Piano lessons are not cheap and neither is buying a piano if you didn't inherit one. Even if you did, they must be tuned regularly at a cost of over $100 each time. Keyboards with weighted keys are frequently acceptable alternatives and cheaper than pianos, not to mention easier to move. But the most important choice a student or parent of a student will make is who to hire as a teacher. A bad choice turns a good investment into a pointless waste of money. When the choice is positive, parents don't mind the expense.
Types of Instructors
Students fresh out of college or even high school students raising money for university often offer their services as low-cost tutors in all subjects including mathematics, English, and music. One can engage a teenager to help out and save money. This is a good way to approach music lessons if you only want to learn how to play certain songs on the piano, not become a concert pianist.
Classically trained pianists often become teachers. They usually insist on teaching their students what they learned, following the various grades by the book with the intention of getting their pupils to the point where they would be competent classical pianists in their own right.
Some of these folks, however, see the need for a more versatile approach which accommodates students with a love of music but no desire to hit the concert stage. These instructors recognize that learning to read music complements learning overall. They also consider the ability to read and play notes to be a gift for life, one they use in their own lives to find peace in a hectic day, to entertain themselves, or to bring joy to others.
The rigid instructor will frequently be very demanding. Her ideal student is driven and eager both to please and to succeed. A flexible instructor is certainly ideal for the reluctant student but will also have expectations that students practice at home and meet certain weekly goals until they are prepared to perform at a recital with other piano students in front of friends and family.
An introductory session is standard whether one is trying out a new gym, considering learning about art, or looking for someone to help you learn to play piano. This first lesson is typically free of charge and gives everyone an opportunity to find out if they are compatible with each other. A student and his teacher might get along right away or they could form an instant dislike to each other. It's frustrating to pay a hundred dollars for a few lessons up-front only to discover after a single session that it's not going to work out. Ask a teacher if she offers this kind of introduction free of charge. This could save everyone a boatload of heartache (not to mention money).
It's important that this relationship be a comfortable one. The student is more willing and even eager to satisfy the expectations of an instructor he likes and admires. The teacher doesn't feel ill at ease correcting this student if his attitude is good. Together, they get the best out of a session by creating a positive learning environment. Young people come to associate their days of practicing piano with positive feelings and even grow to love their teacher like a member of the family.
Finally, don't be afraid to at least consider the option of using an online or downloadable tutorial program such as PianoForAll.com. Some of them are pretty good, as you've probably guessed from what I've already talked about here at the site!