16 Qualities of a Good Piano Teacher part 1

16 Qualities of a Good Piano Teacher

“Where love is deep, much can be accomplished.”  Shinichi Suzuki

I saw a post on Facebook today where a colleague was asking what makes someone a good piano teacher. This is a really, really good question so, I thought I’d spend a little time musing about the matter. I am a piano teacher, I’ve studied with lots of (about 10) piano teachers, I know lots of piano teachers, and I raised 5 boys, four of whom became accomplished musicians, I guess you could say I have seen the issue from many sides.

Before I begin I must admit that there are few items on the list that I could stand to improve and I’ve been teaching since 1984! So if you feel like you fall short in some areas. Join the club! None of us are perfect. After all, you have to leave some room for improvement..right? lol.

This list is the ideal. Something to think about and work toward. You are taking the time to read this post. Which means you care. In my book that makes you a good teacher already!

Here are some traits I think make for a good piano teacher:

  1.  Strong musical skills. I want a teacher that knows how to play. This is a little tough to unpack because not every good teacher is a great concert artist, and not every great concert artist can teach but I believe that a solid knowledge of musicianship, technique, theory, and repertoire is essential.
  2.  Some performance experience. This may be a bit controversial but the fact is that music is a shared art. Sharing music means playing it for other people. Being able to get up in front of an audience of any size not only takes courage but it involves careful preparation and a level of focus that must be developed and taught. I believe a good teacher is able to play for others and can teach students how to perform.
  3.  Dedication to continual personal advancement in both music and pedagogical skills. A good teacher is a lifelong learner. Someone who seeks to maintain and build upon the skills that they have and add new skills related to music, piano playing, and teaching.
  4.  A love of music. Learning to play a musical instrument is not the easiest thing in the world. Music, (unless you are a Rockstar) is usually not the most lucrative career either. We begin our training as children and must continue to practice daily throughout our lives. Therefore, I think it’s important that we love what we are doing.
  5.  An understanding of how people learn. No two students learn the same way. This makes teaching both interesting and challenging. A good teacher can connect with each student in order to help each one the grasp concepts necessary to achieve success.
  6.  Presents information and skills in a logical and beneficial sequence. Learning to become an accomplished pianist takes years. A good teacher knows what to teach and when to teach it. This is especially important once a student is beyond the method books. To be able to select material that will help a student advance while building a firm musical foundation requires a comprehensive knowledge of the repertoire and piano pedagogical materials.
  7. Can motivate students to learn, practice, and play correctly. Day in and day out, year after year. A good teacher can keep students going even when they really want to quit. A good teacher knows how to inspire students to pursue excellence even though excellence is hard work.
  8. Sets clear attainable goals. Both short-term weekly goals and longer-term goals. This means providing specific practice instructions weekly. Longer-term goals could include recital, exam, competition preparation, or a list of music to be learned and other skills to be completed within a determined period of time.

Well there you have it, 8 qualities of a good piano teacher.

Wait a minute!

Didn’t I say there were 16 qualities?

Yes, but I’ll post the rest next week so stay tuned

If you like this post, consider reading the book “The Happiest Piano Teacher in Town, Empowering Teachers to Inspire Students”

Still trying to Please Everyone? Stop it You Can’t

I had almost forgotten.

It’s been a little while since I’ve been hit with a dose of negativity. Things have been going pretty well lately. I got a job at a studio I love and I’ve picked up quite a few students in my home studio too. All of them happy. Parents, students, everyone’s been really great! Full of compliments and tidings of goodwill. Still trying to please everyone? stop it you can’t.

Until yesterday.

Yesterday…I got the worst email I have ever received from a parent, ever! (and for me ever is over 30 years).

Here’s what happened.

Continue reading “Still trying to Please Everyone? Stop it You Can’t”

What Kind of Piano Teacher are You?

What Kind of Piano Teacher am I?

Take the Quiz below


I my last blog post “Still Trying to Please Everyone? Stop it! You Can’t” I describe an incident with the parent of a prospective student. This particular parent questioned how and why I teach the way I do. This got me to thinking, why do I teach scales and arpeggios after my students have learned to read music? Should I include more technique? Are my music theory books good enough? Am I strict enough? I find my self-asking myself, “what kind of piano teacher are you anyway?”

Something New Every Week

It seems as though every week I come across some new teaching idea. Some way of doing things I hadn’t thought of before. Just last Friday I went to a lecture on piano technique given by Nancy Bachus, whoa!! I thought I knew a lot about piano technique. After hearing her, I think to myself there’s definitely room for me to up my game on that front. I wonder what else I can improve.

Then there’s Facebook. So many cool things, great music, and awesome opinions. It literally makes my head spin (OK not literally). But it can be overwhelming, and at times I find myself questioning my teaching. What kind of piano teacher am I anyway?

What Kind of Piano Teacher am I?

Continue reading “What Kind of Piano Teacher are You?”