Choosing a Piano Teacher
How do I select the right piano teacher for my child?
Choosing a piano teacher or program for your child is an important decision, and with so many options out there it can be difficult to feel that you are making the right choice. We recommend the following three steps as you explore different possibilities:
1. Interview the Teacher
Both you and the teacher should feel confident that your child will fit well into the teacher’s studio. Find a time to meet with the teacher in his or her studio one-on-one. As you talk to the teacher, you will want to find out the answers to some of these questions:
- What are the teacher’s qualifications? Does he or she have a degree in piano performance or pedagogy (teaching)?
- Does the teacher continue their professional training and keep up with the latest innovations in teaching, or do they stick to the same old methods no matter what?
- Does the teacher have any sort of listening program to encourage students to get to know the music of the masters?
- Does the teacher offer the opportunity to participate in festivals and competitions?
- What are the teacher’s personal teaching philosophies and goals for their students?
It’s likely that the teacher will have some questions for you, too, so be prepared to share what your child’s musical goals are and what kind of commitment your family is prepared to have for practice time at home.
2. Observe a Lesson
Observing another student’s lesson gives you the chance to see what aspects of the lesson the teacher emphasizes and how they interact with students. Ask the teacher when would be a good time for you to come observe him or her teach. Ask yourself the following questions as you observe:
- Is the lesson well-rounded? A comprehensive piano lesson should include working on memorized repertoire, technique, sightreading, musicianship, hymns, and theory.
- What incentives does the teacher use? Incentives are fun and can be especially helpful for young children.
- Is the teacher enthusiastic, encouraging, positive, and inspiring?
If there is anything about the lesson that you don’t understand, be sure to ask the teacher afterward!
3. Call a Parent
Ask the teacher if there is a parent of another student that you could talk to. This gives you an added perspective on the teacher’s policies and methods. Here are some of the things you’ll want to ask the parent:
- How often does the teacher hold recitals? Are student performances memorized and polished? Do students who perform in recitals have good performance etiquette?
- Do students in this teacher’s studio make good progress?
- Do students in this studio generally develop good rhythm?
- Does the teacher make a valiant effort to find music that the students will enjoy and love to play?
- Do you and your children find the teacher to be positive and inspiring?
If you and your child are comfortable with the teacher you’re interviewing and can answer yes to all of the above questions, you’ve found a great teacher!