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#2000473 - 12/16/12 10:09 PM Selecting a Piano Teacher -- What to Consider?
tone_depth Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/19/12
Posts: 30
Loc: Az, USA
I've been self-studying piano for several years, but have recently decided that I will make more progress under the direction of a piano teacher.

In my school years I took clarinet private lessons and played in musical groups during school. As an adult I took class piano and private voice lessons and performed in music groups, so I have an understanding of some relevant music theory and the discipline to practice.

I will be getting recommendations from several pianists for local piano teachers teaching adults. My question is what characteristics and experience should I consider in selecting a piano teacher?

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#2000524 - 12/17/12 01:08 AM Re: Selecting a Piano Teacher -- What to Consider? [Re: tone_depth]
Bobpickle Offline

Gold Supporter until July 10  2014

Registered: 05/24/12
Posts: 1393
Loc: Cameron Park, California
Originally Posted By: tone_depth
I will be getting recommendations from several pianists for local piano teachers teaching adults. My question is what characteristics and experience should I consider in selecting a piano teacher?

1)Know your desired focus (and factor in that it can change over time);
-Classical piano
-Composition/improvisation (Classically focused)
-All of the above

Often what teachers have to offer will be limited to just one of the above, but there are many experienced with a bit of all.

2)Know that all teachers aren't created equal. Several will be extremely competent players of varying styles, but that knowledge and experience is useless if they can't articulate and convey it to you in a way that you can understand - determining if this will or won't be the case is the most important thing for you and on this list.

2.5)Some teachers will have advanced degrees. All things equal, I'd lean towards someone with a degree. That being said, a degree in Piano Pedagogy (Piano-specific teaching) may indicate that the particular teacher is specifically interested in teaching students for a career and witnessing and partaking in their growth as musicians rather than simply teaching a few days a week as a fallback for extra income (not that the two obviously can't coincide). This all being said, there are, of course, exceptions to the rule - my teacher being one such degree-less example. I'd be lying, however, if I didn't think my teacher would benefit from some pedagogy studies. In this situation, you're far safer making generalizations than not, especially when less-experienced.

3)Do you connect with the teacher [in your interview/trial lesson]? It's absolutely essential that you're comfortable approaching your teacher about any and all troubles so that your mind can always be at ease and focused on your musician's journey and not various concerns/worries. I list this as number 3 because it can take time and doesn't need to be immediate if numbers 1 & 2 were satisfactory.

Having been in your shoes self-teaching as well as in the shoes of a student with a teacher's guidance, I've come to much prefer the latter. Good luck and keep us posted.
"[The trick to life isn't] just about living forever. The trick is still living with yourself forever."

#2000537 - 12/17/12 01:54 AM Re: Selecting a Piano Teacher -- What to Consider? [Re: tone_depth]
FarmGirl Offline

Silver Supporter until Jan 02 2013

Registered: 09/14/10
Posts: 2269
Loc: Scottsdale, AZ
Know yourself, your goal, your need / requirements pretty much determined what kind of teacher is good for you. At the beginning, IMO it's important to get a teacher who can teaches you fundamentals correctly. I think there are a lot of good teachers. As BobPickle mentioned above, I will go for people with music degrees. It does not mean that there aren't good teacher who are not degree'ed but it's a safer pick. And of course, you have to have some personal rapport .
Pieces for this year to be decided soon.

#2000604 - 12/17/12 08:06 AM Re: Selecting a Piano Teacher -- What to Consider? [Re: tone_depth]
ZoeCalgary Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/01/11
Posts: 748
Loc: Calgary Alberta
When you meet and talk with a potential teacher tell them your goals and see if they listen. I found some don't listen and set out a method (the one they are most comfortable with not necessarily the one best for you) without regard for what you say. Ask lots of questions about their approach. This will give you a sense of personality and style. Ask what a typical lesson involves. Ask their views on exams. Ask about performance opportunities. This will give you a well rounded view of their approach.

Good luck. You are ahead of the game in that you know the process required for learning on your part. You just have to find a good match in a teacher to help you.

I personally chose the degree'd teachers as well. It just seems like a good baseline to start from. I recently had a break in lessons and then had to switch teachers due to scheduling issues and work. I had no issues with my first teacher and wouldn't have switched otherwise. But I did and found it confirmed for me that learning is better with a teacher. And, my new teacher makes me feel more relaxed. I don't know why but she does. I really enjoy my time with her. I would say a better fit for me. I think it's because we chat a bit at the start of the lesson and this relaxes me. (my first didn't do this hardly ever and it always made things feel more formal than it needed to be). I'm sure she just didn't want to waste my time but we are only talking 5 minutes.

Anyway all that to say. Find somebody you are comfortable with.

#2000676 - 12/17/12 12:25 PM Re: Selecting a Piano Teacher -- What to Consider? [Re: tone_depth]
Brent H Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/06/11
Posts: 843
Almost without exception the characteristic of "flexibility" is key to a good relationship between an adult music student and a music teacher. On both sides.

Very few adults, especially those who have been around the musical block a few times, are going to get on well with a My Way Or The Highway sort of teacher.

And many of us adults have incomplete or unreasonable conceptions of how we ought to go about achieving our long term musical goals (assuming we have any).

So find a teacher with the flexibility to offer help directed specifically at your goals. Then be sure to keep an open mind yourself. When he or she tells you something you didn't expect and don't want to hear, take it to heart and give it an honest effort.

Also, I'd suggest if you are interested in jazz you don't want to be the only jazz-oriented student of a teacher with a full slate of classical students. And vice versa. A teacher who loves and ideally performs at least the general type of music you wish to pursue is a great benefit...

...unless you want to play nothing but Ludovico Einaudi...in which case heaven help you... ha I kid, I kid!

Edited by Brent H (12/17/12 12:27 PM)
Current Life+Music Philosophy: Less Thinking, More Foot Tapping

Ars Longa, Vita Brevis

#2000844 - 12/17/12 07:11 PM Re: Selecting a Piano Teacher -- What to Consider? [Re: tone_depth]
malkin Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/18/09
Posts: 4111
Loc: *sigh* Salt Lake City
Some teachers will not be interested in accepting you as a student.
Having power is not nearly as important as what you choose to do with it.
– Roald Dahl


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