Author – Jack Solomon.
Have you wasted your money? — Are you wasting your money? — Or are you about to waste your money on private piano lessons? In the following article you will find out exactly what I mean.
When you are starting out, you will realize that there are lots of different ways you can learn the piano.
• From a book
• Private teacher
• Online lessons
• Music School (group lessons)
All of them have their advantages and disadvantages.
What you are about to learn in the following article is the advantages and disadvantages of having private lessons and the answer to the controversial statement “private piano lessons are a waste of money”.
Having private piano lessons means one-to-one piano lessons in your own home or at your teacher’s home.
* * Piano lessons in your home * *
– – Advantages – –
• Saves you time, zero traveling
• You can make “your own cup of tea just the way you like it”
• You can keep up-to-date with your favourite TV program at the same time!
• You can disappear to the toilet at anytime to escape from the boredom
Only joking! But it really does happen sometimes. Really there is only ONE advantage and that is saving the time it takes to travel to lessons.
– – Disadvantages – –
Distraction is the biggest disadvantage if you decide to have piano lessons at home. It really is unavoidable.
• Your phone rings
• Your dog is barking and wants attention
• Your neighbour is banging nails into the wall
• Your other neighbour is ‘not the greatest fan of the piano’ and is banging something else on the wall
• Your teacher is stuck in traffic and is running late
• Your teacher complains every week about the poor quality of your piano, and that it is always out of tune
• Private piano lessons are incredibly expensive and you usually have to commit for a certain period of time
And on and on… Well, you get the idea.
Distractions affect your concentration, your ability to learn and remember things and it really wastes everyone’s time.
* * Private lessons in the piano teacher’s home * *
If you don’t have to travel too far and can avoid traffic jams then having piano lessons at your teacher’s home is better than in your own home.
– – Advantages – –
• Your teacher’s piano is usually a good one, and is normally in tune
• You rarely get distractions at your teacher’s home
– – Disadvantages – –
• Traveling time
• Stressful driving in traffic
• Finding a parking space
• Parking costs
• Fuel or public transport costs
– – Conclusion – –
Private piano lessons at home are ok if you have an endless supply of money (who has?), and distractions do not bother you. Piano lessons in your teacher’s home are slightly better, but the boredom level is significantly increased!
– – The Answer – –
Go and learn by yourself! Buy an online piano course (not a free one, as you usually don’t get enough information).
The best online piano courses usually cost less than £50 and you get the same information and sometimes more than any teacher would give you.
You can also study the course in your own time, in the comfort of your own home, with your feet up on the desk, sipping the best cup of tea in the world ;-). The best value for money online course I have seen so far is the Rocket Piano. Read more about it here
P.S. You may think that I’m out on a mission in this article to bash private piano teachers. This is NOT the case. There comes a time when you reach a certain level that having private piano lessons is the ONLY option. I am simply stating that these days there are much cheaper and more convenient ways for beginners to learn the piano.
A controversial opinion is the name of the game. I write what I believe no matter what anyone says.
[You’re free to use this article on your website or newsletter as long as it remains intact and includes the biog box]
Questions, reviews and comments on this article
“I am learning the same stuff and more now for free online!”
I just this week got kicked out of my piano lesson tha meets once a week. I am 39 year old and figured I’d get a head start of learning something new for the next 40 years of my life and started taking private piano lessons at teh rate of about £17 a week for 30 minutes. I did enjoy them, but wouldn’t have said i had the real connection with the teacher. Even less that of a connection when she got a little preturbed at my not having delivered the cash for my last lesson, even after we had agreed I would pay her the lump sum of £100 the follwoing week. I have always paid on time, and am guessing she must have had opther reasons for sending me on my way. I am enjoying learning adn am actually picking things up fairly quickly since I played violin for 8 years growing up. I won’t lose sleep over it, now, but I can say now as I was walking away after hand delivering her her last £40 per her request (£6 more than the the £17 per lesson she had expected) that she did me a favour and is saving me a lot of money. I am learning the same stuff and more now for free and find the the teaching methods are much more conducive to my way of learning. Thanks for the heads up on these online piano lessons and now I can put my money towards saving for the nice piano which I hope to own some day. Til then, I will stick with the yamaha Synthesizer. :O) all the best.
Kevin Gardner (Future Piano Prodigy Hopeful)
“The rest is up to you”
I believe that piano lessons are good in the beginning when you start learning, because the teacher can teach you the technique to play the instrument, I think that a good teacher is capable to teach the correct technique. It’s not the same if you start learning on your own because despite you could have a good piano course (manual) you can’t learn the good technique if you don’t see it with your own eyes playing on the keyboard.
I agree that piano lessons are expensive and could be a waste of money if you don’t take advantage of these, I think that when you have taken some lessons by a good teacher, the rest is up to you… so you can continue learning on your own and if you have some doubts you can find out the way to solve it by asking to the person who was your teacher or any other good teacher that you may know…
I am biased on this topic.
I think I have the best of both worlds because my concert pianist teacher is my neighbour two doors away.
But having started learning with books and CDs, I find that the pressure of preparing for my next lesson with my private teacher keeps me from procrastinating and keeps me on my toes.
“My teacher has helped me overcome problems”
I disagree. Especially for beginners.
Yes, there are things you can learn from books, and I guess if you’re very musical, and piano is your second instrument, you might get away with it for a while, but I believe getting the basics right from the start is fundamental, and so you need someone to watch your hands and ensure you don’t learn bad habits. You can easily get bad posture, and bad fingering if you’ve no advice.
Discipline is also a problem for most of us, and having to turn up each week and show some progress motivates me! My teacher has helped me overcome problems that I dont think a book would’ve been able to diagnose.
Also, Music is a language, and no one would suggest you learn french without talking to people who can speak french.
So, yes, online courses, books and media are all useful, but there is nothing like sitting next to someone and playing a teacher/pupil duet to get the feeling you’re actually playing the piano, and not just pressing the keys.
But, of course I’m lucky, as my teacher is Brilliant.
(I learned music through school, and through being in a brass band for 12 years, so piano is my 2nd instrument, but I’d still not want to learn without guidance)
“Piano lessons at the tutor’s home on a good acoustic piano is the best option”
Earlier today, I told my daughter’s piano teacher that they would not be having any more lessons with her because the piano she was teaching them on is a Casio CDP 100 and I told her that my children had noticed differences in key weighting compared with our Yamaha CLP 470. Her response was to offer to teach them on our own piano at home. I told her that this was not an acceptable option and that I would prefer that they learned on an acoustic upright.
I had also not considered all the disadvantages of having lessons at home featured in your article and I am glad I made the decision I did. They will now be having lessons on a Yamaha upright piano. I myself am using the Rocket Piano online lesson guides but have also ordered the hard copy booklets which are easier to follow on the music stand. Certainly for young children without a capable piano playing parent, I think that piano lessons away from home on a good acoustic piano is the best option albeit costly.
For adults including those returning to piano playing after a very long lay off like myself, the Rocket Piano guides are a great way to either start from scratch or re-familiarise yourself with the basics before progressing further. They are logical and straight forward to follow. With this option, of course you have to be sufficiently disciplined to put the time aside to dig out the books and teach yourself as well as practicing but the cost benefits of this approach are huge. Only time will tell if I am able to reach the level I want to get to through self tuition alone. Thanks for this useful information which came through at a very appropriate time.
Personaly I don’ t think private piano lessons a waste of money because when one is seeking for such knowledge it means you are in need of it, so l don’t see any reason for one to say it’s a waste of money when receiving the information you want, except if you are not getting what you are expecting.
I think that a teacher is better somebody looks after you if you do a mistake, impossible in a book or cd, the position, the sound. If you don’t understand something and you have to work for the next lesson because you pay and it is a motivation. With a teacher i can play what i want classic jazz and pop or other.
I absolutley loved the atricle. The part that most stood out were the advantages and disadvantages in the lesson. Well, in my understanding of it, getting free lessons is better than nothing and even some self teach themselves. Which is incredible!
I would go along with the point of you can teach yourself lots of subjects if you are disciplined to do so but I would not have thought to teach my self piano from a study guide besides what do you do when you dont understand and you have no one to ask. I would say if you did a survey of people that could teach themselves how to read music and play hands coordinated it would be quite a low percentage. In my time of going to lessons over 21 years I have had 4 teachers and through my current teacher I was able to get my grade 7 practical and my grade 5 theory. To Answer the argument I would say definetely go to a teacher for proper tuition, that is an invaluable way of learning and they will be there when problems crop up, another plus when you are with a teacher you are more apt to want to go in for exams when you have thier backing.
I have just read the article “are piano lessons a waste of money” – the article does raise a few interesting points, however I feel it is too much of a generalisation as all piano teachers are not the same by any means! – my piano teacher does not bore me to death – though the travelling time is abit of an issue which the article clearly raises – it takes me about an hour on the bus!
“It is too general and over the top”
Why does it have to be one thing or another? – us and them so to speak – I think on-line teaching can support private tuition and vice-versa!
The article does state that both have their advantages – life I think is about balance and so on-line tuition can cover things that private tuition may have missed or to cover things in greater depth that private tuition cannot!
So while I think the article does raise some interesting points I feel it is too general and over the top ( and also alittle contradictrary in parts!).
I don’t believe piano lessons are a waste of money. I’m learning from a teacher and i know there could have been no better way. i tried self study, books, programs, CD’s online courses but i came to the conclusion a teacher is the best thing you could have….For all those who are confused i would say from personal experience you would be lucky to learn from a teacher but you have to be patient and respect you teacher ….
Another good article. I haven’t had any private tuition myself and don’t intend to have any.
The reason is because I have the determination to get beyond the “Oh I can’t do this!!”
point by myself…
Let me explain what I mean….
One benefit I can see to having one to one private tutoring is that there’s
an allocated time that’s “piano time” once a week (or whatever). I think for
a lot of beginners this may be quite important. It’s very easy to start
something and then give up because you don’t feel like you’re achieving
enough or you simply never get round to spending time learning what you want to.
I taught myself to play guitar and know how long it takes as a beginner to
get to a stage where you feel like you’re not all thumbs. It takes a fair
bit of determination to get over the “I’m not getting anywhere” stage. I
think that a lot (not all) of beginners may give up before they pass that
stage if they don’t have a time every week where you HAVE to do at least
I don’t think that private tutoring is necessary beyond that point however
because by that time your mind would be made up about playing or not
playing. At this point I agree completely with your article. If you want to
play, you’ll go through the exercises yourself and it’s here that I think
you’re right and it would be incredibly expensive. A tutor will essentially
be going through the same material an online course would go through. You’re
effectively paying somebody to read to you and show you what they can do.
Not really money well spent.
Hope you don’t think I’m being negative about the article because that’s not
my intention. I just think it’s worth discussing the point that a lot of
beginners would give up because they may not have the discipline to self
teach through those early stages.
I am learning piano by reading online, going through exercises, reading
books on theory and practice and lots of practice and experimentation. I
don’t like the idea of having just one angle for learning and I personally
learn best by drawing from a variety of resources and a lot of practice!
Thanks for listening and keep up the good work,
Hi Graham, there were some very interesting for and against reasons for taking piano lessons with a tutor. Having picked up today our 2yr old Yamaha Arius 140, my daughter for whom it was purchased (12 1/2yrs old), has piano lessons at her teachers house, but the rest of us here at home are going to try other methods, dvd, book, online lessons to try and learn to play ourselves. It will be interesting to see what happens. My other daughter (25) taught herslf Frere Jacque in 15mins, so we will just have to see
“Ha ha ha”
Interesting title. I was married to a pianist, classically trained, who
used to teach, and still does.
No, private lessons are not a waste of money. Generalisation, just like
No, piano lessons are not the only way to learn piano.
Yes, supplemental learning via books, cds, internet, listening to records,
tapes, going to gigs, jamming with friends, EVERYTHING CAN help develop
I play drums, keyboards, flute and trumpet, all very badly yet for fun, and
enjoy them when I play. I’ve learnt to play some Miles Davis tracks,
Concerto De Aranjuez for example, and can play some of Abdullah Ibrahim’s
music on piano, which pleases myself endlessly.
I also happen to know one of the very best guitarists in the country: Mark
Hewin, look him up if you get a chance. He’s played with Bob Geldof, Lou
Reed and others. He’s self-taught. He is nowhere near skilled as my
ex-wife, but is brilliant, one of only two people in dozens of years working
in ‘the arts’ – theatre used to be my game – so saying my friend still has
trouble making ends meet.
What am I saying?
I signed up to your newsletter by chance and out of curiosity. If I can
learn anything new, I am always half-game, but rarely follow up as I am
incredibly busy making ends meet.
So thank you for your mails, I hope you are very happy and enjoy what you
get up to, and make ends meet too! It always helps.
Most of my ex’s students were children, who’s lessons were paid for by nice,
generally middle class people who could afford £600+ per annum to spend on
their usually lovely children, just so 4-8 years later they could say,
‘Isn’t my child naturally gifted?’ Hmmm. So is piano impossible to learn
for those without private lessons?
Another old friend of ours, Nitin Sawnhey, who has done incredibly well this
last ten years, is also self-taught.
My ex. never performed. She self-imploded, and took me with her. Divorce.
Very bad one – she’s a nutter I tell everyone, she’s a classical pianist.
Oh they say, as if that explains it. Highly strung!
Oh! Hope you’re performing or playing and enjoying yourself too! It’s important.
“No knowledge is wasted”
In my own opinion, I do not consider priate piano a lesson a waste of time.
There is no knowledge that is wasted. I know a friend who learn how to drive a car through the internet, and this appear more technical than piano lesson.