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Question about getting a piano teacher

Posted By: pcarpy

Question about getting a piano teacher - 11/01/12 10:30 PM

So I went today to sign up for piano lessons at a music store in Dover, Delaware. I was under the impression that when signing up for lessons, at the beginning of each month you would decide what days of the week you could go to a lesson. So I had my work schedule with me for November, but he said that basically I had to choose a day and time and that will always be my day and time. He also said that as far as he knows all piano instructors would have the same criteria. I am not able to do this, because I am stationed here in the military and usually work 3 days on, 3 days off, sometimes 2 on and 2 off, and rotate from days to nights monthly. So some days I may have to have my lesson on monday, sometimes tuesday, etc. So I guess my question is, is that the norm? I tried to google piano lessons in Dover, DE, to find out if I have more options. I did find a list of private teachers that I will call, but I do wish it showed a little bit more info about them online. Any advice would be appreciated.
Posted By: JeanieA

Re: Question about getting a piano teacher - 11/01/12 10:45 PM

Hi, pcarpy, welcome to the forum!

I've had a few teachers along the way and yes - having the same day/time of the week for your lesson has been the norm in my experience. But I have always gone to a private teacher, not a music store, for my lessons.

Couple of suggestions: first, you may want to post your query in the Piano Teachers' forum too, as the experts may have some sage advice for you. Secondly, you may want to investigate Skype lessons, as they may be a little less rigid on times.

Best of luck in finding a solution that works for you!
Posted By: TromboneAl

Re: Question about getting a piano teacher - 11/01/12 11:46 PM

You're paying, just tell them what you need, and if they can't accommodate you, get someone else. It's that simple.

Posted By: malkin

Re: Question about getting a piano teacher - 11/02/12 12:16 AM

Tell 'em the situation. Tell 'em you're in the military.
It probably won't work for many people, but somewhere out there, there's a teacher for you; it may take a while to find him or her. Good luck!
Posted By: 4evrBeginR

Re: Question about getting a piano teacher - 11/02/12 06:18 AM

Yeah, same day same time every week is pretty normal practice in lessons. Most piano teachers start teaching when children and adults are out of school and work in the afternoon into the early evening. Their schedules are not flexible because they have 35 or 40 students (or they try to). However, if you are able to take your lessons before the crowd during a time when the teacher is basically off, it's possible you may be able to do a different day/time each week. Of course, you may also be working then.
Posted By: Derulux

Re: Question about getting a piano teacher - 11/02/12 12:01 PM

Yeah, I agree with pretty much everything said. One other consideration is that you may not be able to have a lesson every week. The more flexibility you can offer to a potential teacher, the easier it will be for them to work with you. But I agree with what's been said, you just have to call a bunch and ask around.

Assuming you're at Dover AFB? Wish you were closer to Philly, I'd find a way to help you out.. but I just don't know anybody down your way.
Posted By: joyoussong

Re: Question about getting a piano teacher - 11/02/12 02:01 PM

I've had lessons every 2nd week for 4 years, with 2 different teachers. The first teacher taught mostly kids after school, & since I tutor (mostly) kids for a living, my lessons were always in the morning. They were usually on the same day of the week, but often shifted from the 2nd week to the third by one or the other of us. We worked it on a "confirm 48 hours in advance" basis. With my current teacher, who's a college student, my lessons are also usually on the same day, but sometimes one or the other of us has to reschedule & then it may be on a different day and/or time.

I think it depends on how you approach it with a teacher. As a tutor, I work on much the same kind of schedule as a piano teacher. A few weeks ago, a uni student contacted me (by e-mail) & said she wanted a tutor but couldn't commit to a regular place or time because of her studies and her work schedule; she didn't say very much else. I can't & won't promise to be available for someone who says "I only want to do this in my spare time," because I have 6 other students, 2 of those 2x per week & 2 wait-listed, as well as a lot of other activities. I really don't have much spare time, & if someone wants a piece of it they're not likely to get it without some kind of prior commitment.

On the other hand, if she had phrased it differently, we might have arranged something. I've worked with a couple of uni students on a casual basis. Each of them started by asking for help on a particular paper & when they contacted me, each one told me the topic of the paper, the schedule (when draft & final version were due) & at what stages they thought they'd need help. With both of them, each time we met we tentatively scheduled a next meeting. It worked out fine. I worked with both those guys till they graduated.

I think if you're able to schedule for a month at a time, a week or so in advance & give the teacher some flexibility as to when to accommodate you, you'll have a good chance of finding a private teacher. Also, at the same time that you're asking to be on a schedule that varies from month-to-month, let the teacher know that, if the initial lesson works out OK for both of you, your lessons will be a (fairly) long-term endeavour.
Posted By: BillTheSlink

Re: Question about getting a piano teacher - 11/02/12 03:47 PM

I might add, to find a list of people offering piano lessons in your city don't just Google, "Piano lessons X City", but go to Craigslist and search for piano lessons. For some reason in my city the Craigslist classifieds don't show up on Google.

Another thing you might try is going to a local liberal arts college with some printed out flyers in hand explaining you want a piano teacher with your requirements and stop into the office and ask where you can post them. College students typically are off all night and have gaps you might fill during their day and many have days off.

In all honesty I believe if you contact a lot of people who could help you and explain your situation in the military someone will help you. Thankfully this isn't the 1970's any more and most people will go out of their way to help active duty military and vets. As someone said before look into Skype lessons as a last resort. You might also post some stuff around base. Do you have any idea how many wives likely grew up playing piano in church and still play at home? I take it since this is the beginners forum you're not looking for concert pianist level instruction so I bet you can find someone on base to get you started.
Posted By: Peter K. Mose

Re: Question about getting a piano teacher - 11/02/12 09:48 PM

Military or not, this potential student would be a challenge to a busy or fulltime piano teacher. Sure, some college kid moonlighting as a piano teacher would be more flexible, and might be ok to work with, but that's hardly the sort of teacher I would recommend our OP seek out.

Instead, I would urge him or her to seek the best independent teacher of adult beginners in the area, and then perhaps be prepared to pay extra for the inability to commit to a weekly lesson slot. Or be prepared for many rejections.

This person may have to just give up on the idea of piano lessons at present, and try to learn without a teacher.

Posted By: pcarpy

Re: Question about getting a piano teacher - 11/02/12 10:33 PM

Thanks for all the responses and advice. Just to clarify, it would not be a problem scheduling at the beginning of the month for the whole month. As I do know what days and shift I am going to be working when the schedule is put out at the beginning. And in the rare case they switched it up on me, I'd be willing to eat the money. And yes, I am at Dover AFB and a beginner. I also did look on Craigslist and found a couple on there I will try to contact. So come Monday, I'll just go down the list and start calling people, trying to clearly state my situation and see what happens. And if all else fails, I will think about looking into Skype. Thanks again.
Posted By: pianonewb

Re: Question about getting a piano teacher - 11/02/12 11:00 PM

If I were you, I would consider self teaching through Alfred's Adult Method. There are a few others as well, though I'm not familiar with them. But Alfred's, and courses like them, will take you from a rank beginner who doesn't even know how to sit at the piano, and teach you how to play, and read, music. You will get out of that course everything you put into it.
Posted By: Peter K. Mose

Re: Question about getting a piano teacher - 11/03/12 09:38 AM

OTH, there are probably some good teachers whose schedules are not entirely full, who could accommodate this month-to-month floating arrangement.
Posted By: Bobpickle

Re: Question about getting a piano teacher - 11/05/12 12:48 AM

I'm sure there are those who would be willing to assist you - if you're not able to find a teacher locally that can oblige because of scheduling difficulties, maybe look into local community college teachers, or even music students studying performance or pedagogy. It may take more looking than you originally had planned to do, but you could certainly find a workaround and somebody willing to lend a hand
Posted By: lizzie3

Re: Question about getting a piano teacher - 11/06/12 05:29 PM

Im in the same situation. I work shift work and unfortunately only have the next 1-2 weeks worth of shifts. Although I agree that most teachers want a single time slot, they all dont require it.

Ive had 3 teachers: 1st did a lot of volunteer work and SHE couldnt commit to a regular time slot.

2nd was a music major and very able and willing to work around my availability

3rd and current just moved here (for husbands job) and is unemployed so took what she could get lol. She is actually the best of the 3.

Dont give up looking for a flexible teacher - but also dont settle, or think you need to pay more $$. It will take longer but you'll find someone!!
Posted By: malkin

Re: Question about getting a piano teacher - 11/07/12 01:05 PM

Hey pcarpy--be sure to keep us posted on your search.
Inquiring minds want to know!
Posted By: Morodiene

Re: Question about getting a piano teacher - 11/07/12 01:25 PM

I'm pretty confident that if you are upfront with the potential teachers that you speak with about your situation, you will find someone that can accommodate that. Especially if they can see you during hours that don't interfere with busy times (after school).

I also recommend avoiding schools, unless they are well-established conservatories (but tend to be more expensive). It's no guarantee you will get better quality teaching with a private instructor, but I just know that many schools like that do not pay their teachers well, an so there is usually a revolving door which is hard on a student to adjust to a new teacher every 6 months or so.
Posted By: pcarpy

Re: Question about getting a piano teacher - 11/13/12 09:57 PM

Hey Lizzie3, how did you go about finding these teachers?
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