How to find a piano teacher. Whether you live in a big city and have lots of different options, or you live in a small town and find that you don’t have a lot of piano teachers available to learn from, it can be hard to get the right teacher.
To find a piano teacher, you need to consider a lot of different things. This is our guide to help you do exactly that, take on board all of the considerations and hopefully end up with a piano tutor or teacher you love.
Finding the right teacher can be the difference between sticking with your new piano hobby or giving up because you are not enjoying lessons.
Do You Even Need to Find a Piano Teacher?
This is the first consideration you should take on board. A lot of people who decide that they would like to learn how to play the piano instantly look for ads for a teacher in their local area. Just like learning to drive, it might feel like it is important to have someone show you the ropes every step of the way. This isn’t always the case when it comes to piano.
There are lots of ways that you can learn how to play the piano, and plenty of self-taught pianists out there will tell you that they found it easier to learn in their own time.
There are a number of different courses, such as the Pianu academy, and people are often telling us that they find it easier to go at their own pace than it would be to work with a teacher.
If you want to learn how to play at a good level, but you aren’t too worried about becoming the next Mozart, or laying down the platform for skills that are “classical” or traditional in your piano learning then you can probably go ahead and start to learn on your own. At least teaching yourself the basics in this way is a good idea.
It’s actually more about being able to find a piano teacher who understands what you want to get out of things and is flexible enough to help you with your achievements.
Whether you go for traditional piano lessons and in-person lessons or not, there are going to be a lot of times when you are doing solo practice. You will need to be able to practice and pick up new knowledge on your own if you are going to reach your potential. There is no reason not to combine both solo learning with lessons from time to time.
There are definitely certain skills and aspects of playing that having a teacher can help you with. If you get the right teacher, the following aspects of your playing might be improved:
- Learning the correct technique, posture, and hand positions. If you are learning on your own then this can be a big challenge. A lot of the time, people find it really difficult to get things right early on. Which notes should you be playing with which fingers? How do your hands need to look on the piano? A teacher can instantly see where you are going wrong. With a course, you don’t get this help.
- Find a piano teacher who is flexible, and they will be able to customize to your learning styles and to the things you are most interested in, meaning that it is more likely that you will stay interested and learn more.
- A piano lesson being booked at a regular time slot can help you to regularly practice. If you are the sort of person who might get distracted or find doing other things a bit more exciting then you should maybe get a tutor or teacher to encourage you to practice regularly enough.
If you can afford it, and feel that it will be beneficial, you should go for lessons. They are not essential, and alternatives such as online courses should be considered. They’re not direct competition for teachers, as an online course and a piano teacher both have different benefits to your learning.
The Best Places to Find a Piano Teacher
Where do I look? If you want to find a piano teacher then there are certain places you should go to look. It pays to do a little bit of research. Think of it like buying a car (sorry piano teachers, we don’t mean to compare you to buying cars). You wouldn’t just buy the first car you see, instead, you would do some research on the model and check that it fits your needs, plus you need to consider what is available locally.
You could just google “piano teacher in my town” and you might well find an option to go with. However, it might not be the right option for you. Someone being good at getting to the top of Google doesn’t necessarily mean they are good at teaching individuals in piano lessons.
Searching online is a good way to find some options, but there are some sure-fire ways to make sure you have narrowed down the search and got the best potential candidates. If you are going to be paying this teacher with your hard-earned money there is no reason why you shouldn’t do some research to make sure that you have found someone you are happy with. Remember you are the customer.
A Local Music Store
They still exist! A local music store might well be the best place to find a piano teacher. Most music stores selling instruments and other music equipment are not just great for those who want to buy new gear, they tend to act as communities, too.
Many music stores will have some form of advertising board or community space where people can advertise their services. If a piano teacher is advertising there, the chances are they are an active member of the local community. It doesn’t necessarily make them perfect, but it is a good way to start to narrow down your choices.
An even better way to draw upon the knowledge of a local music store is to ask them for specific recommendations. Music communities and musicians tend to talk, and will probably have some opinion on which teachers locally are the best. A teacher taking the time to go and get to know people in their local music store is a good sign.
If you have a piano store near you, this could be even better. You can ask within if they have any local recommendations. Some of the local piano stores might even have a specific program or a way to learn in-store.
Asking Your Musician Friends
Do you know any musicians already? People who know how to play the piano or have learned on their own previously are likely to have some form of opinion and can give you their recommendation of who you should trust to teach you how to play the piano.
The best-case scenario is if you know somebody who has already learned how to play the piano and they have used a tutor in the local area. This way, they might be able to tell you the contact details and give you a bit of advice when it comes to working with that particular teacher.
While we have said above that looking online isn’t always the most reliable way to find a teacher who will work with your needs, you may well strike gold. Plus, a lot of the teachers you will find online will be very likely to provide some sort of an offer to get you started. For example, they might be willing to do the first lesson half price. This gives people the opportunity to evaluate a tutor before taking the plunge and booking weekly sessions.
When you find a tutor online, this is another way in which you have to consider the fact that you are the customer. It feels harsh sometimes to chop and change your tutor, but if you get someone to teach you and you just aren’t enjoying or learning then it might be time to switch to another teacher. Don’t assume that they are all the same. Many teachers use a variety of different methods.
When searching for a piano teacher online then you can also find some very useful websites. Sites like Piano Teachers Connect are designed to help you to find someone in your area. On top of this, you might find that some of the sites that help you to find a piano teacher have some sort of rating system. Teachers can get testimonials and you can find a teacher that is more likely to provide you with the environment you need to learn.
Community Social Media Groups
This can be a really good way to find teachers, especially if you are in an area where services like this can be a bit more remote. Using a Facebook group for services or even a buying and selling group in your area can be a fantastic way to find piano teachers.
Also, if you put in the group that you are searching for a teacher, you’ll know that those who are willing to respond are likely to be enthusiastic.
Always be wary when meeting people you have found online and check that they have a real business, plus, make sure they come to you and someone else is in the house ideally. Remember to be cautious.
If you use social media groups to find a tutor, you might find that a stranger can recommend someone, this is a big plus point, they are likely to only recommend if they had a really great experience when they were learning to play the piano themselves.
Community Colleges or Night Classes
Learning to play the piano is a really useful skill, and many local community colleges or community learning centers might have some sort of piano teacher working with them. It could be the case that you can attend night group lessons, or book individual sessions with your teacher. Once again, if you live in a big city then it is more likely that you will find classes to suit you. You might have to be willing to travel.
If you decide to go ahead with a group learning environment then it might be the case that the lessons take on a very different feel. Some people learn well in a group setting, others do not. That is the most important thing – work out what will work best for your own needs.
Can I Get a Friend to Teach Me?
Do you have a friend who is already brilliant at playing the piano? Of course, you can get them to teach you how to play the piano, but you should be aware that this probably won’t be as effective.
For a start, a friend is a lot less likely to know what they are doing! There are lots of skills involved in teaching as well as learning how to play the piano. More on the skills of a good teacher later on in this post.
Learning with a friend teaching you might also cause some other issues. You might end up chatting and not be as effective, or your friend (especially if not getting paid) might not be as available as you would like.
Something that is a very good idea if you have a friend who is an accomplished pianist, is to learn independently, and then use your friend as a sounding board. For instance, you can learn the songs on our academy, and then when you have got to the stage where you think you are playing them properly, you can ask your friend to check your technique and skills. You can even do this via video.
A friend who plays is likely to be able to spot errors you are making, for example, if you are playing out of time or if you don’t quite have the right notes or chords. This means that they can tell you where your technique is lacking and you can go away and improve upon it. The relationship you have with your friend and learning how to play the piano can be useful, but sometimes it is better to either learn solo, or pay for a specific tutor.
The Introductions – Find a Piano Teacher and Check You Are Compatible
As we have already mentioned, it is one thing to find a piano teacher, and something else entirely to find a piano teacher that you are happy with, and who understands what you want and need from the experience.
Different teachers come from different backgrounds, and they might have been taught in a certain way themselves, that they are insistent is the correct method. The truth is that there are so many ways to get to the same end result (being able to play the piano) and this means that you have some flexibility.
You may want certain things from your piano lessons. You might not care about learning how to read music, but some teachers might insist upon this. Some teachers come into it with a rigid structure of what they are going to do on a week by week basis to turn you into a pianist. That doesn’t work for everyone. What if you want to learn how to play jazz piano, and your tutor only teaches classical?
This is possibly the main area where people go wrong time and time again when they try to find a piano teacher. They find someone who just isn’t compatible. So, how do you check? How do you avoid doing a few lessons and finding yourself bored to tears?
Talk to the Teacher First
Before you book a lesson or agree to anything, have a discussion with the teacher. Any piano teacher who is passionate about it will be happy to share 10 minutes of their day to discuss what the lessons are like and how they might work.
From this conversation, it might become clear whether or not you are likely to gel. Firstly, whether your personalities match up, and secondly, whether or not you are likely to enjoy the lessons.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with checking that you are going to learn in the way that you want to learn. Ask the tutor what sessions look like, and do not be afraid to let them know what you want to achieve through your piano lessons. In fact, a piano tutor should want to give you the experience you are looking for. They might ask you questions to check that they can tailor the experience to you.
If you want to become a classical pianist, communicate this. If you just want to be able to play some chords or be a keyboard player in a local band, you should tell them this, too. Depending on what you want to achieve in the long run, your piano teacher can hopefully alter your experience.
If you don’t want to learn how to read music, then there might be a way that you can still learn with a teacher. Plenty of pianists out there, especially in pop and rock music, do not know how to read music. Why spend 20 lessons learning how to sight-read if you will never use this skill in the future?
There are a few questions you should definitely ask:
- “What are the fees and cancellation policy?” Always check this. Get off on the right footing before you start so there is no confusion or disagreement.
- “Do you use a set curriculum, or are sessions flexible?” You might be the sort of person who learns best if you can focus on the areas you are passionate about. Some people are happy to spend the first 10 sessions on theory, but others will find this so boring.
- “Can I choose what I learn?” Did you ever have those lessons in school music where you had to learn a song you hated? There is some benefit to this if you are looking to learn how to play the piano, but also, more often than not, it is just a very frustrating pursuit. Some control over songs you would like to learn can be a good way to focus your lessons and to feel positive about them.
As well as asking these questions, it is really important that you consider whether or not there is any sort of common ground or spark between you. It might well be that a 60-year-old woman with a classical background is the best tutor, but likewise, it could be a 30-year-old who loves rock and roll.
This video goes into more detail on what you should ask your teacher, and some of the things to look out for when choosing a piano teacher.
A chat is a good idea just to see if you feel like you are on the same wavelength (pun very much intended) and if you are possibly going to become a customer then it is only fair that you can ask some questions to the potential teacher.
More Qualities of a Good Piano Teacher
The above video can show you some of the qualities of a good piano teacher, but we explain more below.
When you are looking to find a piano teacher, what do you need to be on the lookout for? It may surprise you to learn that being a good piano player doesn’t automatically make someone a good teacher or tutor. What skills make a good piano teacher for you or for your children?
- Patience. You are always going to make mistakes. It is important that the teacher doesn’t expect too much, and doesn’t mind going at the pace of the learner at all times in order to ensure that they don’t feel pressured.
- Communication. It is always desirable to find a piano teacher who is good at communicating ideas and techniques. You should look to find a tutor who finds this natural. Good teachers can break things down into a step-by-step guide or easily understandable chunks of information.
- Knowledge. You will notice that this is not at the top of the list. It is better to be taught by a good pianist who knows how to explain things than it is to be taught by a world-class pianist who can’t clearly explain anything.
- Friendliness. It’s always a more relaxed learning environment if the piano teacher is chilled out and friendly. It shouldn’t be something that you dread doing each week.
- Good with kids (potentially). A lot of people who want to find a piano teacher are actually looking for a teacher for their kids. This means that being able to communicate with children, understand what their level of knowledge is, and generally be willing to work with young people (it brings its own challenges) is an essential skill.
Being able to find a piano teacher means getting the right person for you. Some people say there is no one “best” piano tutor, instead, there are teachers who are good at working with certain types of people. Someone might be great with kids and not so good with adults, or great for those who want to read music but not with those who aren’t interested.
As well as finding good tutors locally who come with a good track record, have a discussion with them first. Take into account your gut feeling about them, but also ask some important questions about the way you would like to learn, and the musical ambitions you have. To find a piano teacher who will flex to your needs is the best way to approach the learning process.