Methods of Learning Piano — Which One is Right for You?

Choosing the Right Piano Training Method

Congratulations on deciding to learn piano! You are about to begin a truly rewarding journey. Assuming that you already have a piano to play, the next step is choosing how you are going to learn to play. There is no “One Best Way” to learn. All different formats have their advantages and disadvantages. But you can narrow it down based on your needs, budget, and situation. This article reviews most common methods of training and the pros and cons of each.

Self -teaching with books

This is a tried-and-true method that has been used by thousands of people to achieve success in their piano playing. Piano lesson books are inexpensive (especially when bought used) and plentiful. They break down concepts in a logical fashion, and as long as you follow the lessons in order, you can rapidly become a good player.

There are a few disadvantages to this method. You absolutely need to be a self-starter, and stick to your commitment, as there is no instructor to hold you accountable. Another disadvantage, and this applies across-the-board to any methods not involving instruction with a music teacher, is that you get no feedback about your playing method or ways to improve. You are, at least at the beginning, stuck with whatever music the books contain.

Self-teaching with video

There are numerous videos available for purchase at music stores or for rental at libraries. This is a low-priced alternative to in-person lessons, and the visual aspect can be mimicked to start good playing habits (posture and finger position, etc.). The audio element can help you to ensure you are creating the right sound.

In addition to the disadvantages listed above with books, you need to have a playback method, which means you must place extra equipment nearby. This can be prove to be obtrusive and distracting.

Online music schools

These are the modern equivalent of correspondence courses and are a great low-cost alternative to in- person training. You can learn at your own pace and during your preferred hours. At the same time, (depending on the course you choose) you get much-needed feedback from a knowledgeable, experienced music instructor.

One disadvantage is that the feedback provided (if your course includes feedback) is delayed by hours, days, or weeks.

Lessons with an instructor in a studio or a music shop

Instruction with a live teacher is, for most people, the best way to learn piano for several reasons. You get immediate feedback from someone who knows what he or she is talking about. Lessons can be given at your individual pace. The lessons can be personalized to your needs and tastes. Importantly, you will have an “accountability partner,” someone other than yourself whom you will need to answer to if you haven’t devoted enough time and effort between lessons.

The only perceived disadvantage to this method is that it is typically more expensive than other methods.

Lessons at home with a live instructor

Many music teachers offer to teach you on your own piano, on your own home. This can be a huge advantage, particularly if you are partial to the sound of your own piano or if you lack transportation to the instructor’s studio.

This is the costliest form of instruction by far.

Choose what’s best for you

There is no “one size fits all,” best method for everyone. Hopefully, after considering the pros and cons of each method you have been presented here, you can make a better-informed choice.