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  • Writer's pictureAlice Christodoulidou

Taking Piano Lessons vs Self-Taught: Which Is Better?

A man playing the keyboard

If you want to learn how to play the piano, you might be wondering whether to teach yourself or to find a piano teacher. Both routes have their pros and cons, and the best choice largely depends on your personal circumstances, learning style, and goals. Let’s take a closer look at both options.

Being Your Own Piano Teacher

It’s entirely possible to teach yourself how to play the piano, and many people have done so successfully. However, it’s important to be aware that this route can be particularly challenging.

Music Theory & More Music Theory

The foundation of most piano lessons involves learning to read music, which includes understanding the names of the notes, how they correspond to the piano keys, and what they look like on paper. This knowledge is essential for understanding music theory, which in turn is crucial for knowing how to play the piano, not just how to play songs on the piano.

The Challenges

Being your own piano teacher means you will encounter problems and challenges that you'll have to overcome on your own. Many students who initially taught themselves found that they had to re-learn most things when they eventually decided to get a teacher. This was not because they were bad teachers to themselves, but because it's easy to overlook things when you're focusing on so many different aspects at once.

Common Challenges Faced by Self-Taught Pianists:

  1. Poor body posture

  2. Incorrect sitting position

  3. Poor hand/arm posture

  4. Not playing in time

  5. Little or no technique

While there have been many great and innovative pianists who were self-taught, not everyone will find success this way. With so many things to focus on, having a piano teacher to correct your behaviors before they become habits can be incredibly beneficial.

Investing In a Piano Teacher

While bad habits and other problems won't magically disappear when you have a piano teacher, having one can make your piano lessons less frustrating and can lead to faster progress.

The Role of a Piano Teacher

A piano teacher can provide things that you can't get when you're teaching yourself:

Personalized Feedback: Your teacher can see things that you don't see and provide feedback that is tailored to your unique needs and challenges.

Motivation and Encouragement: Having someone knowledgeable to ask for advice or to encourage you when you get frustrated can make a big difference.

Structured Learning: A teacher can provide a structured learning plan that covers all the bases and helps you progress in a logical and efficient manner.

Cost Comparison

While hiring a piano teacher does involve a financial investment, it's important to consider the value you're getting in return. A teacher can help you avoid developing bad habits, provide personalized feedback, and help you progress faster. This can ultimately save you a lot of time and frustration in the long run.

Success Stories and Failures

Many great pianists were self-taught, but there are also many who benefited greatly from having a teacher. It's important to consider your own learning style, goals, and circumstances when deciding which route to take.

Psychological Aspects

Having a teacher provides a sense of accountability, encouragement, and a structured learning environment. These psychological benefits can make a big difference in your progress and enjoyment of the learning process.


While it's definitely possible to teach yourself how to play the piano, having an experienced piano teacher can provide many benefits that can make the learning process less frustrating and more efficient. Ultimately, the best choice depends on your personal circumstances, learning style, and goals. Consider all these factors carefully before making a decision.

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