Searching for a piano teacher is about so much more than cost and location. You want to choose a teacher who fits your learning style, teaches the type of music that interests you, and works well with your personality. Your (or your child’s) piano teacher will have a tremendous influence on your early experiences with piano.
Before you even begin your search, some questions to consider:
- What is your interest in piano? Are you looking for a creative outlet? Building extracurricular skills? Looking to improve your mind?
- Would you prefer group or private lessons?
- How much time can you dedicate each week to practicing?
- Do you have a goal for learning to play piano, such as playing in a band, at church, or a school program?
- How proficient do you want to become?
- Do you want to learn music theory or are you interested in learning how to play by ear?
What to Look for in a Piano Teacher
Now that you’ve interviewed yourself, it’s time to interview your prospective teacher. What kinds of questions can you ask them that will help ensure you’re in the right hands? For starters, you should explore with them their professional and educational background in music. Have they taught before? What age groups are they accustomed to teaching?
Consider the Piano Teacher’s Experience
Instinctively we think the more years of experience the better, but you should also consider their background in music. Accredited institutions likely have rigorous programs set in place to ensure each teacher meets their specific standards. Yamaha accredited music teachers, for example, are required to work through a 4 step program. It begins with a teacher candidate exam to determine if they’re qualified to even begin the process. Properly vetting your teacher with references is crucial, and established schools with proven curriculum can be a safe, sure choice.
Take Note of the Teacher’s Communication
In addition to experiential qualifications, a music teacher can also be a mentor and a friend. It’s perfectly acceptable to interview multiple teachers until you find a compatible fit. You’re likely going to be spending countless hours with this person, so you want to be sure you two communicate well. Asking around to friends and family is a good place to start. If the people who are close to you can recommend someone, chances are they’ll be a good fit for you as well.
Does Your Teacher Teach Digital, Acoustic, or Both?
Some teachers teach only acoustic piano, while others may take advantage of best-in-class digital pianos such as the Yamaha CSP-170 “Smart Piano.” Digital pianos can be a fun way to engage your child and take advantage of a lot of digital features and capabilities that can help enhance the learning experience. For instance, most of Yamaha’s world-renowned Clavinova pianos have several different instrument “voices” your child can play (which can engage young minds when they’d otherwise lose interest). There are also built-in metronomes, record and playback features, automated backup music, and more.
Questions to Ask a Piano Teacher Before Hiring Them
Before you hire a piano teacher, you’ll want to make sure it is the right fit–especially if these piano lessons are for a child. Your child’s experience with a piano teacher can make or break your child’s interest in piano. Consider asking the following questions:
- Do you have a written studio policy? Will you review it with me?
- Do you regularly evaluate your students’ progress? If so, how?
- What instructional materials do you use?
- What kinds of music do you teach?
- What other elements are part of your teaching curriculum?
- 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?
If the answers to those questions fit your bill, you might want to still probe a bit. What types of professional development are they still pursuing? What are their expectations regarding instructional materials and how do they plan to evaluate student progress?
What to look for in a piano teacher revolves almost entirely on the specific needs of a student. Once you have an understanding of your specific needs, you can address how your teacher might meet your requirements.