1. A teacher who treats you as an individual and supports your progress no matter what – It’s a cliché, but everybody learns in a different way and makes different rates of progress. Learning the piano is a difficult but enjoyable process and your teacher should be there every step of the way providing you with appropriate learning material and answering any questions or concerns you may have. Over my 16 years of playing piano I have amassed a large catalogue of pieces and exercises from which I can draw on to help you progress as far as you want to go. 
  2. Lessons in a comfortable environment on a quality instrument – From my teaching studio I conduct lessons on a Yamaha Vienna acoustic piano which is regularly tuned and maintained to the highest standard. There is also a Kawai stage piano with weighted keys should students prefer and also on which I can play through examples of music without the student having to move away from the piano – this helps the flow of lessons. If students should want, I can record sections of audio from lessons for reference outside of lesson later. I have found that many students like this so that they can revise material covered in lesson and make notes. 
  3. Advice on what instrument to buy or rent – Having close contacts in the music retail industry means that I have played many different acoustic and digital pianos over the years. When offering advice on purchasing a piano, I always consider the budget and needs of the player and give a balanced view. We always find an instrument that the student can practise on no matter the price range whether it’s something to get you going or a long term investment in your musical growth. 
  4. An obligation to practise – Sadly, nobody gets good at doing anything once a week. People sometimes ask me “how long will it be until I can play this piece?” and my answer is always “It depends how much you practise!” The good news is that it isn’t just about putting hours and hours of practise in on the piano but instead making sure that the time you do put in is effective as possible. A good teacher will be able to structure an effective practise routine that works around your lifestyle whilst still allowing you to make the progress you want to make. If no practise is done though, then very little or no progress will be made on the instrument. A lesson does not count as practise; it is there to introduce you to new ideas and check on your progress. The real leg-work comes from the student. 
  5. A reliable teacher – This should go without saying but a good teacher will always be punctual and offer frequent lessons to ensure that you always have an expert eye on your progress. 
  6. Support outside of lessons – I am always reachable by email, text or Facebook via my business page (@tomhawkinsmusic) for any questions regarding piano or music in general. Now there is no excuse for getting stuck in your practise – just send me a message and I’ll get that question answered before your next lesson!
  7. A greater understanding and appreciation of music – After a while of playing piano you may find your ear attaching itself to the piano or keyboard parts of a song. You may slowly start finding yourself realising news things about songs you’ve always listened to and being able to analyse music in more nuanced ways than before you played an instrument. Lessons with me always involve at least some music theory and ear training which will let you listen to music in new and exciting ways. 
  8. Opportunities to perform – Your piano teacher should provide opportunities to perform whether they are running those events themselves or pointing you in the direction of third party performances. If the idea of performing on a stage in front of strangers terrifies you – don’t worry, that’s a normal response. A “performance” can be something as simple as playing a piece to a parent, small group of friends or at family gathering. Through gradual exposure and advice on performance technique from your teacher, playing in front of an audience will become a lot less scary. 
  9. Improvements in confidence – Improved ability behind the piano leads to a real sense of achievement, which has been proven to increase our sense of self worth. It should also be said that, if the performance or exam route is chosen, other things such as GCSE exams or job interviews become a lot less scary. Once you have proven to yourself that you can play in front of other people it really shows you you can do anything! 
  10. Time for yourself – Many of my students comment that the time they take to practise during the day is often the best part of their day. Practising an instrument gives you a chance to reach a flowing mental state and shut the rest of the world out whilst working on your personal development. The same happens in lesson as well; the rest of the world gets shut out as student and teacher dive in to the vast world of playing whilst having fun together! It’s true that I enjoy great rapport with my students whilst also having the opportunity to watch them grow musically week upon week.