Piano instruction for adults
May 3, 2021 6:28 AM   Subscribe

I'd like to restart piano lessons (after a break of 30 years), either in person (in a COVID responsible way), or online. Can you advise about how best to select a adult piano teacher, based on some of the details inside?

I have a number of options--"rock camp" places more geared to kids, the music department of the local private school, private piano teachers, etc. I'd like to both revisit the foundations of technique, but also get real instruction in music theory--though at the end of the day, I'm more interested in pop/rock/electronic music and recording (though I think the theory instruction might possibly be better with a more classically-oriented instructor). I'm in the Boston area, so I expect there may be many Emerson-trained musicians of all stripes.

If you are a piano instructor, or are an adult piano student who has undertaken a similar search, how do you recommend finding the right fit? Alternatively, given the options for web-based instruction, how would you do this search when my options for instruction are ostensibly global? Is in person (with COVID precautions) better or would you prioritize instructions with a "better" teacher online?

posted by Admiral Haddock to Education (3 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
I gather from my fabulous piano teacher that, unsurprisingly, working with adult students is really different from working with kids, so my suggestion is to screen for teachers with adult students, ideally adult students with a somewhat similar profile to your own. My teacher has a really great group of adult students which is nice because he is able to offer a separate theory class and he has a regular “playing class” where we meet up (virtually) and play for each other.
Finally, it seems like you have some pretty specific goals and you should use them to screen teachers. I also had specific goals when I started lessons a few years ago and I think it helped me to be specific and upfront with potential teachers. Some teachers really thrive on students with different goals, while others seemed pretty set in their approach and wanted students who would just go through their program.
posted by ElizaMain at 8:01 AM on May 3, 2021 [1 favorite]

I did this recently after a similar-length break and several months of fruitlessly trying to teach myself to play a Bach invention. I ended up going with group zoom adult piano lessons at the Old Town School of Folk Music because the schedule was convenient for me, I'm a member of the organization, and there was a group class starting that was roughly at my level. OTSFM uses the Alfred piano books which are not my favorite and not the best for theory, so if you decide to go the group class route, I recommend someone who is using the Faber series. That said, OTSFM is very pop/rock/recording-oriented and they seem likely to continue with the zoom classes at least through the summer.
posted by All hands bury the dead at 11:17 AM on May 3, 2021

Is there any way you have someone in your broader local social network who can talk to you about their experience with a teacher? It has been my experience (with my kids, for example) that the best way to find someone good is through word of mouth.
posted by umbú at 8:57 AM on May 4, 2021

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