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How to Afford Piano Lessons on a Tight Budget
Piano lessons can be expensive. Many teachers will charge about $30 for a half hour lesson, which adds up to $120 a month. Music schools like Yamaha Music School will generally charge far less for group lessons but even that can cost about $75 a month and required books and CDs are expensive. Lessons can really add up if you have more than one child to teach.
To learn piano at an advanced level your child will need an experienced teacher at some point. But for the first year or two of lessons, there are a couple of low cost options. One is to hire a teenager who has been playing piano for years to teach your child. They may be willing to do the job for a fraction of the cost a professional teacher will charge.
Another option is to try self-teaching the basics at home. Piano programs aimed at children will cover the first one or two years. Even if you don't have any musical background yourself, you should easily be able to pick up the basics. You can also start with a more affordable keyboard but you would have to upgrade to a full 88 key acoustic or digital piano for more advanced training.
After your child has completed one of these courses you can inquire at local colleges to find out if any music students would be willing to give your child lessons for a lower rate. Another option is to find a piano teacher who will allow your child to do two rather than four lessons a month.
Yousician is an app or software download that provides step-by-step tutorials and instant feedback on accuracy. You need a device with a microphone to pick up the sound of your child's playing. The nice thing about Yousician is that unlike books it provides feedback. So you can know when your child has actually mastered something before they move onto the next lesson. The cost is $9.99 a month or $119.99 for a full year.
Alfred's Piano Course
You can't go wrong with the Alfred series of music books. The complete piano course "Alfred's Kid's Piano Course Complete" is for children ages 5 and up. The book is colorful with cartoon characters "a clever classical dog, one cool jazz cat, and a friendly alligator who loves the blues" that make learning fun. The course teaches notes, melodies, and how to read music. It comes with an MP3 CD, which is very important. It's very helpful to know how a song should sound when played on the piano.
My Piano by eMedia
The My Piano course is for kids ages 6 and up and it has "100+ lessons taught by former Juilliard School of Music instructor." This software has an animated keyboard and videos as well as audio to hear how a song should sound. The animated keyboard shows kids where to put their fingers when they play. The course covers the basics, such as notes, rhythm, chords, and reading music. This software has another great feature. It can be plugged into keyboards to provide interactive feedback.
"When used with a MIDI keyboard, kids get instant feedback on notes and rhythms they played wrong and find out what they should have played instead. There's also an overall score to show them how well they did on the song."
Step by Step Piano Course
The Step by Step Piano Course by Hal Leonard is a series of inexpensive piano teaching books. The books can be used with kids ages 5 and up. You can either buy the books alone or buy books that come with a CD. It's always helpful to have a CD, so your child can listen to how a song should sound. One criticism of these books is that they were written in the 1950s and are a bit dated. But the books are praised for their step-by-step approach, short pieces, and gradual increase in difficulty level.
PIANIMALS is a first year course that teaches children using finger numbers rather than note reading. This is fine for younger children. My kids do the Yamaha Music School group program and the Yamaha method doesn't put much emphasis on note reading for the first two years for their 4-6 year old classes. They focus more on ear training and use finger numbering to help kids find the correct keys to play. However, Yamaha does teaching note reading from the beginning in their 6-8 year old program. You can visit the PIANIMALS website to buy the books.