Top Ten Tips for Piano Teachers - General
by Nancy Ostromencki and
John M. Zeigler, Ph.D.
lmost any teacher could come up with a list of favorite ideas and techniques that they use in their teaching. Following is our own list of what we feel are the top ten general tips for teaching piano in a private studio. We hope to follow this list with specific teaching and technique tips. If you disagree with us or would like to give the benefit of your own insight, please write us!
1. Be organized! - Be as organized in ALL facets of your teaching as possible, ranging from billing to repertoire lists to teaching materials for your students. Although it appears to take time away from the lessons, the time you spend getting organized now will make it much easier to give lessons, as well as make a better impression on your students.
2. Consider yourself a professional, worthy of as much respect as would be given to any professional, and act that way at all times. Make sure that your students and parents realize that teaching is your profession. You'll be treated better and your students will progress faster if they understand that you're a dedicated professional.
3. Always be willing and able to learn, learn, learn and then relearn. There is no perfect method that will work for every single student that comes across your path. Take the initiative YOURSELF to do research constantly on different methods. Restudy pieces of music that you learned yourself as a child and see if you have some different ideas about interpretation, etc than you did before. Always be willing to explore music written by 20th and 21st century composers. Your willingness to expand your musical knowledge will benefit your students by showing them that new are not something to be feared, but, rather, something to explore.
4. Keep yourself as active as a performer. Whether it involves playing for a church choir, performing in informal soirees at your home/studio or doing formal concerts, regular performance will help keep you in focus with what your students are experiencing, AND also let your students know that you know what it feels like to get up there and perform.
5. Be willing to speak openly, positively and honestly with fellow teachers who ask for advice, help or input. Much of the negativity that teachers experience from students, parents and the general public is reflected in how we treat each other. If we treat each other professionally, teaching will be improved for both students and teachers. Send referrals to newer teachers in your area, and if you know of a teacher who needs the students, do not hesitate to give their names and numbers as a referral.
6. Get to know other teachers in your area and participate in the activities of local teachers organizations. There is no better way to improve your teaching and re-energize yourself than by talking with other teachers about their teaching.
7. Never, never, never openly criticize another teacher or their method of teaching. This applies to not only your own students and parents, but to anyone else's. We all make mistakes and errors in judgment, but this is something that should NEVER be broadcast to the general public, as it usually ends up reflecting as badly on the teacher offering the criticism as the one criticized.
8. Never accept second best from your students or from yourself as their teacher. You and your student know best what your student is capable of doing musically. Encourage your student to reach for those heights. Let them know that there will be potholes along the way, but that you know that you and your student can reach great heights.
9. Never accept second best treatment from your students or their parents. You give these students your all. You deserve to be treated respectfully, honorably, and well by your students and their parents.
10. Stress continually the importance of your students attending live musical events. So much can be learned by just listening to live music. Professional performance can also be inspiring for the student struggling with learning to play. As a teacher, you can help students by organizing "studio outings" to concerts.