The musical life of London is famed across the globe, with some of the most famous concert halls and gig venues in the history of music. Think of the Royal Albert Hall, that prestigious seat of classical music. Or Ronnie Scott’s, the bastion of jazz outside of the United States. Or Fabric, the embattled nightclub that brings audiences from across the globe. This is not to mention the music shops that the city hosts or the musicians that it has produced.
So, if you are lucky enough to live in the city – and have the desire to follow in the footsteps of the greats of contemporary music – you’ll find the artistic and musical sustenance to keep you going. All you need now is a teacher.
On this subject, your opportunities are as varied as London is large – with options catering for young beginners, professional musicians, jazz aficionados or those with a greater appetite for blues and folk, and for everyone in between. People across the city specialise in teaching each of these demographics and specialist styles of music. And, if you just want to sit down and learn a tune or two, you’ll find a teacher for that too.
As we’re talking here about the piano, it’s worth pointing out that you’ll find both private piano lessons and group music classes – and you’ll find a piano teacher focusing on improvisation or one trained in music theory. And, of course, you’ll find some that do everything.
Whilst it’s impossible to cover all of them, here are the best ways to learn to play the piano in London. We hope it helps!
Find a piano teacher and play like Thelonious, one of history’s great pianists.
The London Piano Institute is one of the swankier private organisations offering piano instruction in London, with locations in Mayfair and in the City of London. The Institute provides piano classes to adults exclusively, and, in both locations, you will be personally trained by one of the school’s excellent teachers.
Besides your personal piano lessons – in which you will study whichever course is preferable, from rock to jazz to Latin and improv – you will also have the opportunity to do recital performances at prestigious locations across London and to hear performances from your tutors. This in itself is a fantastic idea, as watching incredible pianists perform is inspiring – and will give you something at which to aim.
London’s City Academy is an adult education centre that offers classes in everything from dance to film-making, acting to stand-up comedy. The thirty subjects that they offer take place in some forty locations across the city – and at times that actually work for you – and each subject is taught by a professional with experience both in the industry and in education.
The piano classes themselves are aimed at different levels. The taster session is designed for the absolute beginner, as it covers the notes and fundamental chords of the piano as well as the basics of reading music.
The Level One and Level Two courses run for six weeks each: Level One teaches posture and the basics of piano theory, including scales, chord progressions, and musical notation; at Level Two, you will start choosing your own learning route, and will start playing solo tunes. Both courses, by the way, are taught in a group.
A similar institution to the City Academy is City Lit, an adult education centre based in Covent Garden. Alongside courses in everything from yoga to literary history, from flamenco dance to criminology, the options for piano and keyboard education at City Lit are a little broader than its competitor above.
Here, you can take courses working towards piano exams, enjoy one-off piano workshops on a specialist theme (from advanced piano technique to a given composer from Bartok to Beethoven), or take specific classes in pop, jazz piano, Latin, or on aspects of harmony. But, at City Lit, the novice will be as satisfied as the specialist musician, with beginner piano lessons starting frequently throughout the year.
Don’t just learn the piano, but find a teacher to help you read music too.
If you would prefer more flexible tuition – in which you are not required to attend a class at a set time each week – a private music tutor might be more your cup of tea. With a qualified and experienced music teacher who can even come to your house, you may well be more likely to achieve your goals on your instrument than if you have to face the faff of traipsing across town to learn.
Superprof’s platform allows students like you to find the piano teaching that suits them best. The site hosts nearly four hundred piano tutors in London, offering lessons at an average of £35 an hour – and, if you would prefer online lessons, there are thousands more to choose from across the UK and the world.
Once you’ve learnt how to play the piano, move onto something else. Superprof now has over a thousand subjects to choose from across the world!
The London Music Academy has been providing north-west London and beyond with music education for nearly twenty-five years. They provide lessons in learning piano for any age, ability, and aim, and they cover everything – as a good piano instructor should – from sight reading to ear training to chords, melodies, and your performance repertoire.
In different studios across London, or in the comfort of your own home, the London Music Academy will give you the education you need to succeed in your instrument.
For ten years, the London Contemporary School of Piano has been giving private lessons from its music studio on Baker Street. Their tuition is a little in demand these days, as they have a waiting list as long as your arm (imagining, of course, that that is quite long) and only a limited number of spaces.
Across the length of a thirty-week or twelve-month course, you will gain knowledge of all aspects of piano playing, from music theory to harmony work – and you will have the opportunity to work with the School’s founder, an expert in improvisation. The school also has experts in classical piano, jazz, and contemporary music, so whatever your niche, there’s a spot for you.
Community Music, or just CM, is an organisation dedicated to providing music education and creative opportunities to all people in London, regardless of their background. It provides courses, events, gigs, and full-time courses in music production and business. It also offers free music tuition in its different centres across the city, for those who may otherwise struggle to gain access to musical opportunities.
Music Space North, CM’s centre in Haringey, provides free singing lessons and lessons on guitar, drums, bass, and the keyboard. The classes take place every Tuesday evening, they are available to all ages between eleven and eighteen, and you will get the chance to perform in front of your friends and family at the end of the course. A really brilliant opportunity for free lessons in the capital.
Greenwich Music School is an organisation in Greenwich and Charlton committed to developing the musicianship of people of all ages – and they are particularly hot on music lessons for children. The early years classes offer exercises and activities in music making to children from nine months to six years – and parents are obviously encouraged to attend too.
Otherwise, courses are available in piano from the age of six, and you can continue your musical instrument training throughout the rest of your life here. For adults, there is also the piano performance workshop, in which you can come and share the pieces you are working on – and listen to others doing the same.
Learn the piano in the heart of London.
For those seeking not only a musical education but rather a fully-fledged career in music, there’s no place better to prepare than at Guildhall, one of London’s best conservatoires. This higher education institution provides undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in music, and you can specialise there in your preferred instrument.
If this for you is the piano, then, during an undergraduate degree, you will receive one-to-one piano tuition with some of the best piano teachers in the country – as well as masterclasses with visiting performers who will show you the tricks of their trade. Combined with this, you’ll have music theory, musicology, and composition modules – and there’s the concerto that you will have to perform in your third year.
If you are serious about piano, this might be the best decision you’ll ever make.
If you’re not a Londoner but are interested in piano lessons, check out our guides to piano lessons in Manchester, piano tuition in Birmingham, Leeds’s piano opportunities, and piano teaching in Glasgow. We also have an article on the UK’s best piano tuition options too.