Choosing a Piano Teacher

Choosing the right piano teacher takes time.

Begin by making a list of your goals for piano study.

Here are some questions to get you started:

  •  Do you want to play professionally or recreationally?
  • What kind of music do you want to play? Do you want to play mostly popular, classical, jazz, a little bit of everything…?
  • What skills do you want to learn? Do you want to learn to compose, improvise, play by ear, read music, all of the above…?
  • Do you want performance opportunities? If so, do you prefer casual or competitive?
  • Do you like making music with others? What kind of groups would you like working with? Some teachers offer piano ensembles, chamber groups, rock bands, etc.
  • Do you like working with technology?
  • What kind of motivation do you need to succeed?

Once you have defined your goals then you can begin looking for a qualified teacher.

Here are some places to find a good teacher:

  • Referral by family members, friends and others who know music teachers in the area. They can give you insider information to the music studio.
  • Search the directory of your local association of MTNA. Theses directories list teacher specializations, qualifications and studio location.
  • Call local universities for recommendations.

Once you have your list of potential teachers begin interviewing and comparing.

Here are some things to consider during the interview:

  •  Education and Experience
    • Does the teacher have a degree teaching piano?
    • Does the teacher have any teaching certifications?
    • How long has s/he been teaching piano?
    • Does the teacher play/teach any other instruments?
  • Teaching Curriculum
    • What student ages does the teacher focus on?
    • Does the teacher focus on popular, classical, jazz, etc?
    • Does the teacher offer instruction in reading music, composing, improvising, etc?
    • Does the teacher stress performance? what kind of performance? is it mostly competitive, instructive, formal, informal, etc?
    • Does the teacher offer ensemble opportunities? are there group lessons? are there studio ensembles?
    • Is technology an important part of the curriculum? does the teacher use music apps, websites, recording software, etc?
    • What are the incentive programs? does the teacher offer games or unique performance opportunities? does the teacher give stickers, award trophies, host parties, etc.?
  • Professionalism
    • Does the teacher have a professional studio? do they have a quality instrument, foot stool, office, computer, etc.?
    • Does the teacher have a studio policy? what is the make-up policy? how much is tuition? is parent participation required? how much practice time is expected?

Be cautious in your search and avoid compromising quality for cost. Playing the piano is a lifetime joy and finding the right teacher is key to success. Good luck! 

– Jennifer Stadler, NCTM Piano Teacher Oklahoma City, Oklahoma