How do I find piano lessons near me? If you've never played the piano before, and find yourself inspired to learn, that is most likely the question you're asking yourself. The search for a music teacher can seem like a daunting task, but with this article we aim to guide you in making an informed choice.

As with most things in life, simply being an accomplished pianist, doesn’t necessarily mean that someone will be a good piano teacher. Finding a teacher who is compatible with you is especially important when you are a complete beginner. So if you’re hoping to learn how to play the piano, be it a grand piano, electronic keyboard or upright piano, it would be wise to follow a careful selection process to ensure that you find just the right piano teacher for you.

What to Consider When Choosing a Private Piano Teacher

Before you schedule a piano lesson, it is important to establish which aspects of the piano and music making your instructor can teach. Remember that you will be spending a lot of one-on-one time with your private tutor, so it is essential for you to establish that they are the right teacher for you before you commit to regular lessons.

One way of getting to know your piano instructor's character, as well as finding out more about their music credentials, is to ask key questions.

Young girl playing piano
Make sure you know as much as possible about your piano teacher before starting lessons.⎢Source: Unsplash

Start the process by performing some careful research to find out whether your potential piano teacher has a solid foundation in music and will be able to guide you properly in your music education. Do they have a degree in music? Are they self-taught? Or are they placed somewhere in between?

As a beginner piano student, your teacher's experience and background will shape your musical journey and influence whether or not you will achieve your personal goals.

Here are a few questions to ask your potential tutor, before you embark on music lessons with them:

  • What kind of training background do you have?
  • Which musical genres do you most enjoy?
  • When did you start playing the piano?
  • What other instruments do you play?
  • What kind of teaching methods do you use?

By asking the right questions, not only will you find out more about your potential instructor's history, but a conversation like this is also the perfect opportunity for you to share your personal objectives with your teacher. This will help provide you with a guarantee that you are aligning yourself with the teacher who will provide you with precisely the sort of piano instruction and accompaniment you need.

You might be embarking on a musical journey simply for enjoyment, because you will start to play piano at school or as part of a university course, or even for the purposes of a future career where you will one day perform a solo recital; whatever the reason may be, you should share this goal with your teacher upfront.

parts of the piano
Enlist the services of a private tutor to advance your piano playing skills. ⎢Source: Unsplash

It is also helpful to have some prior knowledge of the hourly average rates of piano lessons in your area so that you are well informed when you start discussing fees with your teacher. In addition, it is useful to know the cost of learning other musical disciplines in order to place your piano lesson fees into context.

While private music lesson rates can vary heavily depending on the qualifications and experience of the teacher, the following table provides a summary of the average prices for piano lessons, as well as those of other popular instruments, in South Africa.

InstrumentLesson Price
Acoustic guitarR316
Electric guitarR374
The average cost of music lessons in South Africa.

Students Who Teach

Music students, whether they are learning classical piano or another instrument such as acoustic guitar, clarinet, cello or violin, usually make great tutors quite simply because they are in a space in life where they themselves are being taught. They will also be in a great position to help you build confidence. Students are usually enthusiastic about their instrument, energetic, and love what they do, so this makes them a fantastic choice for lessons for children or younger adults.

Another advantage of learning to play piano with a student is that their tutoring services are generally more affordable. However, if you are hoping to be taught extremely advanced techniques or incorporate musical theory into your lessons, you should be prepared to pay a higher rate.

concert pianist
A music student will share your passion and may connect with you more easily.⎢Source: Unsplash

In many cases music students successfully launch their tutoring careers before they are fully qualified. Bear in mind that these tutors are still studying, which means that you will have to ensure that your tutor's timetable is compatible with your own schedule.

The best way to find a student music tutor in South Africa is to check out the notice boards at universities or music schools, or by using a tutoring platform where students who are serious about part-time tutoring are registered.

Professional Piano Coaches

As you search for private piano lessons you may want to consider an independent professional who will most likely have had the experience of teaching in a larger music academy or university during their career, but who simply prefers to be self-employed and independent.

As the teaching of music is their full-time occupation, you can expect to pay more than for a student tutor; however, a professional is sure to have a significant level of knowledge and expertise, which should translate to excellent teaching methods. Professional musicians know how to identify an individual piano student's strengths and weaknesses and will be able advise you upfront on the best methods to help you reach your goals.

Book of sheet music
A private piano teacher can help you compose your first song.⎢Source: Unsplash

Private piano tutors often have many personal accolades that might not be listed on their profiles, so it is important to ask them about their musical backgrounds, achievements and teaching methods in a polite way, when you do make contact.

Once again, you could use a tutoring platform to search for a private tutor to give you face-to-face or online lessons. Certain tutors on the Superprof platform also offer classes in a group setting, and in this way you are able to pay a reduced rate and also share the learning experience with other students.

Retired Piano Teachers

When music has been a career, the career will have been built on passion. Since passion and the love of music will not come to an end simply because a teacher retires, retired piano teachers can make excellent private tutors.

If you intend to take lessons in how to read music and in learning advanced techniques and music theory, you may want to opt for a teacher who has spent at least part of their career at a music school like the South African College of Music, the renowned music department of the University of Cape Town.

child learning to play piano
Benefit from the experience of a retired pianist or music teacher.⎢Source: Unsplash

Students will be in a uniquely privileged position when they are under the guidance of these world-class teachers, and may even be privy to their tutor's personal secrets for success.

Alternatively, there are many retired high school music teachers who are an excellent choice for learning the basics. These tutors are likely to be more relaxed and flexible than former university or conservatory teachers, and are an excellent choice for children and other beginners.

Many retired high school music teachers have taught at Matric level and have successfully prepared learners for their tertiary education in music. This kind of teacher would be well suited to give private lessons to someone who may have learnt to play piano, but who has not practised for some time and may need to reawaken their muscle memory.

Remember that retired music teachers not only know how to play and read music, but they also have experience in teaching music and will likely be very patient with all skill levels and ages, from pre-schoolers to adult students. So, regardless of their piano pedagogy, they are a good option and are more often than not very affordable.

Self-Taught Piano Instructors

Music is one of those professions where, given enough talent and dedication, it is possible for enthusiasts to teach themselves.

Though many musicians are self-taught, they often polish their talents using collective and online resources until they have built up sufficient competencies  to pass on to others.

playing piano on the street
A self-taught pianist uses unconventional teaching methods that may make lessons more fun.⎢Source: Unsplash

While self-taught piano tutors will not necessarily boast the same knowledge of musical theory and history or use the techniques taught by classically trained musicians, they can be equally effective. In fact, in some cases, students are overwhelmed by the technical theory of scales or arpeggios and can really benefit from a more organic style of learning the piano. These students will likely respond more positively to the informal teaching methods and improvisation techniques used by a self-taught musical master.

Most self-taught piano tutors have an unlimited genre of music at their disposal. So, whether you want to learn to play the classics, like Mozart, jazz standards or the most popular songs of the year, it’s likely that the next time you are searching for private music lessons you will find a willing, self-taught instructor who is very capable of making that dream come true.

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Niki is a content writer from Cape Town, South Africa, who is passionate about words, strategic communication and using words to help create and maintain brand personas. Niki has a PR and marketing background, but her happiest place is when she is bringing a story to life on a page.