Guide to finding a piano teacher
If you’re looking for a piano teacher for your child, want to improve your own piano skills, or have decided today’s the day to learn a new skill - you’re in the right place!
At Encore Musicians, we have the largest selection of musicians and teachers across the UK and are here to talk you through the important questions and considerations to make when finding the right teacher for you.
Keep reading to find out when and where you can have private piano lessons, how to find the teacher that best suits your needs and the key credentials to look out for.
Finding the right teacher can be completely transformational, so let us help find you the perfect match.
Starting your search
As with any new activity or hobby, you’re always most likely to succeed if the location of your lessons are convenient for you. WIth this in mind, we suggest looking for teachers local to your home area, school or work.
Our music teachers generally have a radius they are happy to travel within to teach their piano students, but especially with piano teachers where the instrument is such a key part of the lesson, it’s common for them to teach from their own home or studio.
If you are already of a high level, or have specialist needs (for example advanced jazz piano) another option for you could be skype lessons. The wonderful thing about skype lessons is that you can do them from anywhere, as long as you have a piano on your side of the call of course!
In person lessons are generally advisable, not least because you will build a rapport with the teacher, but also because it’s easiest to tell in person how that person’s technique is progressing and to show them fingerings and other techniques on the piano where they can clearly see them.
Learning online vs. in person
With today’s technology as brilliant and connected as it is, an option for learning the piano (particularly as an adult) is by using videos or tutorials online. In our experience this can be a wonderful way to begin to play some basic notes on the piano, but without incredible levels of motivation, practice and researching, it will be very difficult to get to a high level and read music in the correct way.
The most important thing about having a teacher is that you have dedicated time together where you get immediate feedback on your playing. If you don’t understand something, the teacher can explain it in another way, if you can’t do something, the teacher can demonstrate, and overall the journey of learning will be completely tailored to your pace and needs.
Piano technique is really important to ensure you aren’t straining anything and are producing the best sound with the least physical effort - and this is always best taught in person.
We are likely to have many piano teachers near you, but if your availability doesn’t line up, then that isn’t much use to you!
Many of our teachers will have their lessons in the early evening to fit after their student’s work and school days, but if you do have availability during the day that can be very helpful for our teachers. Some peripatetic teachers may have slots when they are available at your student’s school which can also be a fantastic option in a lunch break for example.
Due to the need of the instrument, lessons in a school music room are often very convenient for students and teachers where possible.
We always recommend being up front about the timings and frequency you’re looking for lessons at the beginning of the journey to avoid disappointment later on if your diaries don’t align.
Given the nature of the instrument you’d be learning, facilities are an important consideration when arranging your music lessons. If teaching from home, the teacher will have a piano for you to learn on and if you plan to have the lessons in your own house, you’ll need to be equipped with a minimum of a high quality keyboard, or ideally a full piano. If you’re lucky, your teacher may have a grand piano available, but don’t worry playing on an upright piano is just as good when you are learning the instrument.
Another consideration is that between lessons, you will want to play the piano in order that your lessons are productive and you make good progress between sessions. So it’s worth investing in an instrument, or find a space nearby where you’ll be able to practice on an instrument.
- Local school
- Local music service
- Pop singing teachers
- Rehearsal rooms at music colleges
- Friend or family’s pianos
At Encore, we’ve surveyed hundreds of musicians to ensure our prices are competitive and fair. On average, teachers in the UK charge just above £30 per hour, although some instruments generally cost a little more, such as the harp.
- Years of experience teaching
- Credentials of the teacher
- Location of the teacher
In our research, we found that the students who stayed with their teachers the longest, tended to be with teachers who had above average prices. So it’s often worth a few extra pennies to get a fantastic teacher you’ll be with for a long time.
To be sure you’re choosing a teacher worth the price, reach on to learn more about the different credentials piano teachers are likely to have.
You will find that most teachers you come across have studied music from a young age. There are various training levels for teachers in the UK and its likely that your teacher will have a music degree, although this isn’t essential.
In fact, you may choose a teacher without a degree, but who has been successfully teaching for a number of years as this experience can’t be taught!
Formal qualifications in the UK begin with graded exams (which you may like to take yourself) going from grade 1-8. The examination boards are usually ABRSM or Trinity College London.
Following these grades, musicians are likely to either pursue a degree, or diploma in performance or teaching:
ATCL (associate): equivalent to one year of an undergraduate degree
LTCL (licentiate): equivalent to the final year of an undergraduate degree
FTCL (fellowship): equivalent to a postgraduate course or conservatoire degree
- Music college / conservatoire
- University (BMus or similar)
Your piano teacher is likely to be classically trained, but if you are looking to learn a different style such as jazz, you may find different credentials available and more of a focus on performance, as jazz is such a performance based and often improvised live skill.
When deciding which teacher is right for you, you will need to decide what is more important to you.
For example, if you would like to learn about the history and context of pieces as you learn, or are hoping to pursue music as a career, you may prefer a teacher with a music degree due to the weighting on academic music as part of those studies.
If you’d particularly like to understand music theory as you progress, then look out for somebody who has taken grade 8 music theory qualifications or who has an equivalent degree.
If you are new to the instrument and would like somebody who is sensitive to the needs of a new learner, then somebody with lots of experience teaching may be your first choice.
What better way to understand somebody’s teaching style than to read about other student’s recommendations and reviews. On Encore you will have access to as many reviews from former and current students so that you can get a sense of how their personality may match with yours and understand what makes them a great teacher!
At Encore we have measures in place to ensure that your teacher is very professional and safe for you to meet and have lessons with. We ensure their testimonials are verified, check their credentials, speak with each teacher on our site before allowing them to go out for work and most importantly, we list which teachers are DBS checked which is important for childrens piano lessons.
The DBS check produces an independent safeguarding certificate which ensures that unsuitable people aren’t working with vulnerable groups including children. Look out for the DBS certificate badge on Encore for complete peace of mind.
The DBC Certificate is a combination of the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA) and the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB).
Choosing the right teacher
There are some considerations you may like to make when finding a teacher for your piano lessons.
When surveying adults in particular, we found that many students enjoyed learning from somebody of a similar age to them which you may like to factor in.
Secondly, some teachers will specialise, or have a lot of experience in teaching children. When finding a teacher for your child, this experience is really valuable as these are some of the most formative years of their learning.
Look out for the levels that teachers are happy to teach. Some teachers may specialise in beginners or intermediate up to grade 5, whereas others are competent to teach up to grade 8. For more advanced students, look out for teachers who work regularly with professional pianists or at conservatoire level to be sure you have somebody to significantly advance your technique and sound.
You may like to specialise in a particular style of playing, and while nearly all piano teachers can cover classical piano, not all teachers will feel comfortable covering other styles such as jazz. If learning to play a specific style is important to you - do check this with your teacher first.
When deciding on your teacher, it’s important to consider what your personal goals are. Some questions you may want to ask yourself include:
Would I like to work towards examinations?
Would I like to work towards a performance opportunity?
What styles of music or pieces do I want to master?
Will I dedicate time to practice, or play less regularly?
It is worth discussing these questions with your prospective teacher to be sure you have the same approach and understanding for your lessons. The teacher can focus on your personal goals and tailor the lessons to match your needs.
Arranging your first lesson
The easiest way to find a fantastic piano teacher near you is to enquiry with us at Encore Musicians. We have the biggest supply of musicians across the country and we are musicians ourselves, so we’re best placed to find a well suited teacher perfectly matched to your needs.