What Should You Look For In A Piano/Music Teacher?

So you’ve decided you’d like to begin learning the Piano (or any other instrument) with the guidance of a Teacher; but how can you pick a teacher who is right for you and your learning aims? In this article, I’m going to discuss what you should expect from music tuition, and how to find a good Piano teacher. Written by a Piano/Music Teacher…

*Please note, I’m absolutely not going to be describing myself here – read on to find out why!

Don’t automatically settle for the teacher nearest to you – You will probably do a quick ‘piano teacher near me’ google search and get in touch with the first person who happens to be nearest on maps. Whilst this may be more convenient for you, they may not necessarily be the right teacher for you. I’d highly recommend arranging trial/taster lessons with a few different teachers before settling on the lucky person who gets to take you on your new musical venture. When I meet a new potential student for the first time, I’m always surprised if they say they haven’t trialled elsewhere when asked…

Equally, don’t just choose the teacher who charges the least… – I’m just going to say it: there’s probably a reason as to why they’re the cheapest. They could be inexperienced, not have the right education, or not have the best equipment/instrument to teach with. HOWEVER; I was once a fresh enthusiastic music graduate who dived into teaching straight after finishing my degree, and made sure I had the most competitive prices in my area. I was grateful to any new student who chose me and I quickly built valuable, real teaching experience. Was I the best teacher back then? Probably not. Did I do a little bit of ‘fake it till I make it’? Yes I did, and I’m now a fully booked, ruddy good music teacher with a waiting list, not charging the least in my area. Currently in the UK, Musicians Union recommends music teachers charge between £30-£40 per hour, depending on location and teacher’s experience/credentials.

Make sure they have a cleared DBS/CRB check – this is essential for obvious reasons, not just for music tuition, but for ANY private tuition. If you’re looking for a teacher for your little one, this is even more important. If they have completed a ‘Child Awareness’ or ‘Child Safety’ course, that’s even better.

A teaching qualification is ideal, but not always necessary…- I do not have any teaching qualifications. I have gone to apply a few times in the past, only to remember that I’m already a busy teacher who would struggle to find the time to complete the coursework. There have now been dozens occasions where I’ve taught students who were having lessons elsewhere from a teacher with qualified teacher status, who were quite frankly clueless about music when I took over as their teacher. This isn’t always the case, but it goes to show that experience often trumps qualifications.

If no teaching qualification, what other credentials do they have? – Does this teacher at least have a Music Degree? Grade 8 Piano? Have they taught in other Music Education establishments? Maybe they’re a high-credited session musician or composer alongside being a teacher? Just some things to consider.

Does your teacher really understand your learning aims? – A good music teacher should listen and take on board what you’re passionate about, and curate steps to help you achieve your aspirations, whilst recognising your learning style in the process (eg; kinetic, visual, audible), adapting their teaching style to suit YOU. A teacher should NOT turn their nose up and laugh at you because you love the music of Ludovico Einaudi (real story from a student who described their trial lesson experience with a teacher before they found me). Snobbery is unfortunately a thing, and your musical tastes/aspirations should NOT be laughed at or not taken seriously. Pick a teacher who wants to help you connect with the music you’re passionate about, whether that be Funk, Country, 80s Pop or Boogie Woogie. Not everyone aspires to become a Classical concert pianist. Some teachers only know how to teach one way and are very set in their ‘methods’. Making sure they make the effort to tailor-make your tuition is key (excuse the pun…).

What’s their student pass exam rate like? – If you’re looking to work towards exams, or think it may be something you’re interested in, don’t be afraid to ask openly about the success rate of their student’s exams.

Ultimately, do you feel that you have a good rapport with them? – Learning any instrument should be an enjoyable and rewarding experience. Developing a great rapport with your teacher is SO important and makes it that much more enjoyable. You should feel like you can be honest with your music teacher and not feel intimidated by them!

This was an opinion piece written by Francesca Murray.