Empowering Teachers to Inspire Students
This is the introduction to my newest project. My Book! “The Happiest Piano Teacher in Town” It will be published soon at Amazon
You know what’s hard about piano teaching? I do! Does the following sound familiar?
“Put your second finger on A.”
“How many beats does the half note get?”
“Play staccato please.”
What about the excruciating experience of teaching students who never practice? Ugh! And then there are the excuses piano teachers frequently hear from their students:
“I didn’t practice this week because…
“I had a birthday party.”
“I couldn’t find my book.”
“My mother (father, sister, brother, aunt, cousin, or cat) wouldn’t let me.”
Sitting hour-after-hour in a chair focusing on what someone else is doing—much of the time repeating the same things over and over. Plus, there are a host of other challenges that accompany piano teaching like starting work when the rest of the world is finishing up their day. (This is a big challenge for those who are parents and have kids in school.)
Add to all of that:
Preparing students for performances, festivals, and recitals
Organizing recitals so that parents and students get to the right location, at the right time and come away happy.
Getting paid on time
Dealing with challenging parents and caregivers.
Setting boundaries with people who want you to do “just one more thing”?
And those pesky make-up lessons.
Far too many people don’t even consider piano teaching a “real” profession. They say things like, “So, you’re a piano teacher. Is that like…a real job?”
In speaking with other piano teachers, I find that many of the problems we face are universal to the profession. (Yes, it is a profession!) I know many teachers who work hard and put on a happy face day after day but who are feeling overworked, underpaid, and under-appreciated. Some may have actually have considered quitting altogether. Even teachers who generally love the teaching part of their jobs can sometimes feel discouraged when faced with challenges of running a viable business and dealing with our customers (students and parents).
Maybe you are there right now. Perhaps you are questioning whether or not you should keep teaching. Or maybe you just feel kind of bored and discouraged and are looking to recapture the excitement and joy of teaching piano.
I totally understand. I have been at this job for over 35 years. I remember days when I considered throwing in the towel. One sunny summer day, in particular, five out of six parents called to cancel at the last minute. (I guess the beach seemed like more fun) I remember thinking, “I need to find a better job. Maybe a real job.”
Some time ago, I organized a recital at a local theater only to have the theater director forget to unlock the doors. There I was, on a 90-degree day with sixty parents and children all dressed up and waiting in the parking lot. I certainly considered quitting that day.
But I don’t feel like quitting anymore.
In fact, I love my job. Really! I can’t wait to show up every day. I enjoy teaching my students. I am so glad to see their smiling faces as they bounce into my studio. The teaching time flies by, and before I know it, I am wrapping up for the day and preparing to head home.
So what did I change? Almost everything!
For starters, I changed my perspective. I began to see myself as someone important. Not “just a piano teacher,” but a coach and trainer who impacts students by passing along one of life’s greatest joys: music. I am giving students a tool they can use in almost every area of their lives in the years to come. Students are not just learning theory; they are learning discipline inexorably mixed with creativity. They are learning the value of practice that leads to perfection and the self-confidence and self-esteem that comes from accomplishing a difficult task.
The next thing I did was to take stock of the things I was really good at and begin to focus on building on my strengths. I decided to do the same with each of my students. I began looking, in an intentional way, at their strengths. I took on the responsibility of motivating my students—developing strategies to reach and inspire each and every one.
I also started taking better care of myself as a teacher and as a person. I committed to eating better and exercising a bit. I gave myself permission to rest and recharge. I allotted more time for family and friends so that I could enjoy the people who matter most to me. And I stopped criticizing myself for my past failures. Rather, I focused on ways I could improve moving forward. As a teacher, I realized that my passion is also my business. So I committed to running it like a business. I set clear expectations for the families I worked with and drew boundaries with them.
I revamped my entire program. I did my research and carefully constructed a “Teaching Blueprint and a Studio Policy” that I could feel great about—one that would work for me, and be fair to my students and their families.
What happened after that? Everything about my work transformed! My whole outlook changed. As a result, my students’ outlooks changed as well. Practicing habits improved, lessons became more fun, and parents were happy.
I did it, and I know you can too.
Note: In this book, I will use the term “studio” to describe the group of students that an individual teacher works with. Regardless of whether you teach at home, travel to student’s homes, or work for a music school or other business, your studio is your students.
I’ll show you, step-by-step, how I got my students to love practicing, how I got parents to start bringing kids to lessons on time, and how I implemented and enforced the Studio Policy. Once you take these simple but powerful steps, your students won’t want to quit taking lessons. On the contrary, they will bring you, new students!
To be fair, I didn’t figure this out overnight. I have been teaching piano lessons for over 35 years. As a private piano and vocal teacher and certified K-12 music teacher, early childhood teacher, and choir director, I have worked with literally hundreds of people of all ages from preschoolers to senior citizens. Getting people fired up about making excellent music is what I do. It’s what we do!
Exciting, isn’t it?
I promise not to disappoint you. I won’t just give you tips and tricks or feel-good platitudes. I will give you concrete ways to create a joy-filled, highly energized and extremely productive studio. I will show you how to create your own Teaching Blueprint, including crafting a Studio Policy and creating a Mission Statement. I will tell you how I manage to motivate my students to practice more. I will also cover ways to take care of yourself, set boundaries, and reclaim some time to do the things you love.
Why spend one more day struggling, or just feeling blah about piano teaching? Read on. Grab hold of a new perspective—a positive perspective—and put the joy back into your job so that you can be the happiest piano teacher in town.
Read the post “Love Will Keep Us Together”
There is so much more to the “The happiest Piano Teacher in Town” I hope you will like it. As soon as it is published I will let everyone know.
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