How to Become a Piano Teacher

This piano career guide has been assembled by to help you understand how one can become a professional piano teacher!

Also be sure to check out the helpful books and other resources cites.

Benefits of Teaching Piano Lessons:

  • Teaching piano lessons out of your home gives you the flexibility of running your own business with minimal “overhead” since you are utilizing space that you already own as part of your residence.

  • If you have a passion for music and the piano and also have a passion for teaching and working with children, then this career path capitalizes on those assets.

  • You can schedule your own time and work your students around your schedule. Unfortunately you probably won’t receive “vacation pay” (though some piano teachers have ways of working around that), you will however have flexibility that very few employers can offer.

  • This is something you can continue to do well into your retirement years if you so choose.

  • Teaching piano lessons usually requires only about 20-30 hours a week in order to make a “full-time” income. This of course depends upon your area and lifestyle.

How to Become a Piano Teacher.

Education you should probably receive to become a piano teacher:

  • Piano Lessons. You should, at the very least, have several years of piano lessons yourself taken from a reputable teacher. You will have to learn about notational concepts, developing a healthy piano technique, music theory, and music history at the very least.

  • College Coursework. Most piano teachers should have at least some college-level training in order to be adequately prepared for most piano students. This could include two years of basic theory classes, private piano lessons with a collegiate teacher, music history classes, or music education classes.

  • Workshops or other professional training. By attending many workshops and/or master classes, piano teachers can acquire insights for shaping their private piano teaching in a positive way.

  • College Degrees. Many piano teachers have some sort of college degree. Many have an undergraduate degree, and a few have a graduate degree. Most parents will ask if you have a college degree when they are looking for a piano teacher so this can help. The training you receive at the college level will certainly help prepare you for almost any student that can come your way.

    • Bachelor of Music (BM). This is usually a 4-5 year college degree. It could have an emphasis in piano performance or music education, or some schools offer a “Bachelor of Science in Education with an emphasis in music”. Most “education” degrees are geared more towards teaching in the public schools. The most common type of undergraduate degree for a piano teacher is a Bachelor of Music in Piano Performance. This degree includes a minimum of two years of music analysis (theory) classes, one year of music history, several years of private lessons, recitals and other public performances, and possibly some piano “pedagogy” classes (these classes are specifically designed to teach pianists how to teach private piano lessons to pre-college students).

    • Master of Music (MM). This is usually a 2 year program that includes advanced training in performance (for performance degrees), music literature and history, music theory, scholarly research, and possibly piano pedagogy (advanced training about how to teach piano lessons).

    • Doctorate of Musical Arts (DMA). The DMA is the most advanced piano performance degree available. Few schools even offer this degree. This is usually a 3-4 year program that includes the most advanced training in music history, performance, scholarship, and musical analysis.

  • Professional Certification. Some organizations offer “certification programs” to document a certain level of professional ability. You should research the requirements for any professional certification program before assuming that the certification is valuable. The most widely-known certification for piano teachers is that offered by MTNA.

Gaining Experience to Become a Piano Teacher:

  • Initial piano teaching experience will probably come from teaching piano lessons to someone while you are still in training (in school or not quite ready to teach piano lessons full-time). This will probably be a personal acquaintance that happens to know you play the piano. These initial exposures to teaching are very important. The wider variety of students you can teach, the better. Younger students (usually ages 6-8) can be more difficult to teach than adolescent students since you have to communicate complex subject matter on a different level.

  • Establishing yourself. Once you are ready to really start building your studio (after you have finished a majority of your education), you will need to find a way to make yourself known to those looking for a piano teacher. This can often make or break your career. “Word of mouth” is traditionally the best way to get new piano students, but this method is unreliable and rarely generates any students in the beginning. Advertising through newspapers can produce some students. An online presence is becoming more and more necessary.

Getting Involved

  • In order to continually grow as a piano teacher, you should become involved in a local music teacher organization such as those through MTNA. This allows you to interact with your colleagues and exchange ideas. It also allows you to “network” which is a very important part of making yourself known to the musical community in which you live.

  • Student Competitions and Festivals. These activities can be very good for most students. They can also be very good for you. They give you, as a piano teacher, a clear goal for each of your students (which in turn requires you to become more adept at assessing how certain students learn and prepare for performances) and also can help boost your reputation among your colleagues (and other parents) when your students do well.