How to Find the Right Teacher

HERE'S a partial list of places you might check if you're interested in piano lessons: Community music schools. For locations, write the National Guild of Community Music Schools, Box 8018, Englewood, NJ 07631.

Adult-education centers. Programs may include group classes at night or classes for senior citizens.

Piano stores. Dealers may conduct group lessons, have studios on their premises, or recommend teachers.

Music Teachers National Association. This professional group gives out a free directory of certified members. Write MTNA, 617 Vine St., Suite 1432, Cincinnati, OH 45202.

Referrals. Students of good teachers often advertise for them. Ask around.

There are piano-teaching audio tapes, videocassettes, and computer software programs available. They can be helpful, says Tom Long, director of music education at the Baldwin Piano & Organ Company, but sooner or later you need ``a warm body to sit there with you and give you some feedback.''

To find the right piano teacher, it's best to interview the person before signing up, says Mr. Long. Here are some basic areas for discussion:

1.Professional background. What music degrees does he or she have? Does he belong to MTNA?

2.Teaching approach. Has the teacher worked with adults? Adults are not just ``big kids,'' says Long, and the teacher's attitude should reflect this. Tell the person what you hope to learn, and see if his goals mesh with your own. How much practicing does the teacher expect? Mutual understanding from the outset is crucial, he adds.

3.Price. Fees vary widely depending on where you live, skill level, and lesson length. Christine Hermanson of Sarasota, Fla., says many teachers charge $6 to $12 for a weekly, half-hour private lesson. Debbie Adams, who teaches in Boston, charges $30 an hour. Group lessons are often less: The Community Music Center in Boston charges $150 for a 16-week semester.

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