Several questions about starting out : LUSENET : Everything About Teaching and Learning the Piano : One Thread

I am a prospective adult beginner and I hope to find some guidance to help me get off on the right foot. In effect I am starting from a position of zero knowledge, because although I had a few terms of violin lessons as a child, and about 10 years ago I tried to teach myself mandolin and guitar, I never learnt to read music and with the guitar in particular I felt that although I could do some scales and chord changes fairly fluently, I never got to the stage where I was actually playing music, or indeed doing any more than following what was in the book.

I want to start again and to treat the whole exercise as a musical education, of which the piano will be the principal part. I have had a good look around this forum, but I still have a number of questions, as follows:

1. I want to find a good teacher. I know there is more to being a good teacher than getting the right qualifications, but I am sure they help. How can I tell the difference between the various letters that people have after their names? For example, taking just a few examples from a long list, I find LTCL, ALCM, LRAM(PfSg), ARCM, GRSM, GRNCM, AGSM. I assume that some of these refer to the Royal College of Music, the Royal Northern College of Music, or whatever. I dare say you need to be a good musician to get into the RCM, but should I be looking for in terms of *teaching* qualifications? (This may be the wrong place to ask this question, as I get the impression that most users are in places other than the UK, but any responses would be welcome).

2. I have never had one-to-one lessons for anything before, let alone something as unknown as this. What kind of questions should I ask a prospective teacher, and what might they want to know of me?

3. I suspect that word of mouth is a good way to find a teacher, but I don't know anyone who might have an opinion. Any ideas on how else to avoid a random choice from the Yellow Pages, or the lists one finds on various websites?

4. I will need an instrument for practice. I can rent rather than buy, so cost isn't at the top of the list of criteria for now. I work full time, so practice will be an evening activity, after my 5 year-old has gone to bed. It would be useful to have an electronic piano, so that I can play without disturbing her, using headphones. Is this a bad way to start? The manufacturers claim that their instruments are indistinguishable from the acoustic variety, but I wonder whether I could be storing up problems for myself later by starting with an electronic one.

5. I want to do the job properly, by which I mean that I want to be able to play anything of whatever standard I have reached at the time, by sight. I am prepared for this to take time, probably a long time, but is it a realistic goal for an adult learner? I am 37 and still feel as though I am in possession of all my faculties!

Many thanks for taking the time to read all of this, and many thanks in advance for any replies.


Kevin Danks Burley, Hampshire

-- Kevin Danks (, August 20, 2002


If you go under Music and under teacher search type in your zip code. A list of teachers in your area will come up, if any. This is one way to find a teacher. To be reassured of a good teacher, you can call your local music store for referral sometimes.

The electric piano is fine; however, if the piano is your passion you will eventully want a piano. There shouldn't be any problem learning the electric piano.

I hope this info helps.

-- (no, December 07, 2002.


I cant provide too much help as I am in about the same situation as you are. I have been working on the piano for about 6 months and am loving the process of learning it!!

I went and bought a nice electronic keyboard and have been practicing on it with good results. I looked into a digital piano but figured that I could learn on a keyboard for at least a year before dropping so much money into a digital piano. Eventually I would like to get a regular piano but dont feel like Im being handicaped right now by just using a keyboard for a year. This seems consistent with the opinion of most of the piano teachers I have spoken with. Also, sometimes I go and use the piano at the local church just to see what its like. I too have a kiddo and I can tell you those headphones are sure handy.

I have been working through the Alfred Adult Learner books and I like them. I am also in the process of finding a teacher and like you am a bit nervouse about that. Im happy now that I have been working on my own for awhile as I feel that I will be able to be more focused on what I want and need from an instructor, and will be beter able to appreciate the help they give.

Anyway, not much help there for you, just another perspective. Good luck to you in your efforts, it is very worth while.


-- Kirk R. (, March 01, 2003.

Kevin. Here are some suggestions from a piano teacher. It's ok to go with a digital, make sure that it is a high quality instrument, i don't suggest gettting the cheaper insturment. When asking about lessons... here are some basic suggestions. Look for a person who is involved in the music teachers national association. you can find their webpage at There are suggestions also as to finding a teacher at Look for a local music teachers association.. teacher who are involved in an organization tend to be more intrested in learning new things. Yamaha also has on their pianos a feature that one of my students uses. it's middle pedal drops down a piece of felt over the strings, as a sort of silencer. I hope this helps you out. Shannon

-- Shannon Whaples (, March 28, 2003.

Kevin, I started as an adult at the age of 32. I have been going to lessons for 6 years and still enjoy it. Ii decided to use a digital piano because I can practice only in the evening and I live in a flat. I chose a Techninc digital piano with MIDI facilities which enable me to record one hand and play the other. So it is good for practising!! Salvatore

-- (, May 01, 2003.

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