by Jenny Leigh Hodgins
WHERE TO LOOK
As a piano teacher for 25+ years, I’ve looked at this search from the opposite direction of marketing my studio to attract able piano students. So when someone asks me how to find a good piano teacher, I know the places to look. (Also important: what keyboard do I need for piano lessons?)
SEARCH BASED ON YOUR GOAL
There are things to consider when narrowing the search for a good piano teacher, such as your goals and the characteristics of a teacher that put you at ease or motivate you best. For those looking for a grandiose career as a concert pianist, consider a move to a city well-known for accessibility to a professional music career track such as NY, LA or Nashville. Alternately, you may find a quality piano teacher through your local university's fine arts department.
For those interested primarily in the merits of music study and/or uninterested or unable to live near a music industry hub, try your local university’s music department. Typically, the music department will have a list of graduate students available for teaching as well as local piano teachers. Look especially for graduate level students who are studying piano pedagogy in particular.
Another option is an online search for reputable sources. The Music Teachers National Association’s searchable online database of teachers by state has earned the association’s National Certified Teachers of Music credential (NCTM). Teacher members of The National Piano Guild aim toward non-competitive goal-setting and awards. Teachers involved in national music organizations such as these tend to be motivated at a higher level toward student success.
Another good piano teacher resource for young children in particular is MusikGarten. The MusikGarten teaching method is holistic, kinesthetic, and frankly, fun for children ages 5 to 9. Similar to Suzuki method, MusikGarten’s approach is to begin learning music aurally. However, MusikGarten also incorporates movement, drumming, singing, notation-reading, in a small-group, eventually combining all these layers of foundation into piano performance. Teachers who are certified in this method tend to be excellent instructors, and teach a well-rounded musical education.
WORD OF MOUTH
There are other resources, such as church or grocery bulletin boards/newsletters, ads in local family-directed newspapers, and local music stores. But whether you have children looking to start music lessons for the first time, to continue lessons started, or for adults wanting to learn the instrument, the best way to find a quality piano teacher is the old fashioned way; word of mouth.
One of the best ways to find a quality piano teacher is through hearing and seeing an educator’s efforts with your own eyes and ears! Find someone who plays piano well. Ask for their teacher’s contact info. If you don’t know anyone who plays piano, watch local newspapers or church announcements for local piano recitals or concerts and attend (Holiday season is a great time for this!). Check local university, music school and music store websites for upcoming events.
COMPASSION IS QUALITY
Teachers who are dedicated enough to host recitals are usually quite capable, and care enough about students to enable regular progress in pIano study. Pay attention to each student’s finger dexterity, posture, reading, memorization, hand position (Watch out for tension!), and especially confidence and poise. The proof is in the pudding!
Check with retirement center activity directors for a list of teachers who’ve brought student piano recitals to the facility. That is a great way to find a quality piano teacher because someone who cares enough about students to host performance opportunities is a teacher who works toward results. Going the extra mile to incorporate community service by bringing music performances to retirement home residents shows a compassionate, contributive quality teacher.
In summary, you’ll find a good piano teacher through word of mouth, a local recital, an internet hunt for MusikGarten teachers, National Certified Music Teachers, the National Piano Guild, a local university, music school or, music store.
Next Steps: Having found a teacher, you’ll need to make your own goals for piano study clear.
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In my PIANO blogs, you'll find ways to overcome boredom, get past musical and mental blocks, explore the creative process with piano, and improve musical progress through piano teacher recommended best practices and effective piano practice tips.