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Self-Taught VS Private Piano Lessons?

Updated: Dec 16, 2023

We are all busy with the usual daily responsibilities of going to school, work, taking care of children, etc. But what if we want to add a hobby into our routine? Something fun and hopefully relaxing to get our minds off the stress of the daily grind. Learning the piano is an accessible hobby taken up by many adults and teens as a way to dive into a new side of creativity and learn a new skill at the same time. Keeping in the mind our busy schedule, is it better to learn piano on your own or take lessons from a private piano instructor? #pianolessons #onlinepianolessons #learningpiano #privatepianolessons #selftaughtpianoThis site contains product affiliate links. I may receive a commission if you make a purchase after clicking on one of these links.



girl looking down at piano keys with sheet music on the music rack

I would say, it depends on the person! Are you someone who is very self-motivated and can provide structure to your practice? Or do you need someone to provide specific tasks for you to do each week to keep you accountable? Do you prefer going at your own pace or your progress be monitored by an instructor?


I will list a few areas to consider when deciding between the two modes of learning:



- Technique-

With self-taught learning, it can be easy to overlook the technical side of piano playing. Although method books cover the basics of hand/finger position, how to sit at the piano, etc., it is difficult to be intentional about proper technique without the guide of a trained instructor. With in-person or online lessons from a trained teacher, proper hand/wrist/forearm position and appropriate exercises can be implemented within lessons.


-Theory-

There are many all-in-one piano method books that include technical exercises as well as music theory as you progress through a book such as Faber Adult Piano Adventures and Alfred All-In-One Piano. Music theory is the backbone of learning music, to understand how a chord/scale is formed, etc. However, some students prefer to focus on specific aspects of playing such as just learning how to read notes on the staff, just playing lead sheet style music, or playing a specific piece. If you want a more comprehensive learning experience, a teacher can help implement proper theory within your lessons in conjunction with the pieces you're currently learning.


-Motivation-

Are you someone who needs to be held accountable every week for practicing? Or do you enjoy going at your own pace, even with breaks in between? A teacher can provide structure to your lessons and give assignments based off of your progress each week. If you are working through a specific method book or piece on your own, there are numerous tutorials on Youtube that can also help you determine if you are playing something correctly. Just beware of the source of video!

A teacher may offer performance opportunities during the year such as an informal performance class or annual recital. These settings are a great motivator for students, children and adults, to work towards a goal and get practicing in. With the self-taught approach, you can play for your family/peers but be willing to set that up on your own.


-Cost-

Learning piano at your own pace requires minimal costs aside from purchasing your piano/keyboard and books/materials. You may choose to learn with the help of Youtube or a stand alone online piano course which can vary in price. A private piano instructor charges per week, per month, or per semester for lessons. Books may or may not be included. Flexibility in lesson schedule depends on the instructor and his/her studio policy. Some students find paying a recurring fee for lessons a good motivator for continuing the learning process.


Final Thoughts:


Whichever road you take depends on your learning style and personality. I highly recommend James Clear's book "Atomic Habits" in which he lists the different ways to stick to a habit (musical and non-musical), and it can apply to either method of learning the piano. I have even had some adult students start off as self-taught and gradually transition to private lessons to receive more guidance and improvement on their technique. In the end, either way of learning a new instrument should be acknowledged as a great first step to starting a new journey!



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