Piano time! You’re ready to tickle those ivories. Donna Stoering in Alameda, California, Emir Gamsızoğlu of Classical for All in New York City, and Tony Tixier also in New York, New York are three top-rated piano instructors on Thumbtack who’ll key you into finding the perfect piano teacher.
What are some types of piano lessons that are available?
Tony is an award-winning pianist from Paris, France who lives and teaches classical piano, jazz piano, composition and harmony classes (in both French and English) in NYC.
Emir is a concert pianist who performs classical music and teaches classical music.
Donna has a unique approach to piano pedagogy, technique, and phrasing based on the anatomy of the human body. She sees piano as an art form that involves perseverance, discipline, having the heart of a servant, attention to detail, teamwork, and joy. She draws on her love of the NBA Golden State Warriors to inform her piano teaching as well.
Who takes piano lessons?
For Donna there is a huge mix. She travels globally to coach other piano teachers in the pedagogy approach and anatomical-based techniques she specializes in.
Apart from other instructors, it runs the gamut. Currently she teaches a 7-year old prodigy; a hospital executive who plays piano in the hospital lobby during her breaks to help calm the families; a dyslexic entrepreneur whose father was a pianist but wouldn’t let the kids touch his piano so she is catching up now; a church pianist; young adults who want to accompany themselves on piano while they sing their own songs in performances; 5-year-old twins who are beginners; and several professional pianists (artist-performers). Count yourself in the list! What are your reasons for learning?
What is the most common request for musical style?
Classical, jazz, pop, and variety are the most common requests that Tony receives. His students have a wide range of goals from beginners wanting to learn the basics to professional performers honing their skills. Some specific requests include learning how to improvise, how to play a specific tune, or how to compose their own music. Alternately, many students want to master the music of a particular composer, so they may focus on that.
Is there anything a student needs before starting piano lessons?
All three instructors agree, you need a keyboard or piano at home before starting lessons. It’s crucial to practice, so that is your first step.
What can someone expect at their first lesson?
The instructor will explain their specific style of teaching so the student can understand their approach clearly, says Emir. If they are a beginner they may start out immediately with learning the basics of hand positioning and the keyboard. For more advanced students, expect to play in order to demonstrate level of proficiency so a plan for learning can be created. Communicate your goals!
How important is practicing between lessons?
Vital. All three teachers say progress without practice is impossible (unless you come up with some magical ‘learn while you sleep’ technique). Tony likens it to learning a foreign language, the more you practice, the better you get.
What do piano lesson costs?
Donna’s lessons range from $90 – $100 per hour, $50 per half hour.
Tony lessons are $40 per half hour and $65 per hour, unless he travels to another location, which adds an additional $10. The rates are higher if they are not in the context of 4 lessons per month.
Emir points out there is a wide range from one teacher to another, so be sure to inquire. Some teachers who are more specialized may have higher rates than someone who focuses on beginners.
What does it take to become a good piano player?
Patience is key for a good piano player. Tony recommends diligence, humility, a great willingness to work, and the love of music. Being a good pianist is above all wanting to learn and to share music with others, he says, as well as practicing regularly.
Donna sees her most successful students as those who have a strong personal desire, as opposed to, say, a child whose parent wishes them to succeed. They may achieve great levels of technical skill, but in her experience, a true musical heart comes from within.
What are the perks of having a piano teacher?
Today there are gadgets and websites to learn anything, says Emir. It is quite possible to learn to play piano through those sources, he shares. However, if you want to learn more than hitting the right keys and getting somewhat melodic sounds out of a piano, an instructor is pivotal. To understand the music culture deeply and enjoy piano-playing thoroughly—he believes only a musician can help achieve these goals.
Any tips on finding the perfect teacher?
Audition two or three teachers, suggests Donna. Take an initial (paid) lesson with them to determine chemistry. She shares that a positive student-teacher rapport is critical for learning music.
Any last minute musical insights for prospective piano students?
Research your potential teacher online, urges Emir. Listen to them play. Do you like their style? That’s a great start! Read reviews and make sure they teach the type of music you want to learn.
Practice, desire, and curiosity are the fundamental keys to success, says Tony. It does require will, patience, and personal investment, but it is so rewarding!