How old does the student have to be to start private lessons?
It is not so much a question of age as it is mental acuity. If a child can count from 1-20 without making a mistake and can add basic numbers together like 2+2 and 3+1 then their brain is ready to accommodate musical structures. The average age of the youngest children is usually around the age of three.
I don’t have a piano, what do I need to start playing?
It is not absolutely necessary to have a grand piano when first starting piano. A beginner will begin by focusing on a relatively small area of the piano. A keyboard with at least 61 keys will accommodate their playing abilities. Make sure the keyboard also has a touch sensitive feature which allows a person to press a key both loudly and softly. There are many used pianos on the market, there are also electronic keyboards that play similar to an acoustic piano. If in doubt, speak with your teacher. Another option is to rent something for a trial period.
How do I choose a good teacher?
There are a number of things to look for when choosing a teacher. The first two qualifications you should look for are personality matching and musical education. You want your child, or yourself to feel comfortable so that any information imparted is absorbed by the student. The next qualification is the biggest necessity. The teacher must hold a degree or degrees in music, and must be certified by an institution. A minimum teacher standard should be at least Grade 10 Royal Conservatory, or a B. Mus from a University. A poorly prepared teacher will only lead the student into a dead end, whereas a prepared and trained teacher will help you discover skills you never knew you had. There are a great many piano teachers around with great varying amounts of training. Going with the best trained can only be helpful to you and give you the best bang for your dollar.
I don’t want to learn theory or read music, I just want to play piano.
It is possible, but at some point you will realize how limited you are in your playing and you will probably quit. Theory is like mathematics and you cannot handle a sale transaction without knowing what is 2+2. Every song ever written has been or will be transcribed onto music to make it easier for you to learn and play. Transcribing complex pieces by ear can take far longer than reading it off of a page. No musician or teacher of any skill would advocate limiting your skill set.
I have small hands, can I still play a piano?
Yes. Most definitely. If a child of two can play piano, then every adult who has functional hands can indeed play the piano as well.
Which is better for beginners, group or private lessons?
Strictly speaking in terms of efficiency, the private lessons are the way to go. They are faster, more conducive, less expensive and far more progressive. A student can ask any question, and get an answer immediately. Once a student understands a concept, they can move to the next idea. If the student is struggling with some part of their education, then they can spend time devoting themselves towards the problem. A private 30 minute lesson can be described as intense in comparison to a one hour group method. Theoretically, if you are in a class with 9 other students for one hour, your share of individual instruction is approximately 6 minutes. Usually a one hour group class also costs about $10 per class which works out to about $1.67 for every private minute of instruction. A private class of 30 minutes costing you approximately $18 means you are only paying .60 cents a minute. If group classes were the model of efficiency, there would never be a need for tutors, private lessons, or assistants. In addition, a private class can be rescheduled, whereas, group lessons cannot. Everyone knows that smaller class size means more teacher attention and better instruction. What is better than one teacher and one student?