How to Find an
Exceptional Piano Teacher

The Ultimate Guide to Choosing the Best Piano Instructor

Picture of Rose Park

Rose Park

11/15/21• updated 3/18/24 • 4 min read

When you look for a piano teacher either online or in-person, sometimes it’s just quite hard to tell whether the instructor is professional, friendly and suited for you.

Which piano instructor should you ultimately choose? How can you tell if instructor A is better at teaching piano than instructor B? Who is more likeable?

You should actively shop around and choose an exceptional piano teacher for you because they may have a huge impact on your learning journey. Students learn a lot from watching and imitating the way teachers play piano, think about music, level of technique, expression and musical nature.

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Get a professional piano instructor from the start

The sooner you meet an ideal, experienced piano instructor, the faster you will excel in piano with a solid technique. This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to pay extra to hire someone with impressive teaching and educational backgrounds. Whether a piano teacher teaches online, in-person or hybrid, you should make sure that your piano teacher will:

  • tailor your learning curriculum
  • inspire a love of music
  • motivate you to challenge and grow 
  • give constant, detailed feedback

Many piano learners make mistakes by trying to start with an ordinary teacher who also charges less, and then switching to a better instructor. One thing to note in this shifting process is that you will likely experience confusion in learning, which can take up to years for you to get rid of any bad habits including posture, fingering, hand and wrist control.

Every teacher is unique and puts a different amount of emphasis in terms of lesson curriculum. Some piano teachers focus more on the technical side of piano whereas as some teachers might tell you to focus on playing more musically.

Check the teacher's educational background

Degrees in Piano Performance or Pedagogy

Where possible, make sure to check the potential teacher’s degree they received during college. The best piano instructors will hold advanced degrees (Master’s or Doctorate) in piano performance from top music schools and be able to demonstrate a high level of performance through recordings, number of competition prizes and frequency of public performance opportunities. Here are some suggestions for questions to ask related to degrees:
  • Are you majored in piano performance or non-piano fields?
  • Do you have at least a Bachelor’s degree in piano?
  • Did you take any courses in piano pedagogy, music education, music theory or music history?

For Parents: If you’re looking for a piano teacher for your child, you can also look for someone who majored in music education with a focus in piano performance. These instructors can teach basic skills like reading music, theory and general foundation of piano playing.  When your child is ready to advance, possibly within a year or so, you should start thinking about switching to a piano teacher with advanced degrees in piano.

How to find an exceptional piano teacher - Lesson With You Article

Competitions and Performance Experience

When finding a piano teacher, it’s best to see if the teacher has listed any performance related accomplishments. This includes winning prizes from piano competitions, making a debut, collaborating with other musicians and giving solo or concerto performances.

The first thing you should do is to go to the piano teacher’s professional website and read their bio. If there are any live performance recordings listed, take time to watch the recordings.

Your potential piano teacher should at least put several descriptions of winning or participating in domestic or international piano competitions. Their resume should also include summary of their performance experiences such as recitals, tours, summer festivals, masterclasses and concerto performances. 

Teaching Experience in Piano

In addition to checking the teacher’s degree online, it’s also important to look for a piano instructor with at least 3 years of teaching experience. The best piano teachers will almost certainly learn piano pedagogy class during college which demonstrates a high foundational level of teaching.

That being said, you should also look for someone who is comfortable teaching piano with method books. Method books are considered to be a great learning resource for beginners and children, so make sure to ask your teacher about using piano method books.

Background Check

Not every piano teacher lists this online, but you should check if the teacher has done and passed a comprehensive background check, especially if the lesson is for your child. Some live online piano lesson websites, such as Lesson With You, offer free trial lessons with professional piano instructors who are fully background checked.

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Questions to ask when choosing a piano teacher

About the lessons

Once you’re done with narrowing down a number of potential piano teachers, the next step is to talk with them. Here are some recommendations for questions to ask:

  • How much does each lesson cost?
  • When and how do you prefer payment for lessons?
  • Is there a cancellation policy? If so, are there any fees?
  • Can I reschedule lessons?
  • Do you offer weekly lessons or package?
  • Is there a family discount available?
  • I want to refer a student. What’s the next step?

About the lesson curriculum

  • How many piano students do you teach? What ages and levels?
  • How do you build a lesson plan? Is the curriculum personalized?
  • Do you expect students to participate in recital, jury or competition? 
  • What are your practice expectations for beginners and advanced students?
  • Which piano method books do you use?
  • How to do motivate students to practice piano and improve?
  • How long should it take for a student (beginner or intermediate) to level up?

Take a trial lesson first

When contacting potential piano teachers, make sure to ask if they offer trial lessons. Taking a trial lesson will give you fresh insights on a couple of things: 

  • Does the teacher speak clearly and ask appropriate questions to the student? How does the teacher respond to the answers the student provided and vice versa?

  • How does the teacher initiate and lead the piano lesson? Is the lesson engaging? How frequent does the teacher play piano and show the technique to the student?

  • What’s the teacher like? Happy, quiet or rather moody? Is the teacher likeable?

  • How often does the teacher give feedback? Are they direct or indirect? Does the teacher pay enough attention to detail and correct the student? It’s also important to see how the student responds to the compliment and criticism.

  • How does the instructor end the lesson? When the instructor gives assignments or homework, does the student leave the lesson clear on what to work on next?
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How to choose the right piano teacher after a trial lesson

Take plenty of time to choose the right piano instructor for you. Besides evaluating the trial lesson and teacher quality, consider these following aspects before making a decision.

Lesson Costs

According to our recent piano lesson cost guide, the average cost is $40 for a half hour piano lesson. Live online lessons using video chats typically charge between $20-40 for a half hour lesson. Local private piano lessons averages $40 per half hour lesson, while in-person group lessons can cost $20 for the same amount of time.

Flexible Scheduling

Your ideal piano instructor should offer a flexible scheduling and rescheduling option. Of course, it’s not a good sign when a teacher (or a student) cancels or reschedules lessons too often, but knowing the teacher offers a rescheduling option can be a plus.

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Lesson and Teacher Reviews

When finding a piano teacher online or in-person, you should always check and read the lesson reviews. If you’re particularly looking for a live online piano lesson, you will notice the reviews left in the teacher profile. If 8 or 9 out of 10 reviews are positive, that means the teacher is great and able to teach a high-quality piano lesson. 

If you want to get in-person piano lesson recommendations, you can ask friends, neighbors or even find a piano teacher online and ask if they offer lessons in person. 


Not many piano lesson providers require long term commitment or contracts these days, but you’d still want to make sure if there’s a contract required or not before setting up the first lesson. It’s also recommended for students to check the type of payment the teacher prefers and when to send the payment.

Need help with finding a potential piano instructor?

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Picture of Rose Park

Rose Park

Rose Park is a graduate of the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University where she studied Piano Performance and Arts Administration, receiving both Bachelor's and Master's degrees before co-founding Lesson With You. As a pianist, Rose was a prizewinner in many international piano competitions and performed at various summer programs and festivals across the United States, Italy, and Japan.