How to Prepare for Your First Online Piano Lesson

Beginner piano player taking a free trial online piano lesson at home

Although piano is a common instrument to study, it is helpful to know how to prepare for your live online lesson. We asked our piano teachers to help advise future students on how to prepare for lessons and share their best tips for playing piano.

Piano vs. Keyboard

Experienced educator Dawn Linebarrier explains, "It is not important whether the student has an acoustic piano over an electronic keyboard for lessons. There are pros and cons to each, but these pros/cons do not hinder the student from being able to learn to play the piano. Factors that help decide which a student has include finances, available space, availability of a local piano tuner, goals of the student, and more."

Professional Pianist Grace Mehm advises, "In my opinion, either a piano or keyboard will work for beginning students. Of course, having a 'real piano' is always the ideal, however it's not always practical for the student. Especially with online lessons, a keyboard gives you more options with your setup for lessons."

It is important to discuss your instrument access before beginning lessons. Many teachers are open to assisting students with different set ups, but some are particular about the supplies their students use. Composer and instructor Rob Kovacs simply states, "It’s important to have one or the other - a piano or a keyboard. They both feel different but either is sufficient to learn the instrument."

Getting Set up For Your Live Online Piano Class

The top set up tips from Lessonface piano instructor, Bev Cashin focus on your setting up your camera correctly and having a good internet or wifi connection. It is important to set up the camera angle from your computer, laptop or phone so the teacher can see the keyboard and the student, or at least the student’s hands. It is also important to have an upright seat to sit on that aligns with your playing and having a desk light helps to brighten the screen view for your teacher to see you, your hands more clearly.

With a good seat comes good posture which will help with your hand positioning on the piano keys. It is always good to start with clean hands, and having short fingernails are a bit easier way to start playing too. Plus, dress comfortably. Lessons usually last around 30 minutes to start, so wearing comfortable clothing that is not a distraction and allows you to move your arms and stretch is best.

Figure out a practice schedule! Practice, practice, practice. Organizing and creating a schedule of knowing when you like to practice is important to have that is in addition to your lesson time. Do you like to practice a little every day or once a week? Figuring out how much time you want and have is key and allows for a stressful and relaxing way to enjoy playing.

Start with a Trial Lesson

The number one "supply" you need is your own desire. Let your piano teacher know what kind of music you want to play. What are your music goals! The teachers are here to support you. "If you want to play jazz piano but we don’t know that, we may not focus on covering material that helps you" says piano teacher Kati Falk-Flores  who teachers music theory, voice and piano.

It is best to come to your first lesson to meet your teacher, see if you match up and it is a good fit. This is your lesson and you must be happy with the teachers teaching style. With an online lesson it is easy to take a trial lesson and explore first to find the best match for you. Being online makes it as simple as connecting and coordinating a 15-minute trial run. Many of the teachers of Lessonface offer trial lessons. Matching style and type of music you want to play, from classical to jazz, pop or rock with be all you need to get started.

In the way of physical supplies for your first lesson, teachers unanimously agreed that pencils and an instrument are all you really need for the first lesson, and that no other supplies were necessary right off the bat.

Background Knowledge

All of our teachers at Lessonface agree - there is no background knowledge needed to begin piano lessons. Ferlito beautifully states, "Students need more of a desire than any knowledge. Many of my best students have started from scratch not even knowing where any of the notes are and unable to play anything. But they want to learn how to play something and grow and that is the gas that makes music education go."

Mehm also encourages adults to begin lessons, "This notion that students need to know anything about the piano or music before starting lessons, I think, is one of the main reasons adult students are hesitant about starting lessons. As long as you have a piano/keyboard and the desire to learn, you're ready for lessons. Everything else will come with time and practice."

Songs for Inspiration

Kovacs loves playing and improvising on the classic Maple Leaf Rag by Scott Joplin.

Ferlito is inspired by the emotions in Moonlight Sonata by Beethoven.

Steeves enjoys working on Chopin's Mazurka in A minor.

More About the Piano and Keyboard Teachers Featured on Lessonface

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