommodate that desire and help you flourish as a student.
Review the contract and policies carefully
Most piano teachers require their students to fill out a contract, agreeing to a certain number of lessons, payment schedules, and attendance, among other things. Make sure you read over these contracts carefully and discuss any items of concern with the teacher. For example, some teachers require make-up lessons while others don’t offer them at all.
What have been your experiences?