3 Simple Steps to Find a Good Piano Teacher
Rose Park 11/15/21 • 4 min read
There are three steps you should keep in mind when finding a good piano teacher for yourself or your child.
In this post, I will explain why you should actively look for good piano teachers. Good piano teachers are different from those who claim they know how to play piano or have years of teaching experience or majored in guitar or violin but know how to play piano.
Good, professional piano teachers are exceptionally different.
If you want to really find the best piano teacher for you (or who your child will be studying with), this is the right place for you. Let’s learn the Three Steps.
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Types of Degree
Most professional, qualified and talented piano teachers receive academic and performance focused training from the top music universities and conservatories.
The curriculums offered at the top music schools are intense. While taking various academic courses, piano students practice countless hours to prepare for weekly hour-long lessons, studio classes, performances and competitions. Typically, piano students spend at least 4 or 5 hours every day practicing various pieces to become better musicians (not including time spent for coursework). This is how the average students majoring in piano performance spend most of the time mastering piano, and this cannot be replicated by someone who majored in a different instrument or field.
I would strongly encourage you to do some research on the potential piano teacher’s degrees. Did they major in piano? The closer the degree is related to piano performance, the higher the quality of piano lessons.
Levels of Degree
Ideally, a good piano teacher would have at least a Bachelor’s degree in piano performance. It’s a plus when the teacher has a minor in pedagogy, music education, music theory, or music history, because they’ll be able to give better rounded lessons as a result. Additionally, a teacher with a Master’s degree or Doctorate in piano performance indicates the teacher is highly professional in both performing and teaching piano.
Another thing to look at is whether the teacher holds a degree in music education with a focus in piano performance. Note that teachers with music education degrees study general music education rather than focusing on the performance side of piano music.
I would highly recommend them if you want to learn general music theory, or if the child is particularly young, or if you are just looking for basic skills like reading music. As you get more advanced, you’ll likely want to switch to a teacher who majored in performance.
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Levels of Music School
Here is a recent informal list of rankings for the best music schools for piano in the US:
Note the rankings listed in sites are different from how professional pianists rank the schools because each music program is unique by its size, history, faculty and focus areas or department.
For instance, Berkeley School of Music has one of the best Jazz Piano departments because of its history and successful alumni and they often rank high in lists. However, it’s likely that Eastman School of Music has a bigger and better classical piano department resulting in a higher number of talented classical pianists.
Competitions, Performance Experience
The performance level can be assessed by the number of competitions and awards you can find in the resume or their professional websites. There are countless numbers of piano competitions in the world and it’s hard to tell which competitions are competitive and harder to win than the others.
In any case, a professional piano teacher should at least put several competitions, awards and performance experiences (recitals, tours, masterclasses and concerto performances, etc.) because it shows they had spent considerable time and effort in practicing and mastering piano.
Many piano teachers list a number of teaching years in their resume. Teaching experience matters although I would stress that a decent degree should come first. Note there are many piano teachers with lesser musical backgrounds who claim to have 5 or 10 years experience of teaching.
There is nothing wrong about it but if you want to find a good piano instructor with a professional background, research the teachers in this order: school name, type or level of the degree, performance experience, teaching experience.
Check Performance Recordings
While watching the recording, ask these questions to yourself:
– What’s the first impression of the appearance?
– How does a teacher move their fingers and hands on the keyboard?
– Do you like the music the teacher plays?
Ideally, a good piano instructor would have many recordings of their recital, competition and collaborative performance. Having many available recordings means they are confident in playing piano and have a considerable amount of repertoire.
It’s not a must-do but it’s recommended if the teacher has done and passed the background check. Some music lesson websites such as Lesson With You offer live professional teachers who are background checked. It feels extra safer for both child and parents when the teacher is fully background checked.
A good piano instructor communicates with the parents regularly on the student’s learning progress. It’s very important that parents know how their child does in the lesson so that they can share ideas about piano with the child. If the feedback from the teacher is not great, parents should encourage and motivate their child to prepare better for the lessons in the future.
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