The Arts…Who needs ‘em?



“We live in this world in order always to learn, and to enlighten each other by means of discussion and to vigorously promote the progress and the fine arts.”


Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart


“Art is not a thing, it’s a way”.


Elbert Hubbard


“To send light into the into the darkness of men’s hearts, such is the duty of the artist.”


Robert Schumann




Five – six – seven – and point and point hop back two-three, lift two three, lift two-three…




I’m sitting here on a Saturday afternoon listening to my granddaughter’s Irish dance teacher teaching her to do the reel. Why does this make me so happy? Why do we need dance, or music, or art, or literature for that matter? Why?



The world is full of art! Full! Some would even say the world itself IS art. The stars that adorn the night sky. The song of the northern cardinal. The dance of lightening bursting forth from the clouds, the story of humans themselves. You get the picture.



Since the dawn of time, people of every culture, and every corner of the earth have sung, played, danced, painted, sculpted, and told stories. The arts are with us when we celebrate, when we mourn, in times of peace and unrest. The arts make the meaningful times more poignant, they accentuate excitement, and fill lonely mundane hours.



Art is the essence of all that is good about humanity. As Schumann points out it can send light into even the darkest heart. The arts can make even the purest heart purer still.


So be happy teacher, you are an artist. Maybe you’re famous, maybe not. Nevertheless, you are shining light into the darkness,


Not only that, but you are also passing on that torch to the next generation. You are bringing order to the chaotic, replacing fear with beauty.


The arts strengthen the mind, bring joy to the soul, and vision to the future. The arts are about community, and conversation, and dare I say, love. As artists, we love our art and our fellow artists. As teachers, we love our students. Yes, indeed we have something the world needs, the world needs the arts. The world needs music.




If you like this post check out my book

“The Happiest Piano Teacher in Town, Empowering Teachers to Inspire Students”




Words Have Power


I have to warn you that the content of this post may seem like a no brainer for those who are naturally positive people. For others, it may seem a little “sappy” or overly P.C. But, bear with me, I really believe words have power. I have found that some small changes in what I say and think really makes a big difference in my attitude and in my effectiveness as a teacher. It also makes me a happier person and that makes the people around me happier too!


“Whatever words we utter should be chosen with care for people will hear them and be influenced by them for good or ill.”




“You can change your world by changing your words… Remember, death and life are in the power of the tongue.”

Joel Osteen



Words are always with us.


Even when we aren’t speaking out loud, it’s words that fill our minds. Words that make up our thoughts.


Words describe the magnificence of an autumn morning, the sky drenched in amber and red, the wind soft and cool.


Words describe the persistent, pesky black fly that flies at lightening-speed around the kitchen. And makes me flinch as it dive-bombs into my ear.


Words describe the destruction and tragedy brought by hurricanes, tornados, and earthquakes and the delight of a baby’s first shaky steps.



Words can elicit feelings of joy.


“I love you”

“You’re beautiful.”

“You are my friend.”


Or confidence,

“You can do it!”

“You are doing your best.”

“Look how far you have come.”



Or feelings of hope,

It will get better.”

“You can make it.”

“Tomorrow you can try again.”


Words can heal or hurt.


Indeed, words have power.


As teachers, there are two sets of words we must concern ourselves with. The words we say to ourselves and the words we say to our students and their parents. The words we say to ourselves impact how we see ourselves and how we think about our students and our jobs.


The words we say to our students and their families influence how they think and feel about what they are doing. Teaching our students to speak and think positively is a valuable life-skill.



Here are some common things we say and think and how we can shift these words to words that are positive instead of negative.


For Teachers

Instead of saying,

“My job is hard.”



“My job is challenging.”

“I work hard, but I make a difference.”



Instead of saying,

“This student is difficult, annoying or rude.”



“This student is unique.”

“This student is a puzzle I must figure out.”

“This good thing about this student is…”


Instead of saying,

“I am not a good teacher or someone else is a better teacher than I am.”



“I am a caring teacher who is always learning.”

“I am a better teacher today than I was last year, next year I will be even better.”

“I have many strengths; I can work on areas where I feel challenged.”


Instead of saying,

“I am overwhelmed and burned out.”



“I have been working very hard, and hard work is good.”

“I am challenging myself to find more balance in my life.”

“I have a lot to do but I can handle it.”


Instead of saying,

“This parent is difficult or bossy.”



“This parent is very involved with their child.”

“I can find ways to work with this parent.”


When teaching students

Instead of saying,

“This is wrong.“ or “You made a mistake.”



“This part was correct. Here is what we must fix.”

“What did you think of your playing? Are there areas to improve?”


Instead of saying,

“Good job.”



“You played your eighth notes evenly.” (or something else that is specific)

“How did you feel about how you’ve just played?”


Instead of asking,

“Did you practice?”



“How was your week?”

“Tell me what you’ve worked on.”

“What challenges did you face this week?”

“How do you feel about your progress?”


Instead of saying

“You need to practice more.”



“How can you find more time for the piano?”

“When would be a good time for you to practice each day?”

“How are you budgeting your time?”


If a student says,

“This is hard.”


Encourage them to say,

“This is challenging.”

“I will be able to do this.”


If a student says

“Scales are boring.”


Encourage them to say,

“Scales are not my favorite, but I know they will help me become a better musician.”


If a student says,

“I can’t do it.”


Encourage them to say,

“This is challenging.”

“I am feeling overwhelmed at the moment.”

“I can’t do this…yet.”


I hope that I have given you a few useful ideas. I am sure you can come up with even more ways to use words to encourage, build up and heal.


Words have power.

This is true.


Here is something else to keep in mind.

As individuals, we have control over the words we use. We can learn to control our tongues and our minds.


What we can not control is what other people say and think, and at times other’s words can be negative. The good news is that we can decide how we will receive and react to what other people say. We can choose to consider whether what someone says contains truth and if it does, we can make changes. We can decide that what they are saying is unfair and we can let it go. We can teach our students to do the same.


I would be remiss without a special thanks to grief guide Tom Zuba. He’s the one who taught me that words have power. His book and guidance can help anyone going through grief. I am sharing this so that others will know. 

Here is a link to his book “Permission to Mourn”


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For more about positive mindset piano teaching, read my book.

“The Happiest Piano Teacher in Town, Empowering Teachers to Inspire Students”

Make Time Fly While Teaching Piano Lessons

If you never feel bored, tired, burned out while teaching this post is not for you. If you could use a little help to “Make time fly while teaching piano lessons” read on.


What are the first words that come to mind when you think about teaching piano lessons? Exciting?


Action Packed?


Fast Paced?

Maybe, sometimes. But let’s be honest, our job, while super rewarding can be at times, well…you know…boring. There I said it. Teaching music lessons can be boring, especially with students who don’t practice. Especially beginners who don’t practice.

You all know the drill;

“Put your second finger on D” “No D, it’s right next to the C.”

“How many beats does that half note get??”

“The F is sharped, it’s in the key signature.”

Even with the best of students teaching hour after hour can be tedious and tiring. But it doesn’t have to be. What if I told you that I never get bored while teaching? Would you believe it? Well, it’s true. To be honest, I used to sometimes feel like time was dragging while I was teaching. But not anymore. Eight or ten students back to back, no problem. Bring em on, it seems like no time before I am finishing up and heading out of the studio. Even on the days when my students haven’t been practicing.

Continue reading “Make Time Fly While Teaching Piano Lessons”