Choose the right piano teacher by looking at these simple features at their studio
Are you considering enrolling your child (or yourself) in piano lessons? Then this is the blog series for you.
In this two-part series, we’re discussing how to choose a piano teacher, with a focus on what to look for, what you can compromise on (if absolutely necessary), and what’s non-negotiable.
Last week, we discussed what to look for in the teacher themselves. If you haven’t read that post yet, you can find it here. As a refresher, when you choose a piano teacher, you should look for the following things:
- University qualifications (preferably B.Mus. majoring in performance)
- AMEB qualifications (A.Mus. or L.Mus – non-negotiable)
- Experience (someone who’s taught for 5+ years)
- Personality (someone you “click” with)
Today, let’s look at what you should look for in the teacher’s piano studio…
Generally speaking, a piano teacher’s qualifications and experience determines how much they charge for lessons. Prices range from $40 to $150 an hour; $80 an hour is the average.
Piano lessons are a big investment for any family. So it’s important to ensure you get what you pay for. $80 an hour should get you a fully-qualified teacher with a B.Mus. (majoring in performance), an A.Mus. or L.Mus. from a music examination board, and at least 10 years’ teaching experience.
Some music schools charge $80 per hour, but their teachers are not fully-qualified. The extra money goes to the school, not the teacher. As I said, if you’re going to pay that sort of money, you want to get your money’s worth. (If you do choose to go with a less-qualified teacher due to financial pressures, be sure you’re paying a less-qualified wage.)
So how do you make sure you’re getting what you pay for with a fully-qualified teacher? As I said in my last post, don’t be afraid to ask about a teacher’s experience and qualifications. You’re paying for their services, so you deserve to know.
[Tweet “Some music schools charge $80 per hour, but their teachers are not fully-qualified #piano”]
A common-sense consideration, but an important one: try to find a local teacher located no more than 20 to 30 minutes away. While you and your child may initially be enthusiastic about lessons at the end of an hour’s drive, this enthusiasm probably won’t last.
But be sure you do travel to the teacher. While some teachers will come to you, your child (or you) will be disadvantaged by learning to play only on the piano in your home. This is especially true when it comes to recitals or exams, as a student who has only ever played on one instrument will struggle to adapt to a foreign instrument, especially under pressure.
[Tweet “A student who has only ever played on one #piano will struggle to adapt to a foreign instrument”]
Which leads us onto our next point…
Always choose a teacher who teaches their students on a quality acoustic piano. This is non-negotiable. Your child (or you) cannot learn to play the piano properly on an electronic keyboard. While a keyboard is an acceptable instrument for beginners practicing at home, you should always learn on an acoustic piano.
(To learn more about acoustic pianos vs. electronic keyboards, check out this post.)
It might seem a funny thing to look for, but it’s important to choose a piano teacher with a thorough studio policy.
A studio policy indicates that a teacher is experienced and successful, and runs their studio professionally. The policy will protect them, but it will also protect you as a client.
Look for elements in their policy that discuss:
- Trial lessons (you don’t want to be locked into a term of lessons without having a trial first)
- How lessons are charged (e.g. weekly, monthly, per term, or annually) and whether late fees apply
- Policies for make-up lessons and cancellations
- Provision of sheet music (photocopying sheet music is illegal)
This will give you a good idea of the piano teacher’s level of professionalism, experience, and ethics.
While some music schools have their own exam system, any qualifications your child (or you) obtain will not be recognised elsewhere. If piano exams are important to you, then be sure to choose a teacher who prepares students for music board exams with either AMEB, ABRSM, or Trinity.
Your teacher should also have a transcript of their students’ past exam results. Feel free to ask them to show this to you.
[Tweet “Some schools have their own exams, any qualifications obtain will not be recognised elsewhere”]
I’m a big believer in providing students with performance opportunities. Performing helps your playing and confidence blossom. Ask if your piano teacher holds recitals for students, or provides them with other opportunities to perform. You can also check to see if there are photos or – better yet – videos of their students performing on their website or YouTube/Vimeo channel.
Making The Choice
Do you feel prepared to make the right choice when it comes to choosing a piano teacher and piano studio for your child (or you)?
When evaluating a piano studio, remember:
- Make sure you get what you pay for in terms of teacher experience
- Find a teacher near you
- Always choose a teacher who teaches on an acoustic piano
- Make sure there’s a studio policy to protect them and you
- Look for a teacher who teaches AMEB, ABRSM, or Trinity
- Make sure the studio offers performance opportunities to their students
If you have any questions or comments about this post, then please share them in the comments below. And if you enjoyed this article, don’t forget to share it on Facebook so your friends can learn how to choose a piano teacher, too!
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Looking For A Piano Teacher?
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