It is not too difficult to create a generic profile of the piano teacher one should ideally look for as he/ she embarks into their first forays into the world of music. Finding a good piano teacher for kids can be relatively easier than finding an ideal piano instructor for adults.

Piano teachers are used to children who need maximum supervision with a dose of music theory. However, adults need little supervision, are self-motivated, capable of practicing independently, and are able to understand more complex issues in harmonics and music theory.

We have combined the best of piano pedagogy and bring to you a list of characteristics that make for a great piano teacher. Remember, learning the piano is a great first step to becoming a true musician. The piano can be an accompaniment to almost any musical instrument - clarinet, saxophone, violin, harpsichord, mandolin, etc. Also, read all about how to decide on the cost of a piano lesson in India, here.

How much do private piano tutors cost?
Your piano tutor will play a huge role in your musical development. (Source: MichaelGaida)

Private Piano Tutors: What You Should Look For

In order to learn piano from a music teacher with good personality traits and with specific music teaching methods, you will need to put on some filters and follow a thorough screening process. Not everyone can be a good piano tutor.

To start off your search, try to create a list of piano teachers in your locality or the general area in which you are willing to travel for piano lessons. The simplest way to create a shortlist of prospective teaching candidates is to contact each one from your original list of music teachers.

If the teacher does not get back to your request within a reasonable amount of time or he/ she refuses a personal interview, or even asks for a fee for the demo lesson, simply cross them off your list.

Moving on to the interview process of the final shortlisted candidates, apart from asking the obvious about how they teach (group music lessons, private music lessons or music lessons in a studio), duration of the course, particular genres they may specialize in and so on, use these additional personality assessment filters to make your final decision.

  • Motivation to teach you how to play the piano, not bore you.
  • Work ethics to be professional as well as approachable at the same time.
  • Honesty matters so that your teacher can tell you where you are going wrong with your notes and keys.
  • Communication is key in any student-teacher relationship.
  • Being organized in their lesson plans and approach to teaching music.
Can you learn piano from student tutors?
When it comes to learning the basics, students can make great tutors. (Source: StockSnap)
Additionally, the following markers are a great indicator of the quality of a music/ piano tutor. Your ideal piano instructor should have sound knowledge of:
  • Music theory and harmony
  • Music teaching techniques like the study if Hanon
  • Sight-reading
  • Piano Chords
  • Arranging songs and improvisation.

Pro Tip: Even if your teacher is missing one of these traits, cross them off your list. You just cannot do without any of the five key traits outlined above. You will realize this when you have found your best teacher and see the difference in the long run!

Recognizable Traits of an Outstanding Piano Teacher

Here are some easy identifiers of an exceptional music teacher who can inspire and guide.

Approachable and Accountable

This is probably the first desirable trait we look for in any teacher, no matter their vocation. A teacher has a very special role to play in a student's life. Whether you have weekly piano classes or online video lessons in music, the time spent on it should be encouraging, inspiring, challenging and enjoyable. A good piano teacher should be able to balance all these into one person!

Here is what you can expect from your first piano lesson.

Music teachers should also be willing to learn from other teachers and also their students and strive for continuous improvement in their work. This prevents stagnation from setting into their teaching and their art. In fact, it makes them appreciate the learning struggles of their students more.

Qualification and Experience

The possession of a learning certificate or a degree in music does not guarantee teaching qualities. There needs to be a balance between qualification and experience. A qualification certifies you as the master of a particular skill. However, experience tends to plug the many holes that the examination process does not cover.

Flexible in Meeting Pupils’/ Parents’ Learning Needs

A teacher is as good as their students. And every student has some unique learning goals. Added to that is the expectations of the parents of students who are kids.

While some parents want a definite path to success for their wards through exams, their are many who prefer a more laidback approach to learning. And, the majority want something that lies in between these two.

But a teacher should be able to guide a pupil through exams if needed down the track. A teacher who is willing to guide your child through the process will be having their own test as your child goes for an exam. It is a chance for both students and teachers to know from someone outside that they are covering what needs to be covered.

Where can you find piano tutors?
Some teachers find it hard to leave the music behind. (Source: Pexels)

Versatile in Music Styles

A teacher's flexibility also results from his/ her willingness to learn different styles of teaching music. For example, a solid reading approach is a good start but with time, a teacher might also want to build on those skills and experiment a bit more.

The same applies to students who want to learn and improve on what they already know. The question is whether the teacher is willing to adapt and learn or whether he/ she is willing to let the student go and learn piano under a different teacher.

How does one look for a great piano teacher? Read our guide here.

No Undue Focus on Their Own Abilities

A good piano teacher, despite being aware of their own sets of skills and immense talent, needs to let go of their ego and focus entirely on making their students the best in the art of playing the piano. If your teacher loves performing so much that they keep wanting to show you what to do, without giving ample time to try it yourself, then they become a hindrance rather than an encouragement for students. In the limited lesson time, it is important that the student gets the chance to show what they have learned and practiced without the teacher showing off!

Balancing Between Instructing and Unnecessary Talking

While we stress on developing a personal connection with the student, it is equally important for the teacher to work together with the student on what is the primary objective of such a connection - teaching the art of playing the piano. A good teacher will be focused on the aims of the lesson and the pupil’s practical needs while being aware of the time restrictions of the lessons. Excessive talking should be completely avoided to achieve this!

Can you teach yourself to play the piano?
In some cases, you can teach yourself to play the piano. (Source: Pexels)

The Final Steps in Recognizing a Good Piano Teacher

A truly professional piano tutor should be able to teach you the technicalities of the piano, as an instrument as well as the technicalities of sound, while all the time supporting the student in every way possible on their musical journey. An exceptional piano teacher always works in the background, reveling in the accomplishments of their students on stage.

Decide on the Musical Instrument: Keyboard or Piano

This is your decision to make! Decide whether you want to learn using a large piano or want to press a key on the modern electronic keyboard. Despite being almost the same, there are differences in the playing techniques of both. A truly passionate music teacher would be able to guide you on making this important choice.

Here is all you need to know about taking piano courses in India.

Don't Forget to Ask for a Demo Lesson

This is the last step in your screening process. Once you have shortlisted two or three prospective candidates for the post of your piano teacher, ask for a demo lesson. This would help you check out their teaching technique. This not only ensures the student-teacher compatibility but also gives you a fair idea about the qualifications of the teacher. You will also ideally develop a good idea of your teacher's temperament.

Make your choice

A qualified and experienced tutor not only helps you realize your potential in music but also helps you harness it. Kids, adults, amateur musicians – everyone needs a tutor. Whether you take private lessons, group lessons or sign up at a music school, whether you want to learn classical or jazz piano, register now and get ready to become the next Bach, Liszt, Beethoven, Schubert, or even U2, Korn, and Nightwish!

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Shreyanjana is an archaeologist who ironically finds the written word to be the most powerful means of storytelling. A travel buff and a photography enthusiast, she has been writing and sharing stories of all sorts ever since she can remember.