Piano Lessons – Checklist

I’m Registered! Now What?

If you don’t already have a suitable piano, please read my take on what’s necessary for a practice instrument. Once you’ve taken care of that, read on for a short list of items to get to be prepared for weekly lessons.


It’s important that you have either an instrument on which to practice at home. If you have already have an acoustic piano, that’s great. If you have an electronic piano, and want to know whether it’s going to work or not, please share a photo, noting the make and model number if it’s not visible in the photo.

If you are buying an electronic keyboard, please make sure that it has weighted keys. Typically you can only find them in full-sized 88-key keyboards. The Yamaha P-45, the base model in the P series, will cost about $550 plus tax once you add so-called the accessories: bench, full-sized damper pedal, and keyboard stand. Yes, without these accessories, your keyboard will be on the floor! The next model up is the Yamaha P-115, will cost about $250 more. It has a slightly richer sound, and it has the standard three pedals that you would find on most grand pianos. If you’re buying new, and you want to get the best bang for your buck, this is it. In fact, this is the model I would like to purchase to allow me to travel to gigs where there is no instrument.

These are just two examples of electronic pianos meeting minimum standards. I only mention the Yamaha brand by name due to their popularity and solid reputation. There are other acceptable makers at these price points, but they will likely be harder to find. If you don’t want to spend this much, please consider buying used, whether electronic or acoustic. Whatever you do, please don’t buy the 61-key special. Neither of us will be happy!

I would strongly recommend buying an electronic keyboard in person. First, you want to be able to try it out. Second, if there is anything wrong with it, it’s easy to return. Third, low-ball Internet prices will generally not include the so-called accessories mentioned above.

If you’d like a second opinion, read this very informative blog post from Tim Topham, one of Australia’s most influential piano teachers.

Assignment Book

While you can buy a fancy music assignment book for several dollars, any notebook with lined pages will work just as well. These sell for about 25 cents at Walmart during back-to-school sales, and less than a buck at other times.

Three-Prong Folder

There will be some exercises on loose-leaf pages that you will need to have with your books. You can get a really cheap one for as low as 15 cents, but I’d recommend a more sturdy version like the
Mead Five Star Stay Put Pocket Prong Folder. It’s available at Walmart for about two dollars.

Music Books

I will give you a list of books that you’ll need for the semester. I list most of the books I teach from on my Piano Lessons – Books page. In most, but not all cases, piano books are offered for less than the suggested retail price (MSRP) on Amazon.com. If you have Amazon Prime, this is great news! You can even buy used, but try to go for a minimum of Very Good to avoid heavily marked music. When listing scores, if I find that the score prices above MSRP, I note it with an asterisk. In those cases, you can sometimes find a good deal used, or may want to purchase through a local music store.

Last Updated 2018-08-02 | Originally Posted 2018-01-11