If you’ve made the decision that you want to learn piano, I would strongly recommend that you learn with the help of a good piano teacher. Sure, you can learn how to plink around from a friend, or try to pickup up some tips by watching YouTube videos, but if you’re serious about learning, hire a teacher.
I kid you not, I learned to play piano within 33 days! All i did was to listen to my piano teacher and followed her instructions properly. You just need to put some efforts and it’s definitely a slow process.
The piano seems so much simpler to learn than other instruments, because the keys are laid out in a logical manner and all one needs to do is press down on a key to sound a note. Most people realize that it’s a lot more complex than that, and to acquire any real skill playing the piano takes months or even years of dedication and practice.
Why Should You Spend the Money to Take Piano Lessons?
Below are seven good reasons:
- To develop good habits: a good teacher will help you start off right so you know what you should be doing when you practice. It’s important to know how to sit using good posture, to use the best angle for your arms and wrists, and the proper way to press down on the keys. Bad piano playing habits are hard to break, so you may as well start off right.
- To learn to read music: any good piano teacher is going to encourage you or even require that you learn how to read music. Maybe you’re thinking you just want to play some songs by playing chords from a songbook. You can do that, but most people I know who learned to play by ear at some point try to learn how to read music. It’s much harder to learn to read music if you can already play by ear.
- To study and memorize piano repertoire: a good teacher is going to take you down a path of teaching you pieces that are appropriate for your skill level and increasing the difficulty as you improve. It’s can be hard to stay motivated to learn difficult pieces and there are intricate passages that require someone to show you how to play them properly. In my opinion, studying piano this way increases your technical skills better than a haphazard approach of learning piano.
- To learn scales, arpeggios, and other technical skills: Many piano players dislike practicing scales and arpeggios because it can be tedious and boring. They’d rather play music. A teacher will help you learn the building blocks of piano literature. Acquiring the skills to play scales and arpeggios for piano will serve you well when you start learning more difficult pieces.
- To be inspired: a good teacher will inspire you when you watch them play pieces for you. You’ll see how they play so effortlessly and how great the piano can sound in the hands of an expert.
- To learn music theory: music theory can be complicated, boring, and seem to be of little value. Due to the layout of the keys, piano is the ideal instrument to learn theory on. You may not think you need to learn music theory now, but if you continue to progress in your musical studies, you might want to play in a band or write songs one day. If you do, you’ll be glad that you studied and understand music theory.
- To give you a reason to practice: you will learn discipline by spending money for lessons. If you don’t practice, you’ll be wasting your money.
What to Look for in a Piano Teacher
Can you communicate well with her? If you can’t communicate well with your teacher and feel she doesn’t listen to you, you’re probably better off finding another teacher.
Is he patient? Your teacher should be patient with you and work with you at your own pace, without acting impatient, frustrated, or like you’re slow to catch on. If a teacher is not patient you may feel intimidated and it will take the joy out of learning from him.
Can she teach you the style of music you want to learn? Not everybody wants to learn piano to play classical music. Some students want to learn the popular music they enjoy, some want to learn blues or jazz. If your teacher is not proficient and capable of teaching you the style of music you want to learn, you need to move on.
He should be passionate about helping you learn and improve. A good teacher will be passionate about helping you to improve your skills and it should be apparent early on in your lessons. As you make progress, you’ll feel the pride and sense of joy a teacher feels when his student is making progress. This will help you stay motivated and inspire you to do even better.
Cost and distance should not be the main factor in choosing a teacher. Naturally we all want to take lessons we can afford and get to easily without having to drive long distances. However, if I had a choice between a great teacher that charged me $10 more per lesson and lived 30 minutes away, vs. a mediocre teacher who charged $10 less and lived ten minutes away, I’d choose the great teacher every time. You’ll learn so much more with a great teacher and it’s worth the extra time and money.
How to Find a Piano Teacher
Unless you live in an isolated area, you should be able to find a piano teacher in any city or small town. In a smaller town, you may need to ask around and see if you can get a recommendation from someone who’s involved in school or church music programs.
You can also check Craigslist in the lessons section for piano or keyboard lessons, or do a Google search or Yelp search and see what comes up. If you’re near a community college or adult education center, they usually offer classes that are reasonable priced. I prefer private lessons as I feel I make the most progress with one-on-one lessons.
Below is a table that shows the low, high, and median cost for 200 teachers who offer instruction in Seattle:
- Low $10 per half hour
- High $60 per half hour
- Median $20 per half hour
Online Resources to Learn Piano
Taking in-person lessons with a piano teacher is the recommended way to learn to play piano. You can’t replicate the experience of having a teacher work with you in person.
If you’re looking to augment your learning with online piano lessons, or you live to far from a teacher, here are some good online piano lesson sites that will help you learn to play piano online.
Pianolessons.com: This is a site by Nate Bosch and has dozens of good free instruction. I like the way he explains things and the vertical view looking down at the keyboard helps.
The Hoffman Academy: I think the Hoffman Academy has the best beginning instruction of all the sites. There are 80 free lessons that start with the basics of how to read music, how to count time, and even some music theory. I think this is the closest you’ll get to having an in-person lesson with a teacher.
Zebra Keys: Zebra Keys is great if you learn best by reading text, looking at diagrams, and have videos explaining the concepts. There are also some helpful Guitar Hero type video lessons where you can see the notes to play “falling” on the screen to indicate which notes to play, which you may find helpful.
Lessons on the Web (YouTube): The name of this teacher is Tim, and he has lots of good lessons on YouTube. Once you get used to the odd angle of the keyboard in the videos, the lessons are instructive and well presented. I would subscribe to his channel and go through his courses. He has lots of good piano lessons for beginners.
Learning how to play the piano is a fun and rewarding experience. If you want to get started right, find a good teacher and take some lessons. You can go your own way and try to earn the badge of “self-taught musician.” But in most cases, your progress will be much slower than if you had a good piano teacher.