It occurred to me that for someone who has never bought a piano or arranged lessons it might be a bit overwhelming, so I started to write about how to actually get started learning the piano.  In my last blog I suggested getting a piano and getting a teacher – but how do you actually go about doing those things?  These are quite tricky decisions to make, especially if you’re doing this for the first time.  As I’ve been writing, it’s got so long that I’ve decided to break it into different posts.  1.  How to find a teacher.  2.  How to choose a piano.  3.  How to choose a beginner book to learn from.

So first, I’m going to give some tips about finding a teacher.  I would say finding a teacher is the first thing to do since a teacher will be able to advise you about buying a piano and which beginner book to buy, (if any) and it’s a good idea to wait to start your lessons until you have your piano set up ready for practice.

So – how to find a teacher.  These tips apply equally to finding a teacher for an adult or a child.

 

Some teachers will come to your home to give you lessons – usually the more expensive option as they charge for their travel time and petrol.  Other teachers teach from their home or in a studio.  I think this is the better option as being in your own home can be very distracting, especially if there are family members around.

The first thing I would do is ask friends and/or family who live near you if they know of a teacher.  Word of mouth is the best reference and I find that the majority of my piano students find me this way.  Friends and family who have children are more likely to know of and have experience of a teacher in the area.

Secondly, find your nearest music shop and see if they keep a list of teachers.  Big music shops such as Bonners are a great resource while smaller piano sellers and even piano tuners often have a fistful of business cards from piano teachers and have favourites they recommend.  You might find your teacher and your piano through the same person.

Another thing to do is look in the local Friday Ad or local newspaper for a piano teacher.  In Sussex there is a small magazine called “Fun File” which goes in every child’s backpack several times a year.  It’s full of resources for pretty much anything, and that’s where I advertise.  If your area has something like this and you can get hold of a copy, you might find a teacher there.

You can also look on “First Tutors”.  This shows you a lot of information about each teacher, including their qualifications, when and where they teach and how much they charge.  However, it does entail a small fee if you decide to connect with one of the teachers.

One great resource for everything piano is piano-tuners.org website, on which you can search for a piano teacher, a piano tuner, and learn lots about the piano in general.  They show pianos for sale (higher end, mostly) and pianos for rent and have information about piano removals. There is also a very comprehensive forum which covers virtually every aspect of piano playing and buying etc.

Once you have a few names, make an appointment with two or even three of them.  When you are shopping for a teacher, you want to go for one lesson with them  and see which one of them you come out of with a spring in your step – excited and raring to go!

There are teachers who teach via Skype.  I don’t have personal experience of this, so I can’t really comment on its effectiveness.  I would think this would be a good option if you live way out in the sticks or are travelling a lot.

Keep in mind that the teacher with the most qualifications isn’t necessarily going to be the most inspiring for you.  The personal rapport you feel with your teacher is far more important.  You should feel relaxed and engaged during the lesson, rather than nervous and wishing the lesson would end!  You should feel uplifted and excited to go home and build on what you’ve just learnt.

 

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