Lady Gaga, Stevie Wonder, Thelonious Monk, Frederic Chopin — no matter which musical master tickles your ivories, there's a piano instructor who can help you learn to play piano, too. Piano lessons are available for almost every age and skill level, so even if your parents didn't start you off at age four, you may still become an (adult) piano prodigy. And even if you never reach prodigy stature, the joy of learning to play the piano will be its own reward. Piano instructors can meet you wherever you are, whether you're an adult beginner who's touched a keyboard to a professional performer ready to fine-tune your already perfect sound. The ability to read music is not a prerequisite for taking lessons with most piano teachers, but your music teachers will want you to have access to a keyboard or piano so you can practice your newly learned skills between weekly lessons. To learn piano, you have to want to learn, and practicing and desire are a large part of that. It's just like learning a new language, says jazz pianist and composer Tony Tixier; the more you practice, the better you get.
Piano teachers provide instruction in all styles of music. Some may specialize in classical or jazz, but many, especially those working with beginner piano players, offer a range of styles. Popular musical styles include classical, blues, boogie-woogie, pop or jazz, and many more are available for study. If you're ready to open up your artistic side and learn a beautiful new skill, here are the factors that affect the cost of piano lessons.
Afraid of commitment? Don't worry. Many qualified teachers offer a free or reduced-rate introductory lesson that allows the teacher and student to get acquainted. The teacher can assess the student's skill level, and both the teacher and the student can decide if it's the right fit. An introductory lesson is also a great opportunity to learn if you really do want to take music lessons before you pay a semester's worth of tuition upfront. Some piano teachers may charge for this meeting, while others, such as Bill Hynes Music in Saugus, Massachusetts, may offer a free first lesson. Some topics you may discuss during or before your introductory lesson include these:
- Payment policy and availability of discounts for ongoing students
- What students should expect during each lesson
- Studio policies such as rescheduling for missed lessons
- Items students need to bring to lessons, such as a notebook
During a lesson, you are paying for the piano teacher's skill, expertise and time, so lesson length has a direct affect on cost. Generally speaking, the longer the lesson, the higher the cost. Instructors usually offer 30-minute, 45-minute, 60-minute or 90-minute lessons. Some piano instructors, such as those at MuzikAdict Piano Studio, recommend longer sessions for more serious students. For a student who is learning solely for hobby and relaxation, shorter piano lessons may be just the right fit. Here are some examples of average tiered piano lesson pricing based on lesson length.
A Dawn of Music Studios in El Cajon, California
- $35 per 30-minute private lesson held once a week at the studio. Recommended for teens and adults.
- $60 per 60-minute private lesson held once a week at the studio. Recommended for the serious student.
Tony Tixier of Manhattan, New York
- $40 per 30-minute lesson held once a week at the studio
- $65 per 60-minute lesson held once a week at the studio
- These rates are based on a regular schedule of 4 lessons per month. For students who take 3 or fewer lessons per month, or for a one-time lesson, the cost is $80 per 60-minute class.
Piano instructors may offer individually priced classes that range in cost, depending on the length of the session, the teacher's reputation and the location of the piano classes. Many teachers offer tiered pricing, with a lower cost per lesson when students purchase a large number of piano classes upfront. Group lessons for piano students at the same skill level may also be slightly discounted.
Some piano teachers offer monthly rates that include the cost of a weekly lesson and the retention of the teacher's services over time. Piano studios that offer monthly rates often require signed agreements that stipulate the time, day of week and studio policies. You may also be required to set up automatic payment for your monthly tuition. Some studios require advance notice, such as two weeks or a month, to cancel your monthly lessons. This allows the piano teacher to fill your slot with another student without taking a financial hit. The longer the weekly lesson, the higher your monthly rate will be.
Lessons might include music theory, performance skills, technique, ear training, sight-reading, composition and more. Discounts may be available as students take more classes per week. Dr. Kim Piano Academy explains that their studio calculates monthly tuition to take into account the varying number of weeks in each month, and that students receive 32 weeks of lessons per year. In addition to those 32 weeks of lessons, Dr. Kim's studio tuition covers participation in other events, six group classes a year, recitals, curriculum planning, and other enrichment activities offered throughout the year. When signing on with a new piano teacher or studio with monthly rates, be sure you understand how costs break down and what additional services, if any, are included in the price. Here are some examples of average monthly piano lesson costs:
MuzikAdict Piano Studio in El Cajon, California
- $112 per month for weekly 30-minute lessons
- $148 per month for weekly 45-minute lessons
- $180 per month for weekly 60-minute lessons
Dr. Kim Piano Academy in San Diego, California
- $383 per month for weekly 60-minute lessons
- $550 per month for weekly 90-minute lessons
Teachers may offer their piano lesson instruction in semesters, instead of drop-in or monthly lessons, which allows them to establish a rapport over time with their students. This can help ensure their students' growth and promote deepening understanding of the art, as well as create a more structured business relationship. Traditionally, an academic semester is 16 weeks. For example, WillYouLearn of Brooklyn, New York, offers two semesters each year consisting of 16 one-hour lessons at the same time and day each week. Students are offered one makeup session at the end of the semester as needed. The tuition for one semester at WillYouLearn is $1,550 with discounts for early registration and yearly registration.
Teaching piano lessons is about music and artistry, but it's also how piano teachers make their living. For this reason, they may have administrative fees to cover their costs of doing business. Some teaching academies may have an annual registration fee if they provide piano lessons at a monthly rate as opposed to individually priced piano classes. Typically, the more students from one family who attend piano lessons at that academy, the lower the rate. For example, a piano academy may charge a $25 annual registration fee for one student or a $35 annual registration fee for a family.
If you pay monthly tuition, instructors may charge fees for late payment. For example, Dr. Kim Piano Academy charges $15 per each month after the 7th of each month for late monthly payments. Dr. Kim Piano Academy also charges a returned check fee of $20, plus any bank charges incurred. If payment is not made within 10 days of the due date, lessons will be suspended until payment is made.
Piano teachers may charge higher rates for lessons with a higher level of intensity or focus than beginning lessons, and teachers with advanced skills may charge higher overall rates. Training that prepares students for music school or orchestral auditions and advanced study of piano music theory all may cost more. This higher cost reflects the added expertise of the teacher and the increased intensity of the work.
Lesson rates may also be higher if the teacher is required to travel to the student's home to teach — especially if the student lives outside the teacher's standard service range or requests lessons during peak traffic hours. The additional fee accounts for the teacher's time and transportation expenses. For example, Tony Tixier charges an additional $10 per lesson when he is required to travel to the student's home, or $75 instead $65 for an hour-long lesson.
Piano teachers who have well-regarded professional and performance careers often charge higher rates than teachers who are not as well known. These higher rates reflect the years of training and effort that have gone into building their careers and their knowledge and understanding of the instrument. Emir Gamsızoğlu of Classical for All in New York City, who is a classical concert pianist, explains that experience will definitely affect piano lesson rates; teachers who are more specialized will typically charge higher rates than piano teachers who are focused on beginners.
How to hire a great piano teacher
Whether you are new to music or ready to take your piano playing to the next level, finding a great piano teacher can be daunting. Start by reading student reviews and learning about a prospective piano teacher's experience and background. Ask yourself what you hope to gain by taking piano lessons. Do you want to learn to play for fun, are you an aspiring concert pianist, are you interested in learning piano to relieve stress or as a new hobby? Whatever your motivation, focus on finding a teacher who specializes in your area. If you just want learn your favorite Elton John songs to play at house parties, you may not need to hire a piano teacher who is also an elite classical concert pianist. In fact, you may be spending more money than necessary.
Once you have decided on a teacher you'd like to work with, set up an introductory lesson to get to know each other, learn both teacher's and student's intentions, and assess playing and teaching styles. This is a good chance to see if you like a piano teacher before signing on for monthly lessons. During the intro lesson, let the teacher know your playing and learning goals. This will help them guide you toward the optimal lesson length and frequency. Instructors at MuzikAdict Piano Studio recommend that more advanced and intermediate students sign up for longer lessons (60-minute lessons rather than 30-minute lessons). Although the costs are slightly higher, more serious students generally benefit from the longer lesson time each week.
If you've found a piano teacher you like and are ready to commit, be prepared to commit to some additional work as well. Piano lessons extend beyond your weekly or bi-weekly session with your teacher. Your teacher will know if you have been neglecting your keyboard and scales all week. It's important to practice each day and push yourself to grow. Piano is a lifelong pursuit that will keep your fingers and mind nimble for years to come.
- Read client reviews and follow up with references to make sure you're choosing the right piano teacher for you. For more, check out our tips for smart hiring.