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How to Start Taking Piano Lessons
A little about me...
I'm a concert pianist and composer who's been teaching for over ten years. Now I'm starting my own online business teaching lessons at Lesson Unlocked in an effort to make lessons more affordable and obtainable.
Where to Begin?
There are so many musicians out there, almost all of which teach, it can be pretty daunting to find the right teacher for you or your child. Before you even start thinking about signing up with anyone, consider what your criteria are.
Are you interested in piano on its own or as a stepping stone into the world of music?
Piano is the universal instrument. No matter whether you're looking to be a professional guitar shredder, virtuoso concert pianist, or just getting ready for marching band season at your high school, learning piano will give you a fundamental understanding of music in the easiest way. The layout makes it easy to understand concepts and techniques that translate over to every instrument (even the triangle!).
However, what you're ultimate goals are will help determine what kind of classes you should be looking into. If it's just a hobby or something you've got to do for the time being, then pretty much anyone will do. If you're even sort of serious about music, search for people who are more professional, both in their ability to play the instrument and their professionalism. Usually free listing sites like CraigsList are the last place you want to look. Try to steer toward sites like Angie's List where the teachers are susceptible to criticism. The ones who thrive in this type of environment are definitely worth looking into.
What's your budget?
Keep in mind the cost of the instrument that you're taking up. As every single teacher will tell you, you're going to need to be able to practice every day.. As a teacher myself of 10 years, I've run into way too many students that have done everything possible to avoid even picking up a $100 keyboard at WalMart. Granted that's not the best instrument, but at least it's something that works. If you want to get something a little nicer, $500-1,000 is a pretty average range. Real acoustic pianos usually start around $2,000-3,000 and can go up as far as you can imagine. (Check out this article for more info on picking a good starter keyboard.)
The next thing to consider is how much lessons cost. Now keep in mind that professional musicians have dedicated their entire lives to perfecting their craft. If you've studied a particular subject for 4-8 hours a day for most of your life, how much would you charge to tell someone everything you know for half an hour a week?
Private one-on-one lessons are typically held for half an hour a week, every week at the same time. there are two main factors that go into what a teacher will charge for private lessons. Their own skill level and experience teaching and the venue where the lessons are held. The most inexpensive lessons are held at the teacher's house because they don't have to drie anywhere or pay any other fees to teach. The most expensive are the lessons held at the student's house. If a teacher does this, then keep in mind they're not just factoring the cost to drive to your house. Sometimes in order to create a fuller schedule or accomodate students' schedules, the teacher has to have multiple students in a row that live quite a ways away from each other, driving 30-60 minutes between lessons. (I know this because I did this for 4 years.)
In the middle we have lessons that are held at a music store or studio. These are good for teachers because they can hold several hours of lessons in a row without spending any extra time driving anywhere. But the store takes a cut as well. They call this "room rent." Basically when signing up to teach at a store, the teacher agrees to pay a certain amount per lesson, somewhere between $5 and $10. Stores create a good system though, because the teacher gets what they want, and family who takes child students to the lessons always have someplace nice to sit, read a magazine, and grab some coffee.
Group or class lessons are the same deal but an hour each. They also tend to cost a little less, but keep in mind that since there are usually 4-5 people in a class at a time, so you're only getting 10-15 minutes of the teacher's time.
Online lessons are somewhat less predictable because they can be held at almost any time and there are no extra costs. There may be some headaches involved just from setting up camera and microphone equipment and setting up the software, but if you can figure it out, go for it.
Lesson Types and Costs
One-on-one for 30 minutes a week
In a class with 4-5 people for 60 minutes a week
Determined by the teacher
$15-25 per lesson
$12-20 per lessons
$10-20 per lesson
Finding a Teacher
As I said earlier, there are tons of teachers out there so the challenge is not in finding one, but finding the right one.
- Check with friends and family to see if anyone has a teacher that they recommend. You just can't beat word of mouth.
- Call or visit local music stores. They often have teachers on staff that teach out of the store. Stores are extremely careful about who they hire to teach because a lot of times students are small children.
- Check reputable online resources like Angie's List, Yellow Pages, and Yelp. Reviews are a very good thing.
- Sign up impulsively with a teacher that put a flyer in a gas station or a supermarket. Often these teachers have lower rates and teach out of their homes, which can sometimes be a good deal, but you never really know who you're getting. Do your research!
- Rely solely on websites that let anyone post an ad without either paying or being subject to reviews. If a teacher is paying for an ad, that means they're probably already doing good business. If they're subject to reviews, then they have confidence in their abilities and professionalism.
Have you taken piano lessons?
What kind of lessons did you have?
© 2014 orandze