Learning to play a musical instrument is one of the best gifts you can give yourself. It's a brilliant way to explore your creativity, it can help broaden your social circle, and it's even been shown to alter the structure of your brain.
But it also requires discipline, perseverance, and — often — a sizable chunk of your disposable income. That's why it's so important to choose the right sort of music lessons. Whether you're a maestro in the making, or you're just looking for a new hobby, here's our pick of the best places to learn piano in London.
London Piano Institute
What's good about it? London Piano Institute was created especially for adult amateurs, with a focus on nurturing real passion for the piano (especially if traumatic childhood lessons put you off!) Here you'll receive the highest quality instruction in classical, jazz, popular, blues and rock styles one-to-one or as part of a group, though individual lessons are recommended for more experienced pianists.
When? Weekly 30, 60 or 90 minute slots for a minimum of three months.
Where? 21 Fleet Street, EC4Y 1AA/ near Park Lane (Mayfair)
London Contemporary School Of Piano
What's good about it? This piano school uses an innovative 'harmony method', teaching technique before you start to read music. London Contemporary Piano School offers a range of flexible lesson options — book a one-off discovery session, power through a crash course, or commit to a few dozen lessons over the course of a year. Fair warning, spaces are very limited, and you may have to endure a wait list.
When? The school is open Monday to Saturday, though exact times vary.
Where? Lessons run from Blüthner Piano Centre, 6 Baker Street W1U 3AA
What's good about it? The stunning setting, for a start. WMKT London boasts some really gorgeous piano studios (think fresh flowers, gilded mirrors, a velvet chaise-longue), as well as state-of-the-art instruments. But there's more to WMKT London than old world glamour, with highly professional and adaptable teaching, plus exclusive concerts performed by the school's teachers and network of artists.
When? A wide range of lesson slots are available — the studio is open Monday to Sunday, 9am-9pm
Where? 40 Kensington Hall Gardens, Kensington W14 9LT / 79 Brisbane Street, Bermondsey, SE5 7NJ / 20 Lucey Way, Camberwell
Sokol Piano Academy
What's good about it? All ages and skill levels are welcome at Sokol Piano Academy. Lessons are taught by highly qualified professional pianists — many of whom are prize-winning — and the academy's eye-watering fees reflect this prestige. Former students include Simon Pegg and Ryan Gosling, who studied here in preparation for his Oscar-nominated role as a jazz pianist in La La Land.
When? Timetables vary teacher-to-teacher, but the studios are open seven days a week.
Where? Sokol Piano Academy has studios in Hampstead, Edgware Road, Chelsea, Marylebone, and Earls Court — details here.
East London Piano
What's good about it? Here's another option that boasts celeb alumni: both FKA Twigs and Little Boots have taken lessons at East London Piano. The school offers high quality yet affordable music tuition for both children and adults — hour-long group lessons start from £22 per person. All tutors are members of the Musicians’ Union/Incorporated Society of Musicians.
When? Classes run seven days a week
Where? 6 Westgate Street, Hackney, E8 3RN
Kensington Piano Studios
What's good about it? Kensington Piano Lessons boasts a 100% ABRSM exam pass rate, with 87% of students achieving a merit or higher. All ages and abilities are welcome, and you can choose to pay per term, per month or as you go, according to your needs.
When? The studio is open 9am-9pm, Monday to Friday and 9am-4pm on Saturdays
Where? Warren House, 63 Warwick Road, Beckford Close, W14 8TT
London Music Academy
What's good about it? London Music Academy offers lessons for beginners of all ages, as well as intermediate and advanced classes. It also runs singing courses, should you wish to become a multi-instrumentalist.
When? Pick your prefered times here and see what's available in your area.
Where? Teachers are available all over the capital — some will come to your home, others may invite you to their studio space.
Fireworks Music School
What's good about it? The chance to play on a Steinway grand piano, for a start. That's if you choose to go to the music school's central London studio for your lesson (it's a tenner cheaper to take instruction from your own home, but you'll need to cover your tutor's travel costs). Fireworks Music School handpicks its teachers "from the best music conservatoires in the world", so you should be in safe hands.
When? Fireworks Music School is open 7 days a week, 9am-9pm
Where? Piano lessons take place at a studio in Great Ormond Street (enquire for precise address), or from the comfort of your own home.
What's good about it? If you're an aspiring polymath, City Academy could be the place for you. Pick another course alongside your piano lessons and save 10% (or 20% if you've got enough stamina for three courses). During your beginner lessons, you'll learn to play duets and ensemble pieces, as well as solos, so it may appeal if you're looking to socialise as you learn.
When? Classes take place on Tuesday and Thursday evenings, with courses lasting six weeks.
Where? 38 Rosebery Avenue, Farringdon, EC1R 4RN / St Marylebone School, Marylebone, W1U 5BA
What's good about it? City Lit offers a huge variety of piano and keyboard classes up to Level 5. Choose between intensive, one-off workshops and programmes that last several weeks. For more advanced pianists, specialist sessions are available on harmony, improvisation, and repertoire.
When? Class times vary, but generally run on weekday evenings and Saturday daytimes.
Where? 1-10 Keeley Street, Holborn WC2B 4BA
Join a Meetup
What's good about it? It's not a substitute for formal lessons, but joining a Meetup group can be a great way to get some piano practice in on the cheap while socialising with other aspiring musicians. This group meets at a school in Chelsea and helps nervous performers boost their confidence by playing in front of a small, supportive audience of fellow pianists. Your £7.50 fee goes towards the upkeep of the school's music department.
When? London Adult Piano Learners meets on the third Wednesday of every week
Where? Meetups can take place anywhere, but the best we found tends to meet at a school in Chelsea
Practise in a station
What's good about it? Here's another way to get prepped for your first public performance: treat your fellow commuters to a tune or two on a Platform 88 piano. Located at various London Underground and mainline railway stations, these instruments are totally free to play. Also, since there's no teacher who may feel professionally obligated to keep you motivated, maybe you'll get some (brutally) honest feedback.
When? Whenever you like, within station opening hours. But be prepared to wait (and potentially pale in comparison to whichever maestro happened to play before you)
Where? At the time of writing, we've spotted these at Tottenham Court Road, Canary Wharf, and King's Cross St Pancras, and Stratford International.
Look out for a Learn to Play Day
What's good about it? Not quite sure whether the piano is for you? Try a free a taster lesson! The charity Music for All organises annual Learn to Play events up and down the country, where you can try out your instrument of choice for free.
When? At the time of writing, the next annual play days are Saturday 28 and Sunday 29 March 2020.
Where? Various venues in London and around the UK.
Still looking for the right fit? Check out the London Piano Teachers directory or London Music Teachers directory — each have a large pool of freelance piano tutors to get you tinkling those ivories in no time.