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So you’re thinking of taking lessons from a second piano teacher. Regardless of your reason for doing so, you’re wondering if it’s a common thing to have two piano teachers at the same time, what are the pros and cons of having 2 teachers vs 1?
Having a second teacher specializing in the piano genre you’re interested in gives you deeper insights to play better. You’re also exposed to more music and different techniques. However, the different teaching methods may contradict each other and you may have time management issues.
In this article, I’ll give you some reasons why you may want to have two piano teachers, as well as some reasons why it may be better for you to stick with only one.
I’ll also discuss some things you should do before getting another piano teacher, and at what point in your piano journey should you consider getting a second teacher.
Reasons you may want to have 2 piano teachers
There are 4 reasons why you may want to consider getting a second piano teacher:
You want to get better at playing a piano genre
There are many different genres of music within piano: classical, jazz, pop, rock, etc. Each of them is different from the next and requires a unique skill set to play it well.
For example, classical music places heavy emphasis on the proper finger and arm techniques, while for piano jazz, being able to improvise is more important.
This is why if you’re interested in one particular piano genre and want to dive deeper into it, learning from a teacher who’s specialized or has a lot of experience with that genre is very beneficial. Experience can come from teaching that genre, playing that genre for a long time, or performing on stage.
By learning from one specialized teacher, you will get the deepest and best insights exclusive to those that have mastered a genre that will elevate your playing to the next level.
You will also get helpful tips that the teacher picks up or develop from playing that genre for a long time. These tips will make it easier to learn and practice the genre you’re interested in.
As the saying goes:
A teacher who knows every piano genre means that they have a broad knowledge but don’t have expertise in any one particular genre. And while it may be enough at the beginning, at some point, once you explore a genre deep enough, you’ll hit a wall since your teacher can’t offer you any deeper insight because of their limited knowledge of the genre.
Your current teacher is only good at one aspect of piano
No person in this world knows everything. The same is true for piano teachers. They may be good in one area but not as good in another. And maybe that “another” area is the one you’re interested in and want to focus on.
This is why it can be a good idea to get a second piano teacher that can offer what you want to learn as supplements while continuing studying with the first piano teacher, because you enjoy learning under your first teacher or you don’t want to bother with changing the learning system you’ve set up too much, and thus don’t want to entirely switch to the second teacher.
An example is that your first teacher can focus on techniques and sight-reading, while your second teacher can focus on improvisation.
Know which teacher is better for you
You may want to have two piano teachers test out which teacher is more suited to your circumstances, be it your playing ability, learning speed, or life circumstances that determine how much time you can commit to the piano.
You may decide to learn from two teachers for a couple of sessions and compare them to see which teaching style you like better and think will help you better. From that, you can decide which teacher to drop.
Furthermore, if your finance ever becomes tight and you can’t afford to have 2 teachers anymore, spend time studying under both for a while to see which one you like more and let go of the other.
Exposed to more music and ideas
Studying from only one teacher can make you narrow-minded since you are exposed to only one way of teaching and learning.
Each piano teacher has their own unique set of skills to offer, thus by having two piano teachers, you’re exposed to different ideas, playing styles and skills where you can pick the best options to apply to your playing.
By having two teachers, you expand your horizon and view on music, giving you inspiration and ideas in your playing of the piano.
Reasons why one piano teacher is enough
Here are three reasons why you may want to stick with only one piano teacher:
Piano teachers can teach different genres or skills
Although there are differences between the genres, at the end of the day, they’re all played on the piano. This means that a lot of the skills while learning in one genre can be transferred and applied to another. All genres require good postures and techniques, some level of sight-reading and improvisation, as well an understanding of music theory.
This also means that teachers who have a lot of experience with the piano tend to know different genres and have multiple skills like sight-reading or improvisation.
Thus, you can learn what you want from whatever amount of experience your teacher has. Let your teacher know about your interest and see if they can accommodate your request. You may find that what they have to offer is good enough to satisfy you for the time being.
Time management issues
Two teachers mean double the workload. Each teacher will still expect you to put in the same amount of time and effort playing their repertoire, regardless of what the other teacher has given you. This means you will need to spend more time sitting at the piano to practice.
While practicing is good for improving, we all have our other responsibilities to fulfill and can’t simply spend 5 hours a day practicing the piano – not that anyone wants to unless you’re passionate about the piano.
Thus, you may find it difficult to spare more time to practice piano when getting a second piano teacher. Personally, with just learning from one teacher, I have enough things to work on and practice for the whole week: scales, triads, and piano pieces. I practice all of these every day for 1 hour to prepare for the next lesson and find that it works with my schedule nicely.
By having two teachers, you may do both tasks half decently, compared to focusing and learning from only one teacher.
Conflicting teaching methods
Each teacher has a method of teaching that they believe to be best for helping students progress. Sometimes, different teachers’ teaching methods may contradict each other. For example, one may want you to play the octaves with the arm, while the other wants you to do so with your wrist.
However, this doesn’t necessarily mean one way of teaching is right while the other is wrong. Both methods can have their pros and cons. It’s just like math, there are multiple solutions to the same question.
But this disagreement with teaching methods can confuse you as the student. You won’t be able to know which method to follow and if you choose to follow one, the other teacher may disagree and force you to follow their methods.
So it could be better to stick with one teacher to avoid this potential headache.
Things to do when getting a second teacher
Let your current teacher knows of your plan
Except for birthday surprises, most of the time, people don’t like surprises since they are unexpected and they don’t know how to react. A piano teacher may not appreciate it if you one day suddenly say to them: “oh yeah so I got a second teacher”. They may feel insulted because they think that you don’t consider their teaching to be good enough and that’s why you’re getting another teacher.
This is why it’s important to talk to your current teacher about your plan, and why you want to get a second teacher. You may find that a second opinion is helpful. Also, you may be able to find out that your current teacher can offer what you want to learn. You just didn’t know this because you never thought of asking them.
Also, if possible, once you get a teacher, it can be a good idea to set up communication between the two teachers if they’re okay with it. This makes sure that the teachers are on the same page and work together to give you the best learning experience with the piano.
They can work out any disagreements in teaching methods, making it a win-win for everyone involved and avoiding any problems in the future.
Fit two lessons into your schedule
You don’t want to fit the two lessons too close to each other within the week since you won’t have time to practice for the next lesson. For example, if your lesson with teacher A is on a Monday, having a lesson with teacher B on Tuesday is a bad idea since you only have one day to prepare. Have a lesson on Monday and the other on either Thursday or Friday.
If you don’t have enough time to practice at home, consider alternating between different teachers for each week, you can have a session with teacher A for this week and then one with teacher B for next week, alternating like that.
When practicing, practice both repertoires from both teachers every day, and avoid practicing only one to prepare for the class that needs it. Try to create a routine to practice every day, it makes it easier to sit down and practice.
Practice sessions don’t have to be long, you can practice for only 15 minutes per day. But you must practice every day. It’s better to practice for 15 minutes every day rather than 2-3 hours for one day and then do nothing for the rest of the week.
When should you consider getting a second piano teacher?
You shouldn’t consider a second teacher at the beginning of your piano journey. It’s better to have one teacher to make it easier to focus.
After getting decent at one genre like classical, then you can think of branching out to other genres like jazz and getting a second specialized teacher. How “decent” do you need to be before branching out? Using the RCM program (Royal Conservatory of Music), you should be at least level 8 before trying your hands at another genre.
At this level, you’ve mastered the basics of piano playing and you can use those skills you learned to make it easier to transition to different genres.
Of course, ask your current teacher first if they can teach the genre you want to learn to avoid the hassle of finding a second teacher.