• What To Look For In A Piano Teacher

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    Hello! I have begun writing on a new comprehensive piano publication: NewPianist.com , This is an excerpt from the article: https://newpianist.com/what-to-look-for-in-a-piano-teacher/

    As someone who’s studied with several piano teachers and has taught students myself, I’d ask myself the following questions:

    How well do they know the fundamentals?

    There are several ways to tell. Hopefully they’ve put out recordings so you can assess their abilities. If not maybe your neighboorhood piano teacher wasn’t a serious pianist back in their day. If so you might want to look at how their previous students have done. Some teachers are more geared towards working with young children and have more in common with a babysitter than a real piano teacher. If this is case, you might want to look for a more qualified teacher.

    What are my end goals?

    If you are looking to gear up to play more serious classical works, prepare for conservatory, perform in a competition, then there’s a decent chance your neighborhood piano teacher who hasn’t done these things isn’t qualified to help you. While it’s not always the case, there are many cases of: “those who can, do. Those who cannot, teach.” 99% of the time the teacher who hasn’t done these things themselves is not the teacher you want. Likewise if you’re looking to improvise in a jazz style, a classical teacher is probably not going to help you get to your end goal but may help you with the beginning steps.

    Am i going to be motivated to practice with this teacher?

    Sometimes personality fit matters. If you have an reputable teacher but don’t get along with her/him, there’s no reason to keep going with that teacher if you know 100% that you can’t stand that person. However if the reason is they’re to strict/demanding, this is a terrible reason to leave that teacher. That’s probably a case of you needing to change.

    Possibly a good signal but not at all necessary: Did this teacher go to music conservatory/college?

    This is a big if. In other words, there are quite qualified teachers who never went to a music conservatory, and quite unimpressive teachers who did. However, there is a small case to be made for teachers who have. The kind of person willing to commit themselves to a music degree probably has a love and dedication to the music. Not only did they go through an audition process, they spent years and hours of their life deeply devoted to learning the instrument.

    Now that being said there are absolutely phenomenal pianists who never went to school. All the degree is is a possible signal but not by any means a necessity. On some levels a Julliard degree is a piece of paper that cost tens of thousands of dollars, indicating that the person may be acceptable as a teacher but a tad foolish in their finances. Tigran Hamaysan is an example of an amazing pianist without any degree. But if your neighborhood Craigslist piano teacher can’t even teach you the fundamentals, at least a teacher with a music degree has been exposed to the practice and culture of classical music enough to help you get past the beginning phases.

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