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Some questions about finding a piano teacher
#2290156 06/15/14 05:21 PM
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I'm an older adult beginner and have been considering finding a piano teacher, but not having any luck so far. Besides a limited selection within a reasonable driving distance, and some only teaching children, I'm running into the following issues/questions:

1) Just about all of the piano teachers I've found doing online searches are set up to teach only 30 minute lessons in semesters, and charge by the month.

I'm looking for 45 or 60 minute weekly lessons charged by the week. It seems to me that 30 minutes isn't much time, or am I wrong about this?

2) Some teachers seem to teach the piano plus multiple other instruments.

Can someone really teach all 2, 3, or more instruments well, or are they spreading themselves a bit thin?

3) Some of the teachers seem really young to me (late teens, 20's), but say for example that they've been playing since they were 4 or 10 or whatever.

But I wonder if they're "mature" enough to be teaching piano, especially if they haven't been taught how to teach?


Linda

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Re: Some questions about finding a piano teacher
TX-Bluebonnet #2290169 06/15/14 06:12 PM
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Linda, many of us teachers are more than willing to offer suggestions for you, but knowing a little more background really helps.

1-Where on earth are you? The Nevada desert or downtown NYC?

2-What kind of music do you like? Are you willing to follow a course of instruction, even if it includes music that's not particularly to your tastes?

3-What kind of instrument will you be practicing on? And how much time do you anticipate having available each day to prepare lessons?

4-Do you have any aspirations of being able to play certain pieces at some point?

This kind of information can be hugely helpful to us as well as to perspective teachers in your area.

To your points - 45 min is the minimum I would suggest. One hour is quite reasonable.

Are you prepared to pay for an hour each week? How much do you think a teacher should charge? Would you be willing to pay $60 to $80 per hour or more?

Teachers set aside a block of time for you. You're paying for that reservation. If you want a teacher to be available at your beck and call, then you'll have to pay more. Fact of life.

I would personally steer clear of teachers teaching several instruments unless you're in a community where there are no other possibilities. I taught beginning violin for a while, until a competent teacher showed up and then I gladly transferred my students to them.

There is something to be said for age - maturity and experience. And we can be cranky as well. [Linked Image]


"Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn." -- Richard Henry Dann
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Re: Some questions about finding a piano teacher
TX-Bluebonnet #2290181 06/15/14 06:38 PM
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Linda,

There are a lot of options out there. I teach on Skype and my lessons are usually well over an hour. And I have a lot of experience. Which is to say the profile you're looking for is out there. But you'll probably have to do a fair amount of searching to find what you want.

But--while I'm giving you this advice as a teacher but I'm not at all suggesting I'm the right teacher for you.

As with everything else there probably are many more mediocre and awful teachers than there are good, great, and excellent ones. For better or worse there's no way to evaluate a teacher other than through experience - yours and theirs - and their reputation based on recommendations from others.

But any of this is subjective - because in the end the teacher that'll really help you is the one you're comfortable with. When you work with that individual it should feel like you're in a collaboration where the goal is to move you further along the piano path.

My opinion is teaching in rigidly defined slots of time - which is the standard way teaching is done and sold and bought - is conducive to scheduling. But not necessarily to learning. But it's the standard. And then again many great fabulous teachers work strictly according to the clock - because it is the standard way it's done. But obviously the effectiveness of lessons depend on many things and not just the number of minutes in the lesson.

My advice is keep looking and keep asking around. And don't settle for a situation that's the best you can find when you know it doesn't feel right to you from the beginning. If you can take a trial lesson with a prospective teacher. Many teachers do offer a free first lesson for exactly this reason. Of course there are many teachers - including excellent teachers - who don't offer a trial lesson.

The teachers you've met so far on Skype or locally in your area may not meet your needs. But if you keep looking you'll find the right teacher - and then your learning will move along in all sorts of interesting - and unexpected - ways. If there's a college or university near you you might check there. There are faculty members who work with beginners - or they may have talented students they'll recommend to you as prospective teachers.

... If you sense in your conversations with prospective teachers that they lack experience they probably do. If you sense their scheduling practice are too rigid for you they probably are. If you sense that ... Well, I think you'll understand what I mean.

About teachers who teach more than one instrument - my experience is that's an individual who may have skills on one instrument and perhaps some ability or general knowledge on another. But it's also my experience that that particular profile is casting the net as widely as possible. But ... If you have a good sense from or about a teacher that's the important thing.

So, again, if you"re looking for a great teacher then keep looking. That person is out there.

I hope this helps ....

Re: Some questions about finding a piano teacher
John v.d.Brook #2290188 06/15/14 06:47 PM
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Hi John,

1- Irving, Texas (near Dallas).

2- I like soft rock, oldies, some pop music, older country, folk songs, etc. Not a big fan of jazz, blues, hard rock, rap. Yes to following a course of instruction.

3- I just bought a 76 key Yamaha YPG-235. I have lots of free time, so at least an hour a day.

4 - No aspirations. I've never played a musical instrument before, and don't have any experience reading music, so just learning to play Happy Birthday yesterday was nice. smile

As for paying for hourly lessons, it'd be stretching my budget. The typical hourly price I've seen around my area is $50. I've started teaching myself online using PianoMarvel, and I like it so far. However, I keep reading about possibly learning bad habits. Plus, when I have a question it'd be nice to ask someone in person, like at a lesson.

I'm not looking for someone to be at my beck and call. If I do end up taking lessons them I'd be looking for regularly scheduled weekly lessons. On the other hand, I'd like the option to stop the lessons at any point, without a monthly commitment.



Linda

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Casio Privia PX-850 (home), Yamaha Upright (lessons)
Re: Some questions about finding a piano teacher
Mark Polishook #2290190 06/15/14 06:55 PM
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Hi Mark,

I did see some Skype options, but wasn't sure about doing it that way.

I hadn't thought about checking with the local colleges, so I'll definitely look into that.

You hit on something that I was a bit worried about, and that is that I would end up settling for a teacher just to have one. You're right, I shouldn't do that and I'm glad you mentioned it. So at this point I'm going to keep on with my online self-teaching method until/unless I can find a teacher I feel comfortable about.

Thank you for your insight.


Linda

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Casio Privia PX-850 (home), Yamaha Upright (lessons)
Re: Some questions about finding a piano teacher
TX-Bluebonnet #2290527 06/16/14 01:59 PM
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Well, this might get you started:

http://www.irvingmta.com/5.html

Music teachers tend to form associations everywhere. Not a guarantee of quality, of course. But it's a start.


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Re: Some questions about finding a piano teacher
AZNpiano #2290546 06/16/14 02:33 PM
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Linda, I suspect your greater problem will be how to sort through an embarrassment of riches than anything else. The Dallas/Ft Worth area is one of our nation's pianist's Mecca's. It reminds me of the man planted in the middle of a vineyard searching for a grape.

Here's a link to a listing of Texas Chapters of the Music Teachers National Association. Quite a few are in your immediate vicinity.

Another resource you can check are your local music stores. Many of them know local teachers quite well, what kind of music they're buying for their students, etc., and can help you in your search.

Several of the Universities in your area have strong music departments and may be able to provide you leads for your search.

Best of luck and let us know how it goes.


"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: Some questions about finding a piano teacher
TX-Bluebonnet #2290578 06/16/14 03:26 PM
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Originally Posted by Linda G
I'm not looking for someone to be at my beck and call. If I do end up taking lessons them I'd be looking for regularly scheduled weekly lessons. On the other hand, I'd like the option to stop the lessons at any point, without a monthly commitment.

You might want to rethink this. For a variety of reasons, teachers often set up lessons to require a month's notice when you end lessons. Being willing to commit to honour the teacher's policy of a month's notice is one way of signalling that you are serious about lessons.


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Re: Some questions about finding a piano teacher
AZNpiano #2290661 06/16/14 07:00 PM
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Originally Posted by AZNpiano
Well, this might get you started:

http://www.irvingmta.com/5.html

Music teachers tend to form associations everywhere. Not a guarantee of quality, of course. But it's a start.


Thank you for the link. I've already started looking through that list. The one's with websites that have any useful information are offering 30 minute lessons in semester format, with a couple having a mandatory recital requirement. I'll keep looking though, maybe make some phone calls later this week.


Linda

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Re: Some questions about finding a piano teacher
John v.d.Brook #2290665 06/16/14 07:05 PM
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Originally Posted by John v.d.Brook
Linda, I suspect your greater problem will be how to sort through an embarrassment of riches than anything else. The Dallas/Ft Worth area is one of our nation's pianist's Mecca's. It reminds me of the man planted in the middle of a vineyard searching for a grape.

Here's a link to a listing of Texas Chapters of the Music Teachers National Association. Quite a few are in your immediate vicinity.

Another resource you can check are your local music stores. Many of them know local teachers quite well, what kind of music they're buying for their students, etc., and can help you in your search.

Several of the Universities in your area have strong music departments and may be able to provide you leads for your search.

Best of luck and let us know how it goes.


I'm sure there are plenty of piano teachers (grapes) in the DFW area (vineyard). I was trying to find someone closer to where I live in Irving, but it looks like I may need to drive a lot farther than I was hoping for.

For whatever reason it hadn't occurred to me to check out local music stores, so thanks for the suggestion.


Linda

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Casio Privia PX-850 (home), Yamaha Upright (lessons)
Re: Some questions about finding a piano teacher
PianoStudent88 #2290672 06/16/14 07:15 PM
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Originally Posted by PianoStudent88
Originally Posted by Linda G
I'm not looking for someone to be at my beck and call. If I do end up taking lessons them I'd be looking for regularly scheduled weekly lessons. On the other hand, I'd like the option to stop the lessons at any point, without a monthly commitment.

You might want to rethink this. For a variety of reasons, teachers often set up lessons to require a month's notice when you end lessons. Being willing to commit to honour the teacher's policy of a month's notice is one way of signalling that you are serious about lessons.


Yes, I have rethought this and understand why a teacher would have this policy for financial/scheduling reasons, and can respect that.


Linda

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Re: Some questions about finding a piano teacher
TX-Bluebonnet #2290985 06/17/14 11:08 AM
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Linda, your instincts are correct. Insist on 45-minute lessons, or go ahead and stretch your budget and take hourly lessons. Weekly. Find a teacher you feel comfortable with, and that might well exclude a teacher much younger than yourself, or the college girl around the corner.

If a potential teacher tells you she has other adult students with similar aspirations to yours, that's a good sign. But not a requirement. Really anybody can get you started at this, but if you have chosen a dilettante teacher, be prepared to switch to a real piano teacher after 6-12 months.

Take a trial paid lesson or two if you're not sure.

Re: Some questions about finding a piano teacher
Peter K. Mose #2291348 06/17/14 10:14 PM
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Originally Posted by Peter K. Mose
Linda, your instincts are correct. Insist on 45-minute lessons, or go ahead and stretch your budget and take hourly lessons. Weekly. Find a teacher you feel comfortable with, and that might well exclude a teacher much younger than yourself, or the college girl around the corner.

If a potential teacher tells you she has other adult students with similar aspirations to yours, that's a good sign. But not a requirement. Really anybody can get you started at this, but if you have chosen a dilettante teacher, be prepared to switch to a real piano teacher after 6-12 months.

Take a trial paid lesson or two if you're not sure.


I sent off a few emails today. Hopefully will hear back from someone soon. I'm glad to see so many agree to take longer than 30 minute lessons if possible. I still like the idea of hour long lessons, so that's what I'm shooting for.

I had to look up "dilettante." Thanks for my new word for today. smile



Linda

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Re: Some questions about finding a piano teacher
TX-Bluebonnet #2292728 06/20/14 07:59 PM
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I'm sure nobody's losing any sleep over this, but just thought I'd update to say I think I have a piano teacher now! My first lesson is tomorrow afternoon. I found her through WyzAnt, an online source to find tutors.

I'm so excited!! grin


Linda

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Re: Some questions about finding a piano teacher
TX-Bluebonnet #2292799 06/20/14 11:35 PM
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Grats!


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