We live in the age of the internet, an era of instant connectivity. One of the primary benefits of everyone being linked and connected to each other so easily is that the sharing of knowledge across large expanses of the globe, and even across time, has become almost second nature and effortless. For someone wanting to learn an instrument like the piano, it only takes a few seconds to find literally countless options for learning how to play — from online lesson courses like Udemy to YouTube tutorials and everything in between.
So, why would anyone want (or need) a private piano teacher when all it takes to “master the piano in 4 weeks” is $49 and the click of a mouse? Better yet, why pay anything at all, when pretty much any song you’ve ever wanted to play can be found on YouTube for FREE?
Why do YOU need a piano teacher?
REASON #1: Being a good student AND a good teacher are difficult to do simultaneously.
Most people only think they can teach themselves. There is a world of difference between actually teaching yourself and being self-guided with the aid of technology. If those sound like the same thing, let me explain the difference.
Teaching yourself (or being “auto-didactic”) is actually something that no one has the intrinsic, or automatic, ability to do. It’s a learned skill, just like playing the piano itself. Teaching yourself means having some knowledge about something already, acquiring more through research and experimentation (trial and error), and then executing that knowledge in a particular new application — like a new piece of music that you want to play, or perhaps learning a new language. In the process of applying your existing knowledge and experimenting with it in a new and different environment, one can broaden their learning and thus discover “new” knowledge.
This process of trial and error can be very enlightening if one is open-minded and insightful enough to glean knowledge from the experience. What people don’t often anticipate is that it can also be incredibly frustrating and even detrimental to a positive learning experience for some. If you are likely to get impatient with yourself, or you think you would get easily overwhelmed by vast amounts of information you have to assimilate and organize, then “teaching yourself” may not be your best choice.
But this is not what most people mean anyway when they refer to being self-taught. We use this expression quite often in our current era to mean that we learned something with the assistance of an online course, YouTube, or other technological tool. Even using a how-to book would be considered “self-guided” learning.
As a pianist and teacher myself, I already know how to play piano, so learning a new song or applying what I’ve learned to a different style or technique is something I have the ability to step myself through, in a logical order, so that the end result is achieved successfully. No one else (not even Google) has to show me how, unless I want to learn a “tip” or “shortcut” of some kind that I don’t already know.
Teaching yourself is actually something already packaged in my music lessons. It’s a skill that all my piano students learn along the way, and it’s connected to being a self-generative, creative individual. By taking piano lessons from a teacher like myself, not only would you be able to teach yourself, but through your teacher, you would have greater ease of access to the resources of knowledge that make the process of teaching yourself easier — like tips and tricks!
Maybe you are now having the internal realization that you don’t know enough about the piano to figure it out on your own. So your next step is to seek out the expertise of someone else, via the internet, or in person. While the teacher shares their knowledge, you can continue to guide yourself down the right path to success by keeping an open mind, remaining committed to disciplined practice, and targeted effort.
REASON #2: The Superior Experience
An even better argument for needing a piano teacher is that (prerecorded) online lessons of the tutorial variety are not really “responsive” or flexible to your individual and unique learning style. Yes, that’s right. You learn slightly differently from other people. You have a “style.” Studying with a teacher who is trained to adapt their lesson plan to your style will absolutely be the most effective form of learning.
Neil Moore, the founder and executive director of Simply Music, was recently interviewed by Tim Topham for his podcast and blog (Click Here to watch the interview on YouTube). He asked Neil what he thought about the question of online lessons vs. having a private teacher, and this was his response:
“…Absolutely anything that contributes to [self-expression] is a good thing . . . Having said that, there’s a world of difference between that experience [being self-taught] as distinct from being with a teacher who understands what it is that they’re doing — that has the ability to look at exactly and precisely the way that you learn, and the speed of your progress, and the hurdles that you, in particular, come up with, and how to manage those and customize the experience. As well as how to take your experience, and take what it is you’ve learned and expand (in ways that would not ordinarily come to mind for you) that foundation of knowledge. In my point of view the partnership between a committed teacher and a committed student is still, by far, the superior experience, even though a self-study experience can be a great experience.”