Why Private Piano Lessons

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Why Private lessons? While it’s true that a wealth of information for self-study is available through online lessons, software, methods books, CDs, and DVDs; information is only a part of learning to play piano. Correct application of the information is essential to success. A great teacher can help people overcome even the most confusing landscape.


No gift can bring more joy to a person’s life than the gift of music. Whether you’re an adult who has always had a dream of learning to play piano, or a parent interested in getting your child started on their musical journey, piano lessons with the right teacher can set the stage for a lifetime of enjoyment.
The benefits of working with a private music teacher are clear: you get one-on-one guidance from a professional, a customized lesson plan, and someone to hold you accountable. And as most musicians will tell you, the investment you make in your training is completely worth it when you start seeing improvements.

Lessons with a live teacher add benefits not possible through a do-it-yourself approach. Nothing is going to replace a live teacher, sitting next to you! There are many instances where online tutorials of a piece are quite useful and where a student can enhance the learning they’ve received through individual lessons, but there is no replacement for someone who can react, correct and see first hand the students performance and expand upon their learning.

  • I find the biggest mistake parents make with beginning lessons is not going to a professional teacher at the very onset of lessons.  They have a neighbor who can play and think that ‘we’ll see if she/he likes it first’.”
  •  “Not only does that person not know what will be important later on, but they don’t have the experience to try another approach if that student doesn’t ‘get it’ with the first explanation. For example, some students are naturally good (music notation) readers.  Others cannot seem to make the connection until much later.”

“A professional teacher can assess the student’s needs and adapt their teaching style to match.  Just because someone can play an instrument, it doesn’t follow that they can teach that information to someone else. Everyone learns differently, and a “one size fits all” philosophy of teaching piano, simply isn’t a good fit for most.

  • Private piano lessons help you over the initial hump of getting started. Typically, the first few months will determine whether you will continue or abandon your attempt to study the piano. Everything will be new to you, but an experienced teacher will understand how to move you forward through and beyond this beginning period.
  • Private piano lessons build confidence by speeding up the learning curve. You will be learning many new and complex skills all at once. It’s normal to feel awkward and disappointed with your playing in the beginning. A personal teacher can respond immediately and specifically to the needs and questions of each individual student.
  • Private piano lessons provide accountability. We always work harder when we know someone is paying attention. Learning to play the piano will require patience and perseverance over an extended period of time. Without the personal accountability that private lessons supply, most of us lack sufficient self-discipline to see this through.
  • Private piano lessons take advantage of a dedicated teacher’s experience, empathy, and knowledge. Experience is a valuable commodity in any field. Someone who has played the piano and has taught for years has learned how to practice smart and make the most of your time at the piano, how to navigate difficult passages, how to choose the best fingerings to move gracefully around the keyboard. You can benefit from such understanding in many ways.
  • Private piano lessons allow accommodation for each student’s individual personality, abilities, and physiology. A good teacher will listen and watch carefully to insure that proper technique is developed and dangerous habits avoided.
  • Private piano lessons can inspire and motivate you. The human need to create music seems to have been evident in every civilization from the beginning of time. A deep appreciation for and love of music is probably the greatest benefit a teacher can share with you. Such enthusiasm for the making of music will see you through the challenges of learning this new skill.
  • In addition, duet playing which is a valuable teaching and ear-training activity in the early years, especially, is not feasible with current online lessons.

Online lessons most definitely have their place (as stated above) but while cost effective, have some serious challenges.

Video lessons often can do a good job of “show and tell.” and in this respect, can be useful for an “intermediate” and “advanced” student. It’s always useful to watch and listen to people playing the piano beautifully. Listening to their interpretation cannot help but enhance the students involvement and understanding of the music. As a tool for this purpose, they are excellent. They are not however, any substitute for one on one lessons. “Nothing will ever replace the piano teacher. Students still need an instructor beside them to teach the traditional piano lessons and to add dynamics and emotion to their performances.” – Judy Hanley, Music Director for Frank & Camille’s Pianos.

First, they are not usually interactive (there are some exceptions to this), one being an automated teacher (believe it or not) and a master teacher in a foreign country working with very advanced pupils). They cannot tell your children if they are doing something wrong, or answer any questions, all of which are essential to the process of piano education. In addition, transmission time of the sounds, video and streaming capabilities currently present significant problems.

In instances where a town or village does not readily have access to piano instruction, involving students of all ages in piano is a marvelous concept. There will be many strides in the future towards making the technology easier, more available and more intuitive…but it is not the same as having a “guide” sitting right next to you, watching you perform and reacting “in the moment”.

Second, a DVD doesn’t know if your children practice (or if they even watch the DVDs), so it cannot hold your children accountable or check their progress. Finally, DVDs almost all rely on music notation, and have lots of explanations of the code before the children can begin to play anything interesting, just as in traditional piano lessons. These require great discipline, either with the parents, or children or both. Still, if one is highly motivated, this is an affordable way, though few excel or persist because it is a musical room without mirrors; feedback is totally absent.

Third, if they don’t understand an explanation or idea, they have no resource to ask or consult, just repeat the lesson and try and guess. These gaps are often subconscious from the video professor, they think they are speaking English or their native language, but they often introduce musical jargon without realizing it, confusing the child and perhaps even the parent. This lack of interactivity and feedback put the burden very heavily on the person watching to get perfectly the lesson.

Finally, there is no engagement on the part of your children, so they may very quickly tire of watching a teacher talk “at” them, instead of to them, and the old issue of getting children to practice tends to remain a problem. A teacher can tell if they have practiced, this now falls to the parent to check, and then to see if the practiced “correctly” can be a real problem.

The right chemistry and the quality of a personal/musical relationship with a student are paramount to the success of lessons.




pamfri114Why Private Piano Lessons