Making Piano Teaching a Little Easier

If you are reading this post I sincerely hope that you are doing Ok. I hope that you and your family are healthy and that your business hasn’t been impacted badly. But I have heard from more than a few teachers that this COVID pandemic has been problematic.

There is no debating that life has been challenging lately. Who could have imagined at this time last year that so many of us would be teaching online, or trying to figure out how to teach with masks on while social-distancing from our students. The bottom line is that things are challenging for us, for our students and for their parents and for us as well.

Here are some things that make life a bit easier.  I will include links to the products and resources mentioned in this post.

1 – Get comfortable. Look around the house and find a good soft chair. You don’t want to spend three of four hours on your piano bench. Dress comfortably. Sweatpants and slippers are great. Besides, your students only see you from the waist up anyway.

2 – Grab your favorite beverage. I love coffee so I treat myself to a fresh hot cup before I begin teaching. One teacher jokingly said as long as you use a mug, they can’t tell what you are drinking. Pretty funny right? Well still, I think we’d better stick to coffee, tea, and nonalcoholic drinks.

3 – Make it pretty. If I have to be stuck at home teaching. I want my area to look good. So I clean up and decorate nicely. Yesterday, I picked a few roses from my garden and put them on my table. It brightened up the room and my mood.

4 – Invest in the best equipment you can afford. I have a webcam with an over the keys view, a good set of headphones, and an iPad. I also have the forScore app which allows me to screen share sheet music with my student. This makes the online lesson very similar to teaching in-person.

5 – Plan for a mid-lesson break. I almost always take a break mid-lesson to show a three to four-minute video or play a music-related game. The video could be a great performance, a music history lesson, or a cute musical themed video. As far as games go, any music apps can be screen shared or you can print out piano related games and play them with your student online.

6 – Have plenty of repertoire on hand. If you are teaching online be sure to have a nice library of music that you can easily attach and email to your students.  Also, save the links to your favorite books and sheet music.

7 – Go easy. Normally I am the type of teacher who likes to challenge and push students ahead. However, I am finding that I need to go a little easier of a lot of my kids. I think the kids are even more stressed with the current situation than we are. They have had to change the way they learn, and many miss their friends. My students who are transitioning back into school are having a hard time socially distancing and wearing masks. My goals at this time are to keep my students going and make their piano lesson something they look forward to coming to.

8 – Nurture yourself. I really miss playing in ensembles, playing for events and weddings and singing in my church choir. So, I decided to take some jazz lessons, and pick up some new classical repertoire. I know that I need to keep moving forward. I have been enjoying listening to great music and reading as well.

9 – Focus on the positives. I have to say that online teaching has worked out well for me personally. I really enjoy being able to teach from my home. I have also been free to travel more. I have family in South Florida, Cleveland Ohio, and Seattle Washington, it’s been nice to be able to visit and teach at the same time. I have found that many of my student’s parents are also happy not to have to drive to a lesson. My students have become more independent and less driving means less impact on the environment.

10 – Realize how important you are. If you are teaching music, you are really doing something that is special and life changing. I certainly appreciate every one of the people who taught me to play the piano. I love the piano and I love my job!

My hope is that in some way I can help people to be happier and enjoy life more. I really have no idea if or when things will get back to “normal’. I am not sure what my studio will be like at this time next year. But I trust that things will be alright.

Here are links to the things mentioned in the post;

forScore – I love this app. You an import any pdf or you can screen shot music into the app. Once there you can write on the score while doing a screen share on zoom. This really helps when my students need some clarification or help with fingering.

Zoom – it’s the best application I have found for online teaching. It has screen sharing, camera view changing, and many other great features.

Logitech Webcam. I clip it to a mic stand and then students can see me playing.

Bose Headphones with built-in microphone – My student can hear me and I can hear them.

iPad Pro – This little luxury was a bit pricey nut it allows me to have all of my sheet music in one place and I use it to screen share with my students.

IMSLP – Lot’s of free downloadable pfd’s of classical music. – I literally never run out of music that I can download and send to my students. As I see things that my students need I create them, publish them and share them with Paloma’s teachers.

Check out the “Baby Animal Collection” Each piece comes in three versions One with Alpha Notes (letters inside note-heads) Another with fingering numbers to help students play, and lastly one standard version. These days I am publishing music that is easy to teach online and that will keep students moving along in their piano studies!

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