Top Ten Tips for New Piano Teachers

The following is part of a presentation shared recently by Janna Williamson, a music teacher in Illinois, with a group of pedagogy students. I was able to read her notes from the meeting and thought what she had to share was excellent. She has given me permission to post from her notes here, so I hope to include several posts, chock-full of great tips for new and experienced teachers alike! Enjoy!

Top Ten Tips for New Piano Teachers
By Janna Williamson, NCTM
Wheaton Yamaha Music School

10. Read good teaching magazines (Keyboard Companion, Clavier, etc.)

9. Encourage your students to perform regularly, and provide them with developmentally appropriate performance venues.

8. Research all the teaching material out there – and use the best.

7. Join a piano teachers’ email list. It’s an unbelievable wealth of practical and pedagogical information. (I love the one I’m on – visit it here.)

6. Join the local piano teachers’ organizations in your area to stay connected with and learn from other teachers near you and take advantage of the performance opportunities for your students. [Natalie’s note: visit this page on MTNA’s website to find a local association in your area.]

5. Interview students and their parents before teaching them. Only take the ones that actually want to learn how to play the piano, and whose parents will abide by your studio policies and are doing this for the right reasons. It is better to have fewer students who genuinely enjoy lessons than more students who you will have to “cut” later on.

4. Know your strengths and limitations. Teach the ages, levels, and materials that you’re comfortable with. Don’t be afraid to tell a student that you’re not the right teacher for him or her.

3. Don’t just be a good teacher – be a good administrator of your studio. Have a good studio policy, and stick to it. Stay in regular communication with your students and parents about payments due, upcoming events, and progress being made.

2. Teach your students to be well-rounded, independent musicians, not just people who can play pieces on the piano. Include sight-playing, music theory, ear-training, and music history in every lesson. Encourage independent learning by giving your students these skills.

1. Demand excellence from your students. Insist on regular attendance, good technique, regular practice, completed assignments, and overall good musicianship from all of them.

[Natalie’s note: For several other great Top Ten lists, check out this page on the Piano Education Page website!]

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