Guidance Needed : LUSENET : Everything About Teaching and Learning the Piano : One Thread

When I was about four years old, I began playing the piano by ear. (I've been told that I'm gifted.) When I was around ten, my mother had me take piano lessons. But I didn't have the patients back then to learn to read notes. I tried a few different teachers but never stuck it out for very long.

I'm now 51 years old with lots of time on my hands and decided to start playing again. But this time, I was determined to learn to read notes and to "play the right way." Over the past year, I've taught myself to read notes and have learned some ragtime songs, Broadway musical numbers and am in the process of learning Lieberstraum.

Now that I've become serious about playing, I want to find a good teacher here in the Ft. Lauderdale area. I'm somewhat of a perfectionist and would like to develope my talent to the fullest. But I'm really not sure what to even look for in a teacher or what type of music to focus on. It seems to me that if I learn to play classical really well, I'll be able to master other music of my liking such as ragtime, popular songs, show tunes, etc. Does this make sense? Any suggestions or guidance would be most appreciated!

-- Neal Millman (, June 14, 2003


Neal, good for you for the great 'comeback'! I can't help you out with teachers, but I thought I'd share with you that I am 50, began teaching myself out of books to play piano about 15 years ago and then stopped for 10 years. I tried a few teachers over the last few years but found that since I was their only adult student, they would be a little frustrated. And I would be VERY frustrated. I too am a perfectionist and put in many hours when I decide to work on something. I guess I never felt they took me seriously so didn't really challenge me. Finally, about 9 months ago, I called the Music Teacher's Association and asked if they could refer me to a teacher who had experience with ADULT students. They did just that and I found a real gem! I just performed in my first recital (yes, with mostly kids and teens) and it was the most rewarding experience of my life. I was challenged, rose to the challenge and in 9 months have now tested at level 6 or 7. I even have dreams of teaching one day and started taking music classes at the local college. So, I'd suggest contacting your music teachers assoc. and ask for teachers experienced with adult. Good Luck!

-- Mandy (, June 15, 2003.

Neal, I forgot to mention that when I first decided I wanted to play piano it was because I loved blues and jazz and pop. The teacher I have is willing to have me play what I want but convinced me that I would learn to play the best techically if I learned Classical. So, I am now playing a lot of classical and always have a jazzy piece or two going too. I have to say, I DO think it will pay to learn classical--many of the greatest jazz, etc pianists were first classically trained. (And another plus: I have fallen in love with classical!)

-- Mandy (, June 15, 2003.

I am a professional jazz pianist and piano teacher. i love teaching kids, and adults who are beginners or who are serious about playing jazz music. I have had a lot of calls from adults who used to take lessons as a kid and want to get back into playing the piano. They decided to call me because I teach jazz and jazz is "fun and easy". Au contraire! Immersing yourself in the jazz idiom and developing fluency in improvisation takes a lot of time, dedication and a love of the music! Most of those adult students quit after not too long when they realized that I only teach jazz as a serious pursuit. Being able to play jazz piano (or funk, latin, even rock) takes a strong foundation in harmony unless you're just reading "jazzy" arrangements. Even then to feel the rhythm you have to listen to that style of music. All this to say that if you want to play music you have to love what you're playing. You should love to listen to that type of music (after all, music is a language - we learn to play from listening). But whatever style draws you in the most you will benefit the most from a strong understanding of harmony and a solid foundation in technique. You can't go wrong with a teacher who emphasizes these things.

-- kate (, June 21, 2003.

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