September 8

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No License Required

One of the great challenges for the piano teaching profession is that anyone can legally accept money for piano lessons. There's no license required.

It's not only a challenge for piano teachers, but also students looking for a good teacher.

When high schoolers and amateur pianists are charging $25/hour for piano lessons, it makes it all the harder for teachers with doctorates to charge $60.

Meanwhile, parents and students who think they're getting a deal, are really setting themselves up for failure.

But then, there are teachers who charge $100/hour and have no idea what they're doing either.

A friend from Europe told me this doesn't fly in his home country. In order to teach piano, you need to have a license. Otherwise, it's illegal.

To get your teaching license, you have to show that you can play, that you can teach, and that you can manage a studio.

At first, it sounds like maybe this is the answer. But then, there's another problem. 

Yes, everyone is licensed in this scenario. But, who is giving the licenses out? And what is their criteria? Does it allow room for teachers to be creative, or does it demand that every teacher teach the exact same way?

Confusing, right? So, how is an unsuspecting student or parent to know what's good and what isn't?

Here's a simple list to get started. If you're looking into lessons with a piano teacher, check these things.

1. The teacher can explain their philosophy of teaching, and the path they plan to take you on in a way that you can understand it. This alone will clear out 90% of the deadwood.

2. Once you begin lessons, are you progressing along the path promised in #1?

3. If you have questions or problems, can the teacher address them in a practical, understandable manner?

There will never be a licensing system for piano teachers. And there probably shouldn't be. So, the next best thing that students and parents can do is arm themselves with some simple metrics to find a good teacher that is right for them.

Regardless of the cost.

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For parents, students, and anyone else who believes that music can and should be a meaningful part of everyone's life.

About Jonathan Roberts

I am the founder and director of the South Shore Piano School, and I have been teaching the piano for nearly 20 years. My work centers around bringing music to the lives of kids, parents, and adults in an enriching, meaningful way. At the South Shore Piano School, my incredible colleagues and I accomplish this through skill-based teaching, community, and an innovative, people-first business model. You can read more about me here.


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