04 Jul Are Piano Lessons Worth It?
Have you ever heard one of your favorite songs and wished you were able to play it yourself? Or perhaps you’ve seen a video of someone playing the piano and wished you had their skills? Many people are initially drawn to the idea of playing an instrument because it allows them to express themselves artistically and build a skill that fulfills them outside of work and school commitments. Often, along with interest in learning to play music comes wondering how worthwhile the expense of time and money to take lessons will be. Read on to find a variety of factors to consider when deciding if piano lessons are a good fit for you!
Is It Difficult To Learn The Piano?
One of the most common questions people ask when considering whether or not to sign up for piano lessons is, “How hard is it?” Often stemming from that question is, “How long until I can play well?” In truth, there is no straightforward, one-size-fits-all answer to either of these questions. Instead, it’s best to approach your concerns about how you will progress at lessons by taking a variety of factors into account.
One fortunate thing about the piano as opposed to many other instruments is that getting a sound out of it when you’re just starting out is fairly simple. On the piano, sound is produced by pressing down the keys. This is considerably easier than many woodwind and brass instruments that require learning how to position your lips and blow air through the instrument (a concept called embouchure) to make a sound. Making a sound on the piano is also easier than on string instruments, because for those you need to learn how to hold the bow and guide it across the strings in the correct position. The piano of course has its own technical intricacies that take time to master, but in the early learning stages it’s still an especially accessible choice.
If you’d like to learn more about how sound is produced whenever you press down a piano key, this video by Jared Owen is a really fun and informative watch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NDvS2V7HbnY
Many difficulties in learning to play the piano vary from student to student, as some people excel at concepts that can be difficult for others. For example, reading notes on the staff and finding the location of those notes on the keyboard can be challenging for some students, while others understand that well enough but instead struggle with counting rhythms. Much of how you can succeed in learning to play the piano comes from being able to identify what is most difficult for you and prioritising that concept in your practice time.
The single most important factor, though, that determines how difficult playing the piano will be and how long it will take until you can play well is practice time. To cultivate skill playing any musical instrument, it’s essential to practice during the time between lessons. This excellent article from Teach Piano Today discusses how parents can be involved in their children’s piano practice to ensure kids are getting the most out of weekly lessons.
As mentioned in the article, many beginning students are not aware of the necessity of regular practice, and mistakenly think they will be able to simply arrive for their weekly lessons and those alone will help them improve. However, not practicing between lessons is the surest route to frustration, lack of interest, and, ultimately, quitting lessons altogether. Without practice, you will not be able to build on the advice your teacher gives you at lessons, and so your teacher will not be able to give you further assignments. Practicing helps you move forward at every lesson and enjoy learning.
Many students ask how often they should practice each week, and for how long per day. This is another broad question that relies on individual factors. The conventional wisdom is to practice until you feel you have achieved certain daily goals, but also only for as long as you can stay focused and be productive, as you do not want to practice excessively to the point of diminishing returns.
Generally, it’s ideal to practice more days of each week than not, and getting in at least 5 days per week is excellent. Regarding the length of each day’s practice, beginners may not need more than roughly 15-30 minutes depending on their age and assignments, and more advanced students typically put in more time. It’s beneficial to break daily practice into smaller sessions, as giving your brain a rest periodically by spreading out practice time helps you make more progress faster than if you sit for one long practice session.
Before signing up for piano lessons, consider how much time you will be able to devote to practicing each week. If practice time will have to be minimal due to other commitments, it will take longer for you to make progress. Like any other skill, playing the piano requires time and effort in order to succeed, and many students find the investment well worth it given the musical rewards.
What Age Can Piano Lessons Start?
Many parents of young children wonder when is the right age to have their kids start piano lessons. Broadly speaking, that answer depends on the parents’ expectations of what lessons will entail. If parents want their children to receive typical assignments and start learning to read music and play pieces on the piano most expediently, an ideal age to start is anywhere between 5 and 7 years old. At that age, students will be able to progress through most common method books teachers would use.
However, some parents register their children for piano lessons earlier, sometimes as young as 3 years old. With such young students, teachers will not realistically be able to assign the same materials as they would to a child a few years older, and the approach to lessons would need to be a bit different. To ensure little children are enjoying lessons and able to understand the concepts introduced, many teachers focus on general musicianship games and short exercises intended to acquaint the student with the instrument. Parents of children under age 5 often sign them up for piano lessons not so much to learn to play the instrument straight away, but more to introduce them to the basics of music in a fun way and help them build the focus to listen to an adult for a set period of time.
Every student is different, though; while some children may be eager to start piano lessons at 3 or 4 years old and can listen to the teacher attentively, others may not be ready at age 6 or 7 and may need some extra time to decide how interested they are in music lessons and build the focus to stay with the teacher for the entire lesson. Parents who are unsure of their children’s inclination towards piano lessons are encouraged to try a lesson first as a one off before committing to a regular weekly schedule. If you’re a parent looking to book a trial piano lesson for your child, have a look here to see what we have to offer!
Are Piano Lessons Expensive?
The cost of piano lessons very much depends on where you look. Many music schools and agencies charge competitive rates that are streamlined to match the current industry trends and ensure teachers are compensated fairly. The Musicians’ Union provides some useful guidance to musicians regarding how much they should expect to be paid for various services, and cites £34 per hour as an acceptable rate for private teaching. This can be a helpful baseline for students in determining what they can expect to pay for piano lessons, making sure to also account for any additional fees that may be charged by the music school employing the teacher.
If you’re considering a teacher or music school whose rates substantially differ from the Musicians’ Union’s recommendation, there may be a reason why. If the cost is significantly lower, it may be that the teacher is not as qualified as they should be and quality of instruction could be lower as a result. This tends to be especially true for private teachers charging hourly rates near identical to the cost of babysitting or dog walking, since prices like that are often too good to be true; excellent piano lessons will come with at least a bit more cost. Low prices from a music school may also be a warning sign, as they can indicate either a less reputable institution that does not hire teachers with proper credentials, or an unfair one that underpays its teachers.
Teachers who charge more expensive rates (upwards of £50 per hour, roughly) often do so if they have a high level of experience and skill. Degreed private piano teachers who have been teaching for many years may charge higher prices because they know they can provide excellent instruction and may be looking specifically for students who are fully committed to learning the piano and see the value in weekly lessons. Certain pianists with distinguished performing careers may also charge higher rates for their private teaching given the prestige of having played many concerts and gone on tour, possibly with other well known musicians. Often, teachers who charge more expensive rates are in high demand from parents who want their children to have the option of a career in music, or from serious older students who want to work with a specific teacher to get that person’s specialised guidance.
At Monica Frank Piano Studio, we charge competitive rates that ensure quality instruction and fair compensation for teachers, while also keeping piano lessons accessible for students. We offer lessons priced at £25 for 30 minutes, £32 for 45 minutes, and £37 for 60 minutes. We’re also happy to offer one off trial lessons at a discount of £5 off the standard rates for students who want to check if piano lessons are right for them without an upfront weekly commitment. Please do get in touch by filling out our contact form , emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or calling us on 07516148393 and we’ll be happy to answer any questions you may have about getting started!