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How to Choose a Piano Teacher – Part 1

Everything You Must Know to Make the Right Choice for You and Your Child

 

Choosing the right Piano Teacher for you

 

Are you considering enrolling your child in piano lessons? Perhaps you’re considering learning the instrument yourself?

As another school term approaches, you may be searching for a piano teacher. But how do you choose the right one?

In Part One of this two-part blog series, we’ll consider what to look for in a piano teacher themselves. If you want to be confident you’re making the right choice of piano teacher, then this is the post for you. Next week, we’ll delve deeper as we discuss what to look for in a piano studio. (You can find the second blog post here.)

Word-Of-Mouth vs. Google

I may be telling you this through a blog on the internet, but I’m the first to admit that word-of-mouth referrals from a friend or family member are the best way to find a music teacher. The reason for this is that the internet is unregulated, and so anyone can claim to be a “piano teacher”, no matter how unfounded the claim may be.

If you can’t get a referral from a friend, however, then this post will be extremely helpful for you. When you find a teacher via Google, the first thing to look for is whether they have a video portfolio of live student performances. This will provide insights into their teaching quality and style. When deciding whether they’re the teacher for you, you can also apply the same measures you would use to judge a teacher you found through a friend. These measures are listed below.

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University Qualifications

If you’re serious about learning the piano, you’ll want to choose a teacher with a music degree – usually a Bachelor of Music or “B.Mus.”.

You’ll also want to know what their major is, be it performance, musicology, composition, or music technology. While a performance major must first pass a piano audition to enter their degree, this is not required of students studying other majors.

It’s also important to discover where a teacher studied. Prestigious universities such as the Sydney Conservatorium or Elder Conservatorium have a good reputation for a reason. Their entry standard is higher than the standard for lower-tier music institutions.

Your child (or you) can, of course, take piano lessons with a less-qualified teacher. But be aware that if you do so, they will be less qualified to teach technique, and prepare you for exams.

So for best results, select a teacher who majored in performance, and studied at a prestigious university. Don’t be afraid to ask them about their qualifications, either. You’ll be paying for their services, so you deserve to know.

Music Board Qualifications

In addition to looking at a music teacher’s degree, major, and university, it’s also a good idea to ask if they have a music board examination diploma (A.Mus. or L.Mus.) from one of the three main music boards in Australia – AMEB, Trinity, and ABRSM.

A.Mus. and L.Mus. students have studied to an advanced level. If a music teacher claims to teach advanced music, but has only studied up to Grade 6 AMEB, then frankly, they’re exaggerating.

Experience studying for and sitting these exams also better prepares a teacher to train their students to do so. As before, don’t be afraid to ask prospective piano teachers about their music board qualifications.

While you may, for financial reasons, choose a teacher who hasn’t successfully studied at a prestigious uni, I would recommend that you don’t compromise on music board qualifications. Always choose a piano teacher who has studied A.Mus. or L.Mus.

Teaching Experience

As a general rule, an experienced teacher is better able to teach a beginner student. They know what works when it comes to teaching, and what doesn’t. And you’ll see this in their students at recitals and in their video portfolio.

Many less-experienced teachers are actually students currently studying at university, and teaching piano on the side. These teachers are often young and enthusiastic, but their teaching methods are not proven. They are cheaper, and may end up being a more affordable option in the short-term, but remember: you will get what you pay for.

When it comes to teacher experience, you actually don’t have to take someone’s word for it. Instead, ask to see a transcript of their students’ music board exam results. If they claim to have been teaching for 30 years, but have only put students through exams in the last couple of years, be wary.

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Teacher Personality

You know the sorts of adults your child gets along with (and the ones you get along with, too). So make sure you choose a teacher whose personality will compliment your child. You definitely don’t want a teacher who will make them feel uncomfortable!

Of course, when it comes to personality, it’s a rather personal thing. But that said, you’ll generally find that the best teachers are easy going (especially towards younger beginner students), pleasant, and have a good sense of humour. They also know how to apply pressure to older and more advanced students that makes them perform, without making them feel threatened or uncomfortable.

As I said, personality is a very personal thing, so check whether your prospective piano teacher offers a free trial lesson, so you can get an idea of how your teacher and child (or you) will work together.

Making The Choice

Do you feel more confident in knowing what to look for in a piano teacher for you and your child?

Remember, when you choose a piano teacher, look for the following things:

  • University qualifications (preferably B.Mus. majoring in performance)
  • AMEB qualifications (A.Mus. or L.Mus – this really is non-negotiable)
  • Experience (look for a teacher who’s taught for 5+ years)
  • Personality (make sure you “click”!)

Next week, we’ll discuss what to look for in their studio and the way they run it.

In the meantime, if you have any questions or comments, please share them below. And if you’ve enjoyed this article, don’t forget to share it on Facebook or wherever you hang out online, so your friends can know how to choose a piano teacher too.

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Looking For A Piano Teacher?

I know a good one 😉 Learn more about learning the piano with Le Piano Academy here.

 

Why It’s Never Too Late: Learning the Piano as an Adult

If you think that piano lessons are only for kids, think again.

 

Learning the Piano as an Adult – It’s Never Too Late

 

I currently teach six adult students at my Sydney piano academy. They’re each a pleasure to teach, and they’ve all made amazing progress in the time that they’ve been with me, be it 18 months, or over three years.

There are many misconceptions and myths about learning the piano as an adult. So this week we’re going to get our myth buster on and discuss why it’s never too late to learn to play the piano.

Busted: The Biggest Myth About Adults and Piano Lessons

The biggest myth about learning the piano as an adult is that you’re too old. And that’s simply not true.

I’ve taught adults ranging in age from their 30s to their 60s. They have gone on to accomplish all sorts of musical goals, just like my younger students. Some have successfully sat AMEB exams for the first time in their lives. Others have learnt to play a particular piece for a special event, such as their wedding. I’ve also had adult students who were afraid of public performances who now enjoy playing at our annual recitals. In every case, they’ve proven that you’re never too old to learn to play the piano.

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Pros of Learning Piano as an Adult

As an adult, there are actually several advantages you will enjoy when learning to play the piano.

Concentration

To begin with, it will come as no surprise when I point out that adult students have much higher concentration levels than kids. This means that as an adult piano student, you can learn musical concepts and musical theory much more quickly than children, which means you’ll also learn to play better, faster.

Motivation

Plenty of children don’t really want to learn to play the piano, and so motivating them can be a battle. Because most adults who take up piano lessons are there because they want to be, motivation isn’t really an issue. You’re there because you want to be, and because you want to improve, you will practise.

Emotional Development

Unlike children, adults are emotionally developed, and so it’s much easier for them to grasp musical expression. This allows you to connect with the music more easily, and to play more expressively.

Time Management

Adults are also much better at managing their free time than children. They also realise that improvement requires practise. This means they are better at allocating time to practise each week – and are more likely to do it.

Cons of Learning the Piano as an Adult

Of course, it’s not all easy sailing to learn the piano as an adult. In addition to enjoying all the benefits described above, you may also face some of the following challenges. Thankfully, if you are aware of them, you will be better prepared to prevent them from becoming a problem for you.

Time Management

Yes, this one can also be a con. Although, as an adult, you’re probably very good at time management, you’re also almost certainly very time poor. Family, work, and social commitments, as well as other activities such as going to the gym, dancing, etc., can make it difficult to find the time to practise the piano. This is a challenge that can be overcome, but it’s important to be aware of it.

Well-Developed Ear

Now you’re probably thinking to yourself, “how is this not a pro?” The reason for this is that adult students know what sounds good and what sounds bad (kids are much less aware of this). This means that adults students will often compare their own playing to the concert pianists they have heard, and then be disappointed when they don’t measure up. These musicians have years of training under their belts, and so it’s important not to be critical of your own playing in comparison. If you practise and have fun, you will improve.

Over-Developed Hand Muscles

Children’s hand and finger muscles are malleable, but adults have difficulty playing the piano without tension. I’m yet to teach an adult whose hands are relaxed and tension-free like a child’s. And I know how difficult it can be, because as an adult learning to play the violin, I also struggle to play with a relaxed technique in order to ensure the correct bow hold, etc. But that doesn’t mean you should give up!

Teaching Adult Piano Students: My Approach

Another myth we’d better bust is that as an adult student, you will be learning nursery rhymes and forced to wear fancy dress outfits like kids at school recitals and concerts. Maybe that happens elsewhere, but certainly not in my Sydney piano studio!

 

Puffy Shirt

 

Before teaching a new adult student, I will always ask what kind of music you want to play in a year’s time, and what your goals are. You may want to play classical or jazz music, you may want to learn chords, you might want to focus on learning to read music, or something else. Whatever you want to do, I will structure your lessons so that you can achieve your musical goals. (Of course, your goals need to be realistic; you won’t be a concert pianist in six months!)

I don’t use children’s method books, as there are plenty of good adult ones. Once you’ve learnt the fundamentals of music (note reading, duration, technique, etc) from these books and built a reasonable foundation, we will choose pieces you would like to learn, and work on them.

Recipe for Success

The recipe for success when learning to play the piano is simple: all my successful adult piano students have realistic goals, and practice regularly.

If you do the same, and enjoy learning something new, then you will love learning to play the piano too!

Do you know someone who would love to learn the piano, but has been holding back? Why not share this blog post with them so they can discover that it’s never too late to learn.

And if you want to learn more about piano lessons for adults click here, or call me today.

I would love to be a part of your adult piano journey!

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