Choosing the Right Teacher
How to Choose a Piano Teacher
Choosing a piano teacher is a highly personal decision. You want someone who will inspire you and help you nurture a love for playing the piano. A good piano teacher is at once a friend, mentor, and teacher.
The Piano Teachers Federation can help you with your decision. Besides using the "Find a Teacher" search application on this site, consider giving us a call for further guidance.
Communication Is Key
When it comes to finding a piano teacher, talking to others about your search is important to your success.
Follow these basic guidelines to help ensure you select a teacher who is right for you:
- Talk to friends, family, and colleagues. They who may be acquainted with teachers in your community.
- Seek recommendations from music stores, schools, and teacher associations. Churches are also a good place to seek recommendations.
- Interview prospective teachers, in person if possible, before making a commitment.
- Attend a recital of a prospective teacher's students.
- Ask to speak with some of the prospective teacher's students, past and present.
- Take notes and share your findings with a trusted friend to help you with your decision.
Know What You Want
Asking yourself several key questions before starting your teach search will save you time and help you find the best teacher for your needs. Consider these questions:
- What do you want to achieve from piano lessons?
- What are your musical tastes, ambitions, and goals?
- Are you more interested in the technical or social aspects of playing piano?
- Would you enjoy taking a group class or would you feel more comfortable with private lessons?
- How much time do you intend to spend playing the piano?
- Is your goal to play proficiently in the local community band or in your church?
- What musical style(s) do you want to learn?
- Do you want to learn notation and music theory, or do you want to learn to play by ear?
By working out where you want to go and how you want to get there, you'll have a better idea if the teachers you talk to are right for you.
How to Interview Teachers
Interviewing prospective teachers is good way of finding one that meets your needs. When interviewing a prospective teacher, pay attention to how you communicate with each other. This is indicative of how your lessons will flow. The prospective teacher should be open and will to share information about their experience, skills, and style.
Think about asking prospective teachers these questions:
- What is your professional and educational experience in music?
- What is your teaching experience?
- What age groups do you teach?
- What types of ongoing professional development do you participate in?
- Do you have a written studio policy? Will you review it with me?
- Do you regularly evaluate your students' progress?
- What instructional materials do you use?
- What kinds of music do you teach?
- What other elements are part of your teaching curriculum?
- Do you offer group lessons?
- Do you require students to perform in-studio recitals during the year?
- Do you offer other performance opportunities for your students, such as festivals and competitions?
- Do you use technology in your studio, such as computers, music instruction software, and digital keyboards?
- How much practice time do you require each day?
- What do you expect of your students?
- What are your terms and conditions of employment?
- What are your certifications?
- Can I get references and testimonials?
Teaching and performance experience are important when considering a prospective teacher. Solid teaching experience suggests they are able to successfully communicate their knowledge to you. Performance experience ensures that your teacher is skilled enough musically take you beyond the basics.
A good piano teacher is patient and should make your lessons fun, relaxed, and informative.
The Learning Environment
A patient, friendly teaching environment makes learning productive. A teacher’s character and personality are as important as their technical skill. Like any relationship, you "click" with some people and not with others. If want a productive learning environment, you and your teacher need to "click."
You should intuitively trust and respect your teacher. Talking to her should feel natural and receiving instruction and constructive criticism from her should be a positive experience.
Make sure your teacher is active in your education and progression. For instance, you should be setting goals together, and she should be pushing you to practice. You should feel like she is taking an interest in you personally rather than being just another student.
As your lessons progress and you discover your teacher doesn't motivate you or frequently breaks commitments, don't hesitate to search for a different teacher. There is sure to be a better teacher out there who will better fit your style and needs, who will help you succeed, and who will make you look forward to your next lesson.