What You Need to Teach Piano Successfully
Most of my readers probably don’t know that I teach piano. I like to call myself a writer, but in truth I’m a lot of things. And one of those things is a piano teacher. I don't have a teacher's license, and therefore can't be called a "professional piano teacher," but for some reason people still seek me out (without me advertising) to teach their children music. I love to share what I know about music, and teaching kids (and adults) how to play the piano has a lot of rewards. Of course, I’ve been burned out several times before, and I know that teaching piano can be difficult.
Teaching piano doesn’t need to be all that difficult though. There are some things that you need to remember, that you need to keep telling yourself, if you ever want to see success from teaching piano. I’ve gathered from the harvest of my mistakes and deficiencies, and what I’ve reaped is a little experience. We all learn from our mistakes. So, here is what you need to have if you want to teach piano successfully.
Music for Little Mozarts is a good series to teach very young children
When I say you need imagination, I don’t mean that you should become Peter Pan and fly away. Imagination means the ability to see outside of the box. When teaching piano, there will be many opportunities for you to get trapped in a ditch, the ditch of one-way thinking. Teaching requires at least two people: the teacher and the student. You need the imagination to reach out to the student where he or she is. Sometimes you might need to put the book away and just tell a story.
Obviously, if you want to teach piano, you need to know how to actually play the piano. If you are an experienced pianist, you might need to refresh yourself on the basics of playing before you start to teach. Remind yourself about the order of learning. Before you are able read a book, you learn how to recognize the letters. In piano, before you can play a masterpiece, you need to learn the basics of piano, from fingers to keys to notes.
Teaching anything takes patience, but teaching piano takes an extra measure. There will be times when little Jimmy will be more interested in kicking the bottom of the bench than in putting all five of his fingers in perfectly curved order. There will be times when Mrs. Jennings will want to talk more about her twenty-five amazing grandchildren than about how tempo relates to expression. There will be times, and you will need to breathe deeply, smile, and say what you need to say over and over again. Patience is a hard-earned virtue, not something you’re born with.
You need to think positively when you teach piano. There is always a sunny side to look at; you just need to find it. Sometimes your student will get discouraged if he can’t accomplish something new right away. You need to encourage him, and help him to try harder. If your student is depressed that he can’t play a certain phrase without stumbling, praise how good his posture is or how wonderful the rest of the piece went or how great his determination is.
I have used the John W. Schaum series to teach elementary and middle school children
Teaching piano takes a lot of time and effort. There is no easy way to do it. Take time to prepare yourself before each lesson, reading up on what you are going to teach. Each lesson will be same amount of time, but the rate of speed can alter a great deal. Sometimes a student will surprise you and speed through a lesson. Other times, you will need to take slow time to teach a student one small principle. Take the time to make it work.
One of the hardest parts of being a piano teacher is getting organized. Organization is very important however if you want to be successful. If you teach from home, make sure your piano studio is clean. If you travel to your students' homes, make sure you are punctual. Keep your schedule written down, not in your head. Keep track of how much people owe you.
Never forget that you are the teacher. You are the one in authority. Yes, you can be friends with your students. In fact, I encourage you to do so. But never let the student take over the lesson. In a sense, you need to have your hands on the steering wheel at all times. Treat yourself with respect. If you do not act like a teacher who knows what he or she is doing, the student will not listen to you or respect you. Be professional in the way you act.
Kindness is key. Your attitude changes the whole atmosphere of a piano lesson. Be sure to smile, to let your student know that you are on his side. There are teachers that hold to a law of structure and boundaries. Structure and boundaries have their place, but if a student is so scared that he is uncomfortable, he won’t enjoy learning to play piano. And if he doesn’t enjoy learning to play piano, he won’t enjoy playing piano and another musical soul is lost.
Read more by Rose West
- How to Teach Piano to Young Children
Children aged four to six can be challenging yet rewarding piano students. Learn how to approach a lesson with young students, creating a fun learning experience.
- How to Teach Piano: The First Lesson
The first piano lesson can be very intimidating for both teacher and student. Everyone knows how important first impressions are, and no one wants their first piano lesson to go badly. The piano teacher...
- How to Teach Piano: Note Recognition
Teaching piano is like teaching a new language, only instead of words and sentences, there are notes and symbols and lines. As with learning a new language, it may be take music students a long time to be able to read notes proficiently...
You might consider the Bastien series
- Review of Bastien Piano Books
The Bastien piano books series bring fond memories to me of my early lessons using these books. I would examine the colorful pictures of children and notes, play the "Chocolate Cake" song with my mouth...