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How to Be an Inspiring, Successful Piano Teacher

Updated on June 10, 2020
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Audrey's love for piano began at age six. She's a professional pianist for cruises, hotels and community events. Teaching is her passion..

Praise Piano Students to Build Self-Esteem

Where much is expected...much is given as long as you give out plenty of praise and avoid harshness.
Where much is expected...much is given as long as you give out plenty of praise and avoid harshness. | Source

Getting Started With Your Piano Student

In order to fulfill your responsibility as an inspiring piano teacher:

  • The most important factor for any piano teacher is to first, build a trust between you the teacher and the student. If you can't do that - you have no business being in the teaching profession in the first place.
  • You are working with all types of people with different personalities, issues, some talented and some not. You may be the best pianist in the universe. You may hold the highest of degrees in music. You may have the most expensive Steinway Grand Piano money can buy. You may know it all and have it all, but if you lack a love and compassion for others, you will be unable to teach your student the greatest lesson of all - to love himself through learning the piano as another part of himself.
  • Your student will actually "become the music" as he begins his lessons. This happens through creating sounds and moods as each piano key is struck and played. The very heart that beats within the student, ignites with the beat and rhythm of the music itself and becomes one.
  • It is not just the fingers making music, but the body, mind and spirit. The same sensitivity that breathes through the human heart, breathes through the music as he plays the piano.
  • Teaching the student to connect to his own emotions as he plays must be introduced at the very first lesson. He cannot do this unless he trusts his teacher.

Playing The Piano With Feeling

Teach your piano student to trust himself as he plays, connecting to his own emotions.  This inspires him to play "with feeling" and avoid sounding dry and boring.  He becomes "the music."
Teach your piano student to trust himself as he plays, connecting to his own emotions. This inspires him to play "with feeling" and avoid sounding dry and boring. He becomes "the music." | Source

" Love is a better teacher than duty." - Albert Einstein

First Piano Lesson For Beginning Student

From the minute the teacher greets a new student, the lesson begins. The more warmth and kindness, mixed with a professional touch from the teacher, the more confidence the student begins to feel both in himself and in his instructor.

The teacher must take the necessary time to build a "trust" which is vital to the progression of the student. Most students are eager to begin playing the piano. Take just a minute and first give a brief history of the piano in an interesting, short story form, adapting it to the age of the student.

Then immediately allow the student to make music on the piano, before giving the first lesson from the lesson book, by allowing him to play only the black keys, in any order using both hands, alone and together. Confine the black keys to the middle to high part of the keyboard and you, the teacher apply the damper pedal as he plays. It is helpful to him, if you also play at the same time because you can control both the rythm and dynamics as well as patterns.

This is a good way to teach as you are doing so without words. The child is so smart. He will imitate what you do to the best of his ability because he will want to sound like his teacher. If you keep musical patterns simple enough, the music that lies hidden within the child will soon be free and his confidence increased at the beginning of his very first lesson.

This Young Man is Amazing Playing Chopin

Final Thoughts For Teachers

Teaching others is a spiritual calling of love and devotion. I would advise any teacher who is short tempered, impatient or critical to go into another profession.

As a teacher and mentor, you do not have the right to break a child's spirit. If you are in a bad mood or are ill, cancel the lesson until you can give the love and respect your student deserves.

In closing, I will mention a rather "sticky" situation which is how to handle and educate the parent. I meet with parents one on one without the child and talk to them about how they can be supportive to the child and what their role is during lessons and at home. I rarely allow parents or siblings to sit in on a lesson.

The student's attention needs to be directed to the lesson and not distracted by family who may be sitting in on a lesson. Recitals are for families and friends and give the young pianist the opportunity to display his progress.

When a student tells me he feels better after his lesson then when before the lesson, I know I've done my job.

How to Style Your Piano Playing

Favorite Quotes on Teaching

A teacher is never too smart to learn from his pupils. But while runners differ, basic principles never change. So it's a matter of fitting your current practices to fit the event and the individual. See, what's good for you might not be worth a darn for the next guy. Bill Bower

A good teacher, like a good entertainer, first must hold his audience's attention, then he can teach his lesson. John Henrik Clarke

The teacher who is indeed wise does not bid you to enter the house of his wisdom but rather leads you to the threshold of your mind. Kahlil Gibran

A good teacher can inspire hope, ignite the imagination, and instill a love of learning. Brad Henry

The teacher is the one who gets the most out of the lessons, and the true teacher is the learner. Elbert Hubbard

The teacher who would be true to his mission and accomplish the most good must give prominence to moral as well as intellectual instruction. Sheldon Jackson

Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first, the lesson afterward. Vernon Law

The best teacher is the one who suggests rather than dogmatizes and inspires his listener with the wish to teach himself. Robert Bulwer-Lytton

How Was Your First Experience Taking Piano Lessons?

See results

© 2010 Audrey Hunt

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