A Heart For Teaching Piano Teachers part 2

Here is the second part of last week’s blog post. 

A Heart for Teaching Piano Teachers


Everything has a downside

While it true that sharing and posting is 99.9% fantastic and I learn so much, I can’t help but think of my younger self. The Doreen who’d just graduated from college not feeling so confident. Let’s face it, music school isn’t for the faint of heart. I worked hard, but when I came out I didn’t feel prepared for the real world of the working musician or the piano teacher. Even if I’d had the courage to pipe up and ask a question on social media I surely would have been easily discouraged if someone would have come back with a judgmental comment.

What’s the point?

Actually, this is hard because there are so many teachers. Piano teachers who run the gamut from highly qualified teachers with advanced degrees to skilled teachers without degrees. From those just starting out who really want to learn more to those who don’t want to learn and probably shouldn’t be teaching at all (yes these people do exist, unfortunately).

I am going to take a stand and say that I believe that in order to teach the piano effectively you should know how to play it. You need to have a command of the instrument, be able to read music well, understand how to teach good technique. You also need to be knowledgeable about the repertoire of the genre you are teaching (classical, jazz etc).

I am passionate about this because I myself was negatively impacted by bad teaching as a young person. Suffice it to say that my teacher (who was a very nice man with good intentions I am sure) did not to teach me to play correctly. My parents are not musicians and I was a student who depended upon my teacher to guide me. Thankfully, I found a good teacher who saved the day and set things straight.

That being said, we are all on a journey. Any teacher who cares enough to be trying to improve should be given credit for that. I totally get the whole degree vs. non-degree debate. If you have one you worked your but off for it and probably paid through the nose while you were at it. I know I did. If you don’t have a music degree you may feel as though you can never catch up no matter how much you practice how well you play or how hard you work.

No matter where you fall on the piano teaching continuum we all have the same goal in mind. To pass the gift of music to our students. Why? because we love the piano and we love them.

A Heart for Teaching Teachers

So we’ve come full circle. Who better to teach piano teachers than piano teachers? Who better to set high standards for new teachers than successful experienced teachers? Who better to take our profession to the next level and teach new teachers so that piano education can continue to flourish?

Who better?

No one, that’s our job.

So as they say at Nike “Let’s do it!”

I just started a brand new Facebook group called “Piano Teacher Apprentice”. I need experienced teachers with a heart for teaching teachers to come on board and…well…teach teachers.

I also want to cordially invite new teachers or anyone who wants a safe compassionate place to learn about piano pedagogy. A group where no question is too silly to ask and everyone is respected.

I hope to see you in the group!

Click here to join.

Thanks for reading

A Heart for Teaching Piano Teachers

I remember my very first piano teaching job at a music store in New York. I got the job because my violin teacher and her husband owned the store. I had a degree in music and could play pretty well but to be honest I didn’t think too much about the teaching process. I picked up a method book and did what my piano teachers did, or at least I tried to. I can’t say my early teaching was on the job training because I was on the job but there was no training. It was more like learn as you go and hope for the best.


Today things are different. We have the internet! There are Facebook groups, webinars, books, and all kinds of training on and offline. The best part of all of this is that teachers are the ones actually doing the teaching. Teachers like you and me who open our doors every afternoon and teach piano students of all ages. Real life teachers in the trenches dealing with practicing issues, technical problems, and personality conflicts. Piano teachers who have found solutions to problems and are willing to share them. These very same teachers are coming up with all kinds of Innovative ways to teach the piano and are willing to share those too. How amazing is that?

Continue reading “A Heart for Teaching Piano Teachers”

What Kind of Piano Teacher are You Anyway?

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? 

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 Anyway?”

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.

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!”

Why Do We Need a Piano and What Type Should We Get?

Students need a piano because they need to be able to practice at home. Learning to play any musical instrument is a big undertaking that depends upon regular lessons and daily practice. It takes practice to understand musical concepts and to acquire the coordination and motor skills it takes to become a pianist.

What Should We Get?

There are basically two types of pianos, Acoustic and Digital. First, let’s look at Acoustic Pianos.

Acoustic Pianos are made of wood and have steel strings. An acoustic piano is a great choice if you have space in your home to accommodate one and if you can afford it. Concert artists always play on fine acoustic pianos and almost all pianists prefer them. Acoustic pianos need periodic tuning, however, this is a minimal expense. If carefully chosen and properly cared for, an acoustic piano is an investment that will last a lifetime.

It is important to know that acoustic pianos vary wildly in price, quality and condition. In order to be useful for piano practice, an acoustic piano must be a new or a well maintained pre-owned piano. You must also look for a reputable brand of instrument. Acoustic pianos have over 10,000 moving parts, these parts wear out if not properly maintained. I always recommend that families get help when selecting an acoustic piano. Consult your teacher. He/she can certainly point you in the right direction and help with your piano selection.

Digital Pianos

Digital Pianos are electronic instruments. Digital pianos have a full set of 88 weighted keys. The weights inside the keys make these instruments feel more like acoustic pianos when played. They also have an assortment of different sounds and computer interface capabilities.

Digital Pianos have improved greatly in price and quality over the past 20 years. In my opinion, a good quality digital piano with its own case and bench for proper seating is a good option for families that do not have space and budget for an acoustic piano. Digital pianos also vary in price and quality, so please consult your teacher before purchasing a digital piano.


Keyboards are not pianos and are not acceptable for piano practice. They do not sound or feel like a piano and practicing on a keyboard will be discouraging and will foster bad habits. I would also prefer that my students forgo practice on a keyboard and concentrate on the lessons in “First Four Week Before a Piano” (coming soon) rather than practice on a keyboard. In my 30 plus years of teaching, I have seen that keyboards just don’t work. Piano students need pianos.

There are many many affordable options when it comes to getting a piano. You can rent or buy. Some of my students have even received nice pianos from friends or relatives. The bottom line is that the sooner you get a good quality piano the better.

If you would like free printable music

Free Online Piano Books and Materials

Paloma Piano offers Free online piano books and materials, What are the advantages of being able to print your piano method books?

I have been teaching piano lessons for over 30 years. I have used many different piano methods and most of them are very good. I love to compose music and it has always been my dream to write my own piano method books and music and have them available on line. Here’s why I decided to create free online printable piano books and materials;


It is less expensive to print free online piano books and materials than it is to buy piano method books and music.


Printable music means it’s easy to replace lost music, or reprint music and have a clean copy. You never have to worry about running out of books or not having what you need for your students.


I wanted to be able to add new music without having to republish books. In my thirty-plus years of teaching I have created many resources and written music for my students this is my chance to share with other piano teachers.


I wanted to create a learning a community where piano teachers would be able to share ideas. When you join the Paloma Piano Community your ideas and suggestions matter. We are all interested in what you are doing with your music career. Paloma teachers are made up of  composers and authors, as well as teachers who organize workshops, and run non-profit piano organizations to serve their communities.

What music Paloma Piano members get with a Free Membership?

Paloma Piano features:

The Petite People’s Primer-music for young students

Method Books-skill based progressive lessons

Music Theory


Reading exercises

Lots of great arrangements of folk songs from throughout the world

Original music for beginning through early advanced students.

These are some features of Paloma Piano’s printable piano music you might like.

All of the PDF music and graphics are black and white, to save you and your students money on printing.

The printable method books are each less than 40 pages making printing fast and easy.

New music is being on a regular basis.

Paloma members are welcome to offer suggestions, about the creation of new content.

Members can download and reprint the music for their own students.

These are just a few of the advantages of a printable piano method.



How To Get More Piano Students and Grow Your Studio



How to Get More Piano Students

If you are just starting out as a piano teacher and dream of having a large, vibrant studio: here are some ideas on how to get more piano students.

Piano Teaching is a Great Job!

If you’re looking for a job that makes a difference in people’s lives, it’s hard to beat teaching. Especially private piano teaching. We have our students for a long time, and we teach them something that they can enjoy for a lifetime, or even pursue as a career. But what does it take to have a great studio? Is it even possible in today’s tight economy? Can’t students just learn to play online? Does anyone really want to play at all anymore?
Sure times might be tough, but fear not! – piano players have been around for centuries, and that’s not going to change. People love music and the piano is the most popular instrument. Research shows that music study is excellent for the minds of young and old alike, There is less music being offered in schools, yet parents want their children to be exposed to music. People of all ages are discovering that they can experience the joy of playing the piano, and the best most tried and true way of doing it is with a teacher, like you! So you can absolutely get more piano students.

I have been teaching the piano since I graduated from college. I also worked as a classroom teacher. I decided to leave my school teaching position and open my own studio in September of 2001. I placed some ads and waited for the phone to ring but, of course, it did not. It took a couple of months after the shock of the 9/11 tragedy to get back to focusing on my business but I knew I had to get more piano students to stay afloat.

Here is how I grew my studio from 0 to 45 students in 2 years;

1. I decided what kind of studio I wanted to have. I decided to focus on teaching children and teenagers, beginner through advanced classical music. I wanted a formal style studio with bi-yearly recitals.
2. I wanted to teach at my home and have 40-50 students. I drew up a schedule with time slots waiting to be filled in with the names of my new students.
3. I created a mission statement for my business.
4, I created a website (not nearly as nice as this one** ) and I posted my contact numbers, qualifications, fees, and pricing for the lessons. (I priced the classes competitively, I did not want to be the cheapest, or the most expensive.)
5. I made business cards and handed them out to everyone that I could.
6, I sent a note to local music teachers making them aware of my studio and offering my services as an accompanist.
7. I put ads in local papers. (I would also recommend church bulletins if they have advertising.)
8. I offered a free introductory lesson and I gave a free lesson to students for referrals.
9. Don’t forget to choose a great piano teaching method! Of course I hope you will choose Paloma Piano online piano method.
This is what I did to get started. In another post, I will discuss how to build upon the successful studio.
I would love to hear how all of you teachers got started with your studios. why not leave a comment?


If you would like a free online method to use in your studio,