How to Find a Piano Teacher

The first step in finding a piano teacher is to decide what you want your child to get out of music lessons. Some parents consider music to be an essential part of education, like reading or math. Other parents want to help their child find an interest to enjoy, and may try out music lessons for a while but are willing to move on to something else if the child doesn’t seem to like it. There are parents who want their child to have the potential of becoming a concert pianist, while others want their child to study piano as a foundation before moving on to other instruments. Once parents have decided on their goals for their piano student, the next step is to find a teacher that can help the student achieve those goals.



As much as possible, parents should get the best piano teacher they can from the beginning. This doesn’t necessarily mean the most expensive piano teacher around. Whether a piano teacher has an advanced degree in music or is just a neighbor down the street who teaches a few lessons after school, parents should make sure that the teacher is someone who will:

•  show respect for their child

•  challenge their child to improve and develop as a musician

•  inspire an enduring love of music

It is a common mistake for parents to think that there’s nothing wrong with starting with a mediocre teacher and then moving on to a better teacher if their child continues to show interest. In the first year of studying piano, students lay a foundation that will last throughout their music studies. When a student with a mediocre teacher transfers to a better teacher it can take years for that student to get out of bad habits.



It’s a good idea to shop around a while before deciding on a piano teacher for your child. If you live in the United States, one place to start is the Music Teachers National Association. On the MTNA website, you can see a list of certified piano teachers in your state. You can also ask for advice from the music teachers at your local schools. They will know which students are the best piano players, and can probably tell you who the best private instructors are. You can also find directories of piano teachers in phone books or on the internet. If you want to get recommendations, you can ask friends and neighbors, or even call up piano teachers who live just outside your area and ask if they know any good teachers who live close to you.



When choosing a piano teacher for your child it is important to remember that you are hiring someone that may have a huge impact on your child’s life, as it is not unusual for a child to stay with a piano teacher for five to ten years. Before beginning piano lessons, it is best to meet the teacher face to face and have an interview. Treat it like a job interview. Here are some suggestions for questions you might ask:

1.  What are your practice expectations for beginners? For more advanced students?

2.  How many students do you currently teach? What ages?

3.  What kind of events outside of lessons do your students participate in, such as recitals, competitions, and theory examinations? Are these events optional or required?

4.  What is your level of music education and what music teaching experience do you have?

5.  Do you belong to any professional organizations?

6.  What method do you use for teaching beginners?

7.  Describe your teaching approach or philosophy as compared to other teachers.

Where possible, look for a piano teacher who cares enough about teaching to belong to a professional organization. The best teachers will almost certainly have a degree in music and be capable themselves of performing at a high level of skill. Students learn a lot by imitation, and the teacher should be able to demonstrate good playing, posture, expression, and musical nuance.



Besides getting to know potential piano teachers by talking with them, it is also important to watch teachers in action. Some teachers may allow you to observe a lesson with one of their current students. If that is not possible, ask for a one-time lesson for your child before you make a long-term commitment. Here are some things to watch for when observing a piano teacher:

1.  Does the teacher show respect for the child? Does the teacher make eye contact, call the child by name, and show interest and concern? A child should feel respected and valued by their teacher.

2.  Is the lesson engaging? Does the student respond with interest? Is there motivation, curiosity, and a love of music involved? It takes a certain amount of charisma, leadership, and likeability for a teacher to inspire a student. Make sure it’s there.

3.  Does the teacher challenge the student? Does the teacher pay attention to detail and correct the student as needed? A good teacher will hold a child to a high standard. All children are capable of excellence, they only need a teacher who will ask for it.



This is not a quick and easy approach, but it is worth it! Put in the effort to find a teacher who will respect, challenge, and inspire a life-long love of music-making in your child.


Happy playing,

Joseph Hoffman


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8 Responses to How to Find a Piano Teacher

  1. I plan to be their teacher. We plan to be living in the same house. I would like the complete package for unit 1.

  2. This is how I will choose my teacher for my kids in the future. Currently I am also a piano teacher but somehow, I think my kids would also need to learn from someone else. So Mr. Hoffman, what do you think about having a multiple teacher at the same time for a kid?

    • I’m not sure what you mean by having multiple teachers, but I’ll do my best to answer: I’ve communicated with several piano teachers who also have their students working through my lessons on their own at home as part of their outside practice. Some are using the Hoffman Method to teach piano, so their students are working straight through the lessons; others assign particular lessons when they feel that it will support the theory or technique they are currently teaching. If you are talking about multiple live teachers, there are some situations that may call for it (team teachers instructing a group class or another teacher at the same studio substituting when the regular teacher takes a significant leave), but in general I wouldn’t recommend it. The rapport between teacher and student is part of the education process and kids are generally more comfortable with regularity and familiar faces. I hope that helps! – Mr. Hoffman

  3. I very much like the Hoffman method and wish I’d had something similar when I was a child learning piano.

    Do you offer support materials so that local teachers can use your method? I think my daughter would benefit from a live teacher, but most of the ones I’ve talked to in my area don’t incorporate the singing and ear the way Mr. Hoffman does.

  4. This is a great start for me and my little brother elijah, also with my older sister Shane. We just started the lesson and it’s really helpful and easy to follow. Thank you very much.

  5. I’ve been working at these lessons for a couple weeks now, and I’m just about done with them. I’m enjoying these very much, even though I already had a decent idea how music works. I can see that the last ten lessons are going to take at least as long as the first 30-40 :) but I’m wondering what to do after that! Will you be putting up more lessons, or do you think I really need to just find a teacher in my area?

    • Horray! “Unit 4 is due to come out on May 31″! My son must be very excited about this great news! We have been almost desperate for Unit 4! We will stick to Mr. Hoffman’s lessons as long as they are available!
      We greatly appreciate your efforts while being so busy!

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