When your child decides to learn piano, there is perhaps no bigger influence on how much they enjoy playing the piano than their teacher and their parents. Much like pianos themselves, piano teachers are all unique with each having their own approach, techniques and views on the best ways to help your child learn piano, so finding the right one for your child will give them the best chance of success and sticking with the piano for life.
Today we wanted to outline the main components and the things to consider when looking for a new piano teacher for your child in an easy to follow guide so you know exactly what to ask your child’s new teacher when making enquiries.
The absolute first place to begin considering when looking for a piano teacher is to research their approach. There are thousands of different ways of learning the piano and whilst many methods are highly successful, some are simply not suited to the way every individual child learns.
This is perhaps best exemplified when you see and hear of adults saying that they learned piano at school but absolutely hated it and gave it up after a few months or a year.
The old approach to piano playing of ‘you must only learn these specific classical pieces’ or ‘ you must drill these same scales for 2 hours every day’ is not only a rather archaic way of learning, but for the most part, does not suit the needs of children today.
With television, YouTube and a million other distractions that children now have at their fingertips, their piano practice needs to become something that they look forward to, are encouraged to pursue and ultimately find a rewarding, creative experience.
This journey of discovery is one of the most powerful tools that parents and teachers can harness to encourage a child to fall in love with piano playing. This is why it is always worthwhile doing a little research into the kinds of speciality a teacher may teach, for example some will have the qualifications and experience to teach children up to a diploma level of play in classical music, however if this is something you know your child would not likely be interested in, perhaps they are not right for your child. Another teacher may be particularly skilled in teaching younger players, so perhaps your teenage son or daughter may not be best suited to them. Some teachers also only prefer teaching students who are already at a certain level of accomplished standard, or are over a particular age.
For example, if your child may have expressed that they are particularly interested in learning either soundtracks or jazz music, if this is the case, then doing a search for local teachers specialising in these genres or areas.
A few interesting approaches to piano teaching are:
Curious Piano Teachers - A highly unique and modern approach to helping teachers understand their students.
The Scaramuzza Technique - An incredibly niche but unique approach to piano playing that encourages students to consider the body as a machine that one must learn to master. This method puts less emphasis on excessive practice, and more about how to master control of the body.
The Suzuki Technique - A form of group and communal learning whereby students all learn the same repertoire and play in unison, developing amazing skills in terms of timing, technique and touch.
You may also find that a piano teacher is more than happy to chop and change techniques to meet the needs of the student. Each of these approaches has their pros, cons and constraints so it is worth contacting any prospective or potential piano teacher for your child what their approach is and how it can be applied to your particular child’s needs.
This is crucial and arguably the most important part of finding the right piano teacher. If your child does not have a good rapport with their piano teacher, they will almost certainly not stick with piano for long. No matter how much you may encourage them to play at home, if they do not have a good relationship or rapport with the teacher, then they will not fully enjoy their lessons and may even dread them each week.
A good piano teacher will also have a great rapport with their parents, often offering activities and advice to help encourage the student to succeed. Asking your teacher which areas your child can improve on or if they have any particular advice for helping them better their playing is a great way to begin building this rapport.
The same is true for the lessons themselves. Again, if we use the example of the older style teaching of ‘do as I say’ without listening to the child’s needs or personal goals, then the lessons are not going to be enjoyable for that child. If you are finding that your child is either going to their lessons or leaving their lessons: un-enthused, bored, scared or upset then chances are that their rapport with their teacher either has not been built far enough or a new approach is needed.
Closely linked to approach when it comes to finding the right piano teacher is budget. Whilst there are some truly sensational concert level piano teachers out there, for many they are often unsuitable for those just looking to learn the basics of piano playing. These teachers can easily charge hundreds, if not thousands of pounds for their lessons, so this is of course something that should also be researched beforehand. We have written about this in our guide to how much piano lessons cost.
Quality does come at a price and for any piano teacher, often the more success they have had, or the higher rate of student distinctions, they will likely begin charging a premium. This is all done on an individual basis and you may also find some fantastic teachers who perhaps charge less but only teach particular hours or pursue piano teaching as more of a personal passion than a full career, so it is all about finding a teacher that works around both yours and your child’s schedule and routine.
Don’t Be Afraid To Switch
When first learning piano, it is always a good idea to book taster sessions with 2 or 3 different piano teachers and ask the child which one they preferred. Having two teachers will oftentimes create a number of different outcomes and results and can help a child realise what they do and do not like about piano playing. From there, you can begin to refine your search further or go with the teacher who you believe fits the bill.
The same can even be said later down the line. If your child’s needs, goals and requirements change as their skills progress, don’t be afraid to reach out to other teachers and enquire about their teaching style. Asking teachers for taster sessions is a fantastic idea here.
This being said, there is still an element of wanting some level of structure and routine to your child’s practice, so we wouldn’t recommend switching piano teachers more than once every year or two, however having multiple approaches to teaching is always a good idea to have in your back pocket and review with your child every few months on what they are looking to learn.
How To Find Teachers Near You:
The first point of call to finding a suitable piano teacher for your child will likely be their school. Many schools will either have heads of music or peripatetic teachers who will be able to teach during school hours. The main thing to note here is that it can be more difficult to see the teacher’s approach here, but with a little rapport building, talking to your child about how they are enjoying their lessons and maybe even arranging a meeting between you and the teacher can all be fantastic ways of determining if they are the right teacher for your child or if you should begin looking elsewhere.
Another fantastic point of call for finding local piano teachers near you is online forums and community groups. Local village/town facebook groups are excellent sources for this, either search the forum for ‘piano’ or ‘piano teachers’, or put a post out yourself and someone will almost definitely get in touch with you or have a friend who they may recommend. The main danger here is that these community groups may have incorrect information or outdated information, so just have your wits about you and don’t discuss or negotiate publicly, but they can be a fantastic point of call to begin your search.
The final best point of call for finding piano teachers near you would be to check your local music shop. They will likely have a list of teachers they recommend or who they have worked with in the past, for example at Millers, we categorise our teachers based on their specialised teaching style or preference of student (for example those who teach using a particular technique, or those who prefer teaching older students) from there we are able to personalise each teacher to the student.
One word of warning and something not to be discouraged by, there are around 20 students to every 1 piano teacher and more often than not, a piano teacher’s student book can be filled incredibly quickly, especially around September and January where many new students are mostly looking for teachers. If a teacher either has no space or capacity for new students, don’t be discouraged, you can always ask to be put on a waiting list, or find another teacher with a similar approach.
We hope that you have found this information useful and now have a few ideas on the kinds of teachers out there and how to find the right one for your child. To learn more about piano guides for parents, read our guide here, or if you are looking to get started with piano, or upgrade your instrument, contact our experts today and visit our piano showroom to learn more!