Whether you have moved to a new location, your child begins asking or you, yourself, decide to act on your desire to learn how to play the piano, the daunting task of where to begin looms overhead. How do you find the right piano teacher for you or your child? You want someone who is qualified and yet inspires and encourages growth in this musical journey.
There are many ways to find piano instructors. You can ask at your local piano store. They usually have a list to choose from. Your neighbors, friends or school teachers are also good resources. Once you have a list of names with addresses and phone numbers, you will begin the interview process. Not all teachers are created equal.
Questions To Ask The Prospective Teacher
Piano instructors are willing to answer questions, but often the person inquiring doesn’t know what to ask. Here are appropriate questions to ask that will give you a better understanding of what your tuition will cover.
- What is your professional education and experience? They should have a college degree with some experience. Even college students will be teaching while attending school.
- What is your teaching experience? There is something to be said for the instructor who has been teaching for a few years. Although, you will want to make sure they are not old and cranky, rather someone who will speak life into their students, especially when they want to quit.
- What ages and levels do you teach? This will depend on where their expertise lies.
- What do you do for your own continuing education? They should be attending either local, state or national workshops. Online education is very accessible to anyone.
- Do you belong to any local or national teachers associations? Just because they belong doesn’t necessarily mean they are qualified, but it does say they are part of organizations that do encourage continued education.
- Do you have a studio/school policy? Will you review it with me? Every qualified teacher should have a policy and be more than willing to go over it with you. You need to know what is expected from you and what you can expect from them.
- How do you evaluate student progress? This process will also vary from teacher to teacher. There should be a notebook of weekly assignments, which is an easy way to assess by looking back at prior lessons. Regular recitals and performances are also a way to assess ones progress. Some teachers may offer a conference once every quarter or semester.
- What instructional materials do you use? This will be determined by the level of student. Beginning students will often have method books by either Alfred, Bastien, Faber and Faber or other publishing companies. Older students may be required to obtain materials by composer or from a conservatory. It is important that your teacher teaches theory, technic, ear training and musical artistry.
- What genres of music do you teach? The type of teacher you are looking for will teach what you are wanting to learn as well as other genres. The foundation of all music is “classical”, meaning you will learn how to play music from every time period, including your favorites.
- Do you teach composition? Perhaps you want to write a song or piece of instrumental music. Not all piano instructors know how to do this.
- Do you offer group lessons or performance classes? This is a must. It is healthy to play for others, even if it’s just in a performance class.
- How many recitals do you have in the school year? Are they required? Your teacher should offer at least one annual recital, if not two major recitals a year. School aged students should be required to participate. Adult students should have the option, but would be encouraged to perform in at least the performance classes which is for students only.
- Do you offer other performance opportunities such as festivals and competitions? These events don’t have to be required, but are available for those who want to experience their music at a different level.
- Do you offer technology in your studio/school such as computers and digital keyboards? This isn’t as important as some of these programs can be accessed at home.
- How much practice time do you require each day? The old saying, “The more you put into it, the more you will get out” is very true. You can expect 30 min, of practice for kindergarten and younger. 45 to 60 minutes of practice daily for the elementary level and 60 to 90 minutes for the junior and senior high school student.
- What do you expect from the student/parent? The most important element of learning to play the piano is having a teachable spirit and showing respect for each other.
- Do you offer a meet and greet appointment? This can be beneficial if you are on the fence. Personalities play a role in finding the right teacher. Spending just a little time with the prospective teacher will give you a good idea if you are a perfect match!
Action is the next step. Gather your names and numbers. Print out this list of questions and begin making your calls. Make a decision and sign up. Your journey will be worth the investment.