What factors should you consider?
There are a number of options. If you want to start at the top, you can study with a university professor. Of course, you will pay for it as well. These music teachers have spent many years gaining their knowledge. Their institutions also have considerable expenses to cover. If you want to be a concert pianist, this may well be the way to go. But honestly, it might be a little too much – especially for a beginner.
You may also find affordable music lessons at a retail music store. There are also services that send teachers to your home. Internet experts (not musicians) provide these services in exchange for a percentage of a teacher’s pay. They send you teachers whom they may have only spoken to over the phone. After all, it’s because they likely live in a different part of the country! There is typically little structure to these music lessons. The teachers often don’t have degrees in music, nor are there systems in place to measure student progress. They provide little support for teachers or students. No quality control is present.
Students in this situation often find that music lessons become “too hard” after a short period of time. They receive unbalanced training in a distracting home environment. Although you may seem to save money in the short term, there is good reason to think twice before making your decision.
Here are a few tips for a good music learning experience:
- Seek a teacher who has a degree in music. They should be a member of a teachers’ association such as the North Shore Music Teachers Association or the National Piano Guild.
- Look for a dedicated learning environment. Lessons given in your home are often ineffective because of many potential distractions (TV, pets, phones, siblings, etc.).
- Use an approved piano method that contains a balanced, orderly curriculum. (FJH has a number of good methods with fun and interesting pieces.) In these methods, the theory and technical information coordinate directly with pieces the student learns. Scales and chords in different keys should be included too.
- Make sure there are organized recitals and occasional group master classes. Check to see if there are additional performance opportunities such as National Piano Guild Auditions, Achievement in Music, and other community events.
- Research the teacher or school’s reputation as well. It’s worth the extra effort to visit the studio and meet the teachers to see if you like them.
- Most people want to gain significant rewards without spending hours every day. Students learn best through daily exposure to a balanced program. Practice time should be minutes, not hours. Practice can be done easily within 15-20 minutes time at the beginning. Much can be accomplished in a daily half hour as the student progresses. Daily, efficient practice will insure that learning music will be fun and rewarding.
- Make sure there is support and resources when students need extra help.