Top Ten Ways For Teachers To Remain Motivated


by Jenny Simaile
Goonellabah, New South Wales, Australia


t's easy to lose focus and motivation in the daily grind of giving piano lessons in a private studio, but it doesn't have to happen that way. In this list, I've assembled by best tips for remaining motivated in your teaching. Although no job is ever 100% fun all the time, I think that following these tips will help most teachers enjoy their work more and be more effective as teachers. Most of them are easy, and even fun, to carry out, especially the "take holidays" part!



1. Have a career plan.  Set goals for the short term, the mid term and the long term, and then work out ways in which you can achieve these goals.  Also, have goals for personal fulfillment, studio growth and needs of students.  Review your goals frequently.

2. Don’t be isolated.  The sense of being all alone can be crippling for private music teachers. Get to know other teachers in your area. Form your own ‘teacher’s club where you can get together and discuss problems and strategies.  Even if you are the only teacher in your town, you have access to hundreds of teachers through the Internet.  Subscribe to music teaching newsletters, magazines, participate in music education forums. The encouragement and support you can get from other teachers cannot be underestimated.

3. Join a  private music teacher’s association. It is usual to receive the association journal - some annually, others up to four times a year – with information on workshops, seminars, lectures, competitions, master classes, festivals and other community events, sometimes including social occasions.  The journal will also usually include articles to improve your teaching, reviews of latest music and technology and musical analysis.  Some offer scholarships or information on scholarships.  

4. Participate in workshops, attend lectures and seminars about piano pedagogy.  Always look for ways to improve your teaching.  Update the resources you use, look into new methods, buy new music, read composer biographies, study music history. Always strive to increase your musical knowledge.

5. Keep your own life as a musician to the fore.  Take lessons yourself (even with another instrument), enroll in master classes.  Join the local choir, get involved with a jazz group or some other kind of ensemble playing, advertise as an accompanist for other solo instruments, including voice.  Give your own recitals, or sometimes play at the student recitals you organize for your studio. Compose your own music, arrange other’s music, learn how to produce or record.

6. Join a Piano Teacher’s Guild, organized to stimulate better teaching and provide opportunities for your students to be evaluated by other professionals.  Most piano guilds also offer awards of excellence to piano teachers. Being involved with competitions/exams can give you specific goals and direction in your teaching.  Examples of organizations are the National Guild of Piano Teachers, Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music (U.K. -, The Australian Music Examinations Board (

7. Organise performance opportunities for your students.  They may be formal recitals, with written invitations and program, piano parties just for students to play in front of each other, concerts at local nursing homes, or at local community events.  Strive for variety and interest.  Arrange different venues, set  a ‘theme’ for the recital, e.g., “Chocolate” parties where everyone has to dress in brown or white and bring anything chocolate to eat and drink afterwards.  A duet night, where students are assigned to perform together, or a mystery afternoon, where the students won’t even know WHAT they will have to play or WHEN  – their name and a piece they’ve learned in lessons gets drawn out of a hat by each student.   Variety is the spice of interest.

8. Know your limitations.  Don’t take on more students than you can successfully handle. Don’t put up with bad situations when it’s in your power to do something about it.   Know when to send an advanced student to a different or more qualified teacher, if your knowledge and skills can't keep up with the student's progress. Keep a balance between your career and the rest of your life.

9. Take holidays.  Vacate.  Rejuvenate.

10. Smile -  especially on days when you don’t feel like it.  It is your responsibility to find something in THIS lesson AND the next lesson to smile about.

Page created: 4/14/04
Last updated: 01/30/15
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Reprinting from the Piano Education Page The Piano Education Page, Op. 10, No. 1,
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