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What to do during a Trial Lesson/ Consultation? #1466117
07/01/10 02:14 AM
07/01/10 02:14 AM
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Los Angeles
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curtisrollo Offline OP
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Hi teachers,

Just a question for the piano teachers out there. I am currently looking to restart my piano lessons, and have been looking for teachers in the area. There are quite a few of them, and some have invited me to come in for a free trial lesson, or a consultation. I'm not really sure what to look for in this interview process. Also, the kind of questions I should be asking. So I wanted to ask you what's the etiquette in these meetings.

We've got, what, a short half hour. Do I prepare a piece to play and get some demonstrative feedback? Can I ask the teacher to play something to show? Once we get the logistic questions out of the way (price, schedule, policy etc.) what can I ask to get a good sense of fit? I feel like it's hard to get someone's teaching style from their self-description. Can I ask for references from current students?

What are some things that you want the prospective students to ask you?

Are there any no-no's? Faux Pas? Pet Peeves?

Thanks for your help! I want to be informed and prepared when meeting my prospective teachers.

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Re: What to do during a Trial Lesson/ Consultation? [Re: curtisrollo] #1466127
07/01/10 02:36 AM
07/01/10 02:36 AM
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Orange County, CA
AZNpiano Offline
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Here are my thoughts:

Do I prepare a piece to play and get some demonstrative feedback?

That is an excellent idea, and I ask all transfer students to do that for their first lesson with me.

Can I ask the teacher to play something to show?

While I personally don't mind that at all, some teachers will be offended. It's like you want him/her to prove to you that he/she can still play the piano well.

Once we get the logistic questions out of the way (price, schedule, policy etc.) what can I ask to get a good sense of fit?

Favorite song/artist/composer/style/genre etc.

I feel like it's hard to get someone's teaching style from their self-description. Can I ask for references from current students?

I think this is fine.

What are some things that you want the prospective students to ask you?

What do you do other than piano and music?

Are there any no-no's? Faux Pas? Pet Peeves?

Don't be late, or overly early. Don't complain about the piano's condition. Don't eat garlic the meal before the lesson. Don't bring illegal photocopies of music.


Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member
Re: What to do during a Trial Lesson/ Consultation? [Re: AZNpiano] #1466195
07/01/10 07:42 AM
07/01/10 07:42 AM
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Posts: 1,179
Minnesota
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Ebony and Ivory Offline
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I would ask you to show my what you can play, not as a "try-out" per say, but just to get an idea of your level and your "style".

I don't play for students, I don't want to use up time doing that. You wouldn't ask your son's coach to pitch for you, would you? There are fabulous teachers that aren't fabulous pianists.

It should be a two way interview. Have a few questions ready, things that are important to you. Do you need flexibility? Do you refuse to play classical? How much practice do you plan to put forth? The teacher will likely have questions for you too, things that she is looking for in a student. Do you take direction well? What do you do when you get frustrated? What are your grades like (if you're a student).

I always offer references to a new student.


It is better to be kind than to be right.

Professional private piano teacher since 1994.
Re: What to do during a Trial Lesson/ Consultation? [Re: curtisrollo] #1466250
07/01/10 09:47 AM
07/01/10 09:47 AM
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Posts: 7,639
Olympia, Washington, USA
John v.d.Brook Offline
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Originally Posted by curtisrollo
Once we get the logistic questions out of the way (price, schedule, policy etc.).....

If price is your primary consideration (it sounds like it is), then ask on the phone and don't waste your time and the time of teachers who are priced higher than you're comfortable with.

Even if the reason for your concern is a very limited budget, you should still try to pre-select interviews.

Consider: how will you feel if the perfect teacher is out of your price range. You'll end up resenting whomever you finally select. If you do go with a teacher who is out of your budget range, you'll resent that as well. If, on the other hand, teaching excellence is what you're searching for, then don't worry about the price. You'll get back your investment many times over in improved playing, musical satisfaction, and sense of accomplishment and motivation.


"Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn." -- Richard Henry Dann
Full-time Private Piano Teacher offering Piano Lessons in Olympia, WA. www.mypianoteacher.com
Certified by the American College of Musicians; member NGPT, MTNA, WSMTA, OMTA
Re: What to do during a Trial Lesson/ Consultation? [Re: AZNpiano] #1466252
07/01/10 09:51 AM
07/01/10 09:51 AM
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Olympia, Washington, USA
John v.d.Brook Offline
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Originally Posted by AZN
Don't bring illegal photocopies of music.

+1

This tells me a lot about a student, perhaps more than they want me to know. Most students who come with photocopied music end up looking for another teacher.


"Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn." -- Richard Henry Dann
Full-time Private Piano Teacher offering Piano Lessons in Olympia, WA. www.mypianoteacher.com
Certified by the American College of Musicians; member NGPT, MTNA, WSMTA, OMTA
Re: What to do during a Trial Lesson/ Consultation? [Re: John v.d.Brook] #1466262
07/01/10 10:01 AM
07/01/10 10:01 AM
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Boynton Beach, FL
Morodiene Offline
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Also bring what books you have if you've already been playing, but only those that are at your current level to see what style you're interested in as well as what materials we can work with. Sometimes, however, your current books are not appropriate for your level, but I always try to work with what a student has.


private piano/voice teacher FT

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Re: What to do during a Trial Lesson/ Consultation? [Re: Morodiene] #1466277
07/01/10 10:34 AM
07/01/10 10:34 AM
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Chicago, IL
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It may be helpful (if you're playing intermediate or advanced classical literature) to come up with a list of the pieces you've played in the past, alphabetized by composer's last name. This will give the new teacher a better understanding of what you have worked on than simply saying "I prefer classical music."

Also come up with goals or objectives for yourself - such as "I'd like to explore jazz/improvisation" or "I'd like to be able to play for my church." etc.


Independent Piano Teacher, NCTM
Member of MTNA and ISMTA
Re: What to do during a Trial Lesson/ Consultation? [Re: Crayola] #1466321
07/01/10 11:42 AM
07/01/10 11:42 AM
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Pacific Northwest
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May I ask what you mean by "illegal photocopied music"? How do you know it's illegal? Alot of music is available over the internet free. Is any photocopy from a music book illegal?

Re: What to do during a Trial Lesson/ Consultation? [Re: frida11] #1466326
07/01/10 11:48 AM
07/01/10 11:48 AM
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Atlanta, GA
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saerra Offline
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Originally Posted by frida11
May I ask what you mean by "illegal photocopied music"? How do you know it's illegal? Alot of music is available over the internet free. Is any photocopy from a music book illegal?


Same question. I sometimes photocopy things from books I own, especially if I expect to do alot of writing on the piece, or if the book is big and heavy (to avoid having to haul around too much extra weight.)

I've also got printouts from my teacher, and printouts where I purchased the PDF online (ie David Nevue).

I would hate for a potential teacher to jump to conclusions about me based on all the printouts/copies that I've got, when they're all legal!

Re: What to do during a Trial Lesson/ Consultation? [Re: saerra] #1466339
07/01/10 12:04 PM
07/01/10 12:04 PM
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Olympia, Washington, USA
John v.d.Brook Offline
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You can pretty much tell if they're legal or not. When you recognize that they are just copies of method texts, etc., just ask the student if they have the books at home. 99% of the time, the answer is, "Oh, my last teacher just gave me copies."


"Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn." -- Richard Henry Dann
Full-time Private Piano Teacher offering Piano Lessons in Olympia, WA. www.mypianoteacher.com
Certified by the American College of Musicians; member NGPT, MTNA, WSMTA, OMTA
Re: What to do during a Trial Lesson/ Consultation? [Re: John v.d.Brook] #1466401
07/01/10 01:40 PM
07/01/10 01:40 PM
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Los Angeles
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curtisrollo Offline OP
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How about library books? I'm an avid user of the music library at my college. Does that reflect poorly on me when I bring in library books, or copies from library scores? For example, I have access to CD sheet music (http://www.cdsheetmusic.com/) which is all public domain classical music that you can print from pdf.

Personally, I'm not a big fan of buying sheet music that is in public domain.

Re: What to do during a Trial Lesson/ Consultation? [Re: curtisrollo] #1466415
07/01/10 01:55 PM
07/01/10 01:55 PM
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Olympia, Washington, USA
John v.d.Brook Offline
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Copies? Did you pay the royalties?


"Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn." -- Richard Henry Dann
Full-time Private Piano Teacher offering Piano Lessons in Olympia, WA. www.mypianoteacher.com
Certified by the American College of Musicians; member NGPT, MTNA, WSMTA, OMTA
Re: What to do during a Trial Lesson/ Consultation? [Re: John v.d.Brook] #1466417
07/01/10 01:58 PM
07/01/10 01:58 PM
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Olympia, Washington, USA
John v.d.Brook Offline
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Folks, we're way off topic here, but just a reminder, there's virtually no 20th century music that is not under copyright. If you're copying it, without owning a paid for copy, you're probably doing so illegally.


"Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn." -- Richard Henry Dann
Full-time Private Piano Teacher offering Piano Lessons in Olympia, WA. www.mypianoteacher.com
Certified by the American College of Musicians; member NGPT, MTNA, WSMTA, OMTA
Re: What to do during a Trial Lesson/ Consultation? [Re: John v.d.Brook] #1466537
07/01/10 04:42 PM
07/01/10 04:42 PM
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Bucharest, Romania
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Mirela Offline
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Originally Posted by John v.d.Brook
Copies? Did you pay the royalties?


I think curtisrollo referred to Public Domain classical music.

That is say, Mozart, Beethoven, Schumann, Mendelssohn, and anything written by people that died more than 70 years ago. And if you are into classical playing... that's a whole world of music. imslp.org is also a huge database of those. Basically scans of old editions. And they needn't be bad either! Just take a look at WTK - I personally like the Busoni smile http://imslp.org/wiki/Well-Tempered_Clavier,_Book_1,_BWV_846-869_%28Bach,_Johann_Sebastian%29

And they're all Public Domain.

Yes, it is a copy, and no, I didn't pay any royalties whatsoever - not even the fee to access the cdsheetmusic database that curtisrollo was talking about, but the composers/ editors and the publishers had received their share for all their lifes plus 70 years. So, why would it be bad to bring photocopied music like this?


Piano teacher in Romania
Learning something new every day smile
Re: What to do during a Trial Lesson/ Consultation? [Re: Mirela] #1466590
07/01/10 06:24 PM
07/01/10 06:24 PM
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Olympia, Washington, USA
John v.d.Brook Offline
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The music, from the 19th century, may be out of copyright, but the edition in your library is probably still under copyright. Remember, it's been edited. They, the publisher, editor, have a right to be compensated for their work.

Now, you're talking about yourself, an adult, but the majority of teachers here who have commented on this original topic teach children. I have not run into any 4th graders who have run down to the local music conservatory and copied editions to use in their lessons, but I have run into a number of perspective students, elementary, middle and high school, who have binders full of copied music, music, which when they show me, is very much illegally copied from current print editions. When I ask them where they got the music from, they tell me it's from their previous teacher; thus far, not one has said it was downloaded from the internet. When I query other teachers why they copy copyrighted material, I always get the "music is too expensive" nonsense. These teachers give us a bad rap.

Mirela, I just noticed you're from Romania. European copyright laws are much more lax that US/Canadian laws. It may save you some money, but it hurts your publishing industry.


"Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn." -- Richard Henry Dann
Full-time Private Piano Teacher offering Piano Lessons in Olympia, WA. www.mypianoteacher.com
Certified by the American College of Musicians; member NGPT, MTNA, WSMTA, OMTA
Re: What to do during a Trial Lesson/ Consultation? [Re: John v.d.Brook] #1466612
07/01/10 06:45 PM
07/01/10 06:45 PM
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Ben Crosland Offline
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Originally Posted by John v.d.Brook
When I query other teachers why they copy copyrighted material, I always get the "music is too expensive" nonsense. These teachers give us a bad rap.


Tell me about it - I've met loads of teachers who photocopy for their students, and even before I was published, it used to really bother me. I think it's OK in certain contexts: for instance, if a student really wants to learn something, but has to wait for delivery of the hard copy to arrive in their local music shop - in this situation, a copy to tide them over is acceptable IMO. However, very often, it's down to two main factors: teachers feeling guilty about placing further financial burden on their students (whilst happily side-stepping any guilt they might feel for depriving the composers of their royalties), coupled with a general lack of value that society places on the arts.

People will balk at the price of sheet music - something which could potentially provide them with years of enjoyment, and yet happily go out and spend twice that on a few pints of beer in one evening, or on a t-shirt that they only wear once or twice. I'd happily wager that most families waste far more money throwing away uneaten or even unopened food away each month than they would ever be asked to spend on sheet music!

I don't think it helps though, that all too often, a music book will contain only one or two pieces that students are actually inspired (or able) to play, and teachers are reluctant to advise students or their parents to buy a whole volume, just for the sake of the one piece they really want it for. It could be that online publishing eventually makes this particular problem less of an issue, as it will become easier to purchase single-sheet downloads.

Re: What to do during a Trial Lesson/ Consultation? [Re: John v.d.Brook] #1466620
07/01/10 06:51 PM
07/01/10 06:51 PM
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Whittier, Calif
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I like students to bring music they are out of as well, so that I can tell what they played to get to the level they are at, also if they have any theory. You should ask the teacher if they teach theory along with playing. Don't wear cologne or perfume. Ask if they have a performance venue for you if you are interested. Recitals, offeratory's in church, etc. Cancellation policies so you have a clear understanding of their requirements of you so that the lessons are amicable if something happens. Don't get too nervous if they ask you to sightread some music. They have to figure out your strengths and weaknesses.

Re: What to do during a Trial Lesson/ Consultation? [Re: Roxy] #1466630
07/01/10 07:05 PM
07/01/10 07:05 PM
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curtisrollo Offline OP
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Thanks for the advice. Obviously, the sheet music issue is touchy, and I'd best avoid any ambiguous situations as such.

I'd like to appear as prepared as possible, especially in detailing what I want to improve on.

Has any prospective students asked you really good questions? What kinds of questions should I prepare to answer?

Re: What to do during a Trial Lesson/ Consultation? [Re: Roxy] #1466638
07/01/10 07:19 PM
07/01/10 07:19 PM
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My biggest suggestion is to be very specific about exactly what it is you want to learn. The HARDEST type of trial lesson to give is when I have NO idea what someone wants to get out lessons. Show the teacher things you've been working on. Maybe mention some pieces or styles you're interested in. Come with two or three questions on some measures that have been giving you trouble.

I don't mind when students ask me questions about myself but it is much more helpful for me to be given some direction as to what they want to know.

If you do this, you'll REALLY give the teacher a chance to show you first hand if they can follow your lead, connect with you - your learning style etc.

It's not so much learning about the teacher by asking questions etc. Learn about how they teach and how quickly and easily they can respond on the fly to YOUR agenda, not theirs.


Last edited by danshure; 07/01/10 07:21 PM. Reason: lack of sleep :-)

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Re: What to do during a Trial Lesson/ Consultation? [Re: danshure] #1468403
07/04/10 11:52 PM
07/04/10 11:52 PM
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Los Angeles
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curtisrollo Offline OP
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What is the etiquette on negotiating lesson price? Is it frowned upon, or is there an implicit wiggle room if I pay more upfront, or with some other arrangement?

Re: What to do during a Trial Lesson/ Consultation? [Re: curtisrollo] #1468405
07/04/10 11:59 PM
07/04/10 11:59 PM
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Down Under
currawong Offline
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Originally Posted by curtisrollo
What is the etiquette on negotiating lesson price? Is it frowned upon, or is there an implicit wiggle room if I pay more upfront, or with some other arrangement?
Others may have a different view, but as far as I'm concerned, my fees are my fees. There is no negotiation. If I am offering a discount for paying upfront, I'll say so. You could ask if the teacher offers such a discount, but it's not up to you to negotiate fees.


Du holde Kunst...
Re: What to do during a Trial Lesson/ Consultation? [Re: currawong] #1468413
07/05/10 12:23 AM
07/05/10 12:23 AM
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Olympia, Washington, USA
John v.d.Brook Offline
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I cannot negotiate my fixed cost overhead, which means that if I negotiate fees, I'm directly cutting my income. Of course, as I am writing this from the deck of my 200' yacht, you probably think I'm being a bit parsimonious.

More importantly is what it tells me about you. To me, it says you view lessons mostly as a commodity, not an investment in your future well-being, happiness and enjoyment. And I can probably expect your lesson preparation to match your ideas about fees.

But that's just me. Like currawong, my fees are my fees. If you don't feel what I have to offer you or your child is worth that, then there are cheaper, as well as less expensive, alternatives available for you. TANSTAAFL.



"Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn." -- Richard Henry Dann
Full-time Private Piano Teacher offering Piano Lessons in Olympia, WA. www.mypianoteacher.com
Certified by the American College of Musicians; member NGPT, MTNA, WSMTA, OMTA
Re: What to do during a Trial Lesson/ Consultation? [Re: John v.d.Brook] #1468423
07/05/10 12:44 AM
07/05/10 12:44 AM
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currawong Offline
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Originally Posted by John v.d.Brook
More importantly is what it tells me about you. To me, it says you view lessons mostly as a commodity, not an investment in your future well-being, happiness and enjoyment. And I can probably expect your lesson preparation to match your ideas about fees.
And that's not a message you particularly want to send to your new teacher, whether you meant to or not.

I didn't actually see it quite like that - I was thinking how frustrating I find it when buying things and I find that I'm expected to bargain (just look at any of the piano buying threads on the Piano Forum!). I just find this wheeling and dealing stuff SOOO tiresome (I'm not good at it, for a start!) so I thought that maybe the OP thinks this may be expected. (So, not an attitude thing as much as a "please tell me what's the norm - I don't know" thing.) My answer would be, as I said, to cut it off before it starts. My fees are what they are.

But yes, same answer. smile


Du holde Kunst...
Re: What to do during a Trial Lesson/ Consultation? [Re: currawong] #1468428
07/05/10 01:31 AM
07/05/10 01:31 AM
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I often do the interviewing over the phone. Over time, as a student I have cultivated a set of ideas and values and when I look for a teacher I like to find somebody who respects such ideas and agrees with them. I often ask questions about their teaching, I ask them what they value, what skills they see as most important, what they think about the exam board syllabus, what type of repertoire they teach... the first lesson is to see how they teach and I can also observe how what they think applies when they teach.

Funny, talking to my teacher now, we reflected on that first meeting and see that weeding process as very important.

Re: What to do during a Trial Lesson/ Consultation? [Re: Nannerl Mozart] #1468703
07/05/10 03:50 PM
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You might want to broach the subject of what happens when you disagree about interpretation. Would the teacher be offended? Or would a lively discussion ensue?

I would prefer the latter.


Gretchen Saathoff
Director of Music
Christ United Methodist Church, Northampton, MA
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Re: What to do during a Trial Lesson/ Consultation? [Re: GretchensPianos] #1469005
07/06/10 03:03 AM
07/06/10 03:03 AM
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California
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California
For first consultation sessions, it would be very helpful if my students can provide me:
1. Goal: Everyone wants different outcome from piano lesson. If you are clear about your goal, then your teacher will provide you a path to reach your goal easily. If you are not so sure what you want from piano lesson, then piano teacher can only present what he/she thinks is the best but necessary what you want.
2. Current Level: It will be the best to bring your current book so that your new teacher know where you at. Knowing your current level, your new teacher can provide you a direction where to go next. If you do not have a current book, then you have to prepare to play something for your new teacher so that he/she will "estimate" your current level and suggest what kind of material to use next for you.
3. Personality: I remember one of a mom told me about all her children: oldest one good in cognitive, middle one good in motor skill and youngest good in responding to music (while listening). From these information, I can adjust my teaching style to them.
Other than these, feel free to ask any questions that you have about you new teacher. Make sure you also discuss policy.


English is my 4th languages, please excuse my grammar. Thanks

Moderated by  Ken Knapp 

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