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#1365579 - 02/04/10 01:08 PM Teaching Students how to Teach
michiganteacher Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/21/09
Posts: 71
Loc: Michigan, United States
Hi everyone,

In the fall I will be expanding my studio to a larger space and hiring several teachers to work there. I have a 15 year old late-intermediate/early advanced student who I have been working with for several years. He has made an excellent student (one of my most exceptional, actually) and I have been tossing around the idea of hiring him to teach beginners at the studio in the fall.

I like this idea for several reasons:

1. I know that he understands good technique and generally has a solid education
2. He is mature, responsible, a hardworker, and very good and patient with children
3. He is passionate about music and is interested in teaching
4. He is already familiar with my system and format of lessons which I would like to implement at the new studio

A few downsides:

1. He has advanced at a really rapid rate, but has only been taking lessons for about 4 years total
2. He has zero teaching experience
3. He is young

I have several questions for you:

1. Based on this information, do you think this is a good idea?
2. If so, what steps do you think I should take to prepare him for this? I have thought about having him observe some of my lessons with beginners I am starting in the summer. I can definitely walk him through materials and have him read books. I can also have him read through discussions in this forum. Any other ideas?

Thank you so much!
Jessica S.

Piano & Music Accessories
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#1365597 - 02/04/10 01:28 PM Re: Teaching Students how to Teach [Re: michiganteacher]
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
Since it's your enterprize in your studio to hire teachers, you need to oversee what is being taught and how your teachers are teaching it. Or, maybe you and others would not agree with me on this.

Hiring several teachers must mean a student base of 100 or more. This is not small effort. Are you going to be the head teacher in charge of curriculum and guaranteeing an educational outcome, like a "school"? Or is this more like a fill the schedule and the facility to the max and everyone is on their own as to what happens there? There are various objectives in having teacher services located in one place. Are teachers of other instuments going to teach there? Are you hiring only credentialed teachers with experience and will have an interview process with your prospective teachers? What are their needs of you?

About the young man, he especially needs your supervision and leadership in learning how and what to teach before he goes out on the floor and works with someone.

He needs to know how to start a beginning student in music. He needs to be aware of his students as "clients".

Does he know you are considering this?

How is he going to present himself on paper to your clients - I assume you consider them all your clients and the teachers are your employees - or are you renting space to teachers and have no say in what happens in their teaching. I wouldn't like that for myself if I were doing the same as you - which is now in the planning.

You need to have a plan that works for the first year for you. Knowing your objectives is important. I once read an article that advised that you have an exit plan in place before you start your business, otherwise you will not recognize when things are going "downhill" - how will you turn those things around? You need to be attentive to the business demands and to the teaching structure.

I would not just set him loose and see what happens.

I would encourage him to take his teaching tryout very seriously and I would put him into a teaching piano lessons program that I'd develop for his individual needs based on who he intends to teach (age/level of the student)for which he was accountable to me. He would be a paying student in his regular lessons and a paying student in "learning how to teach piano".

That's what comes to mind at the moment. And it simply reflects the way that I would think if this were my projected ambition for myself.

Please tell us more about your plans!

Betty Patnude

#1365664 - 02/04/10 03:02 PM Re: Teaching Students how to Teach [Re: Betty Patnude]
MordentMusic Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/12/09
Posts: 56
Loc: Windsor, Ontario, Canada
I guess it depends on your area. A few years ago it was common for "kids" to teach with little or no experience of teaching or even playing, and the parents dind't mind because everyone was always upfront and honest, saying "i'm a beginner teacher only" and there were more advanced teachers available once they couldn't handle a student anymore.

But now, in this same area, ALL the teachers, even the beginner ones, have at least their Grade 8 RCM, most have MBA's, or higher RCM levels.

It also depends how much you're charging. If your lessons are 20$, I wouldn't be inclined to have a 15 year old teacher with litttle experience, no matter how good...

These are just my opinions. It's hit an miss, but you're the one who knows him best, so use your best judgement smile
Mordent Music - Offering Piano and Music Theory Lessons in Windsor, Ontario

#1365665 - 02/04/10 03:04 PM Re: Teaching Students how to Teach [Re: Betty Patnude]
michiganteacher Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/21/09
Posts: 71
Loc: Michigan, United States
Thank you Betty! Interesting ideas and thoughts.

To answer a few of your questions...I have been wanting to start a piano teaching school since I was in highschool. My idea is not to rent space and fill it with teachers and students to do their own thing, but rather to supervise the education of the students and teachers as you have mentioned.

I have been preparing for this for years. I have been teaching piano since I was 14 (I am 24 now) and graduated with a bachelors in piano performance this past May. I started teaching students who came to my home for $5 a lesson when I was 14, then was eventually hired at age 18 to work in a church studio where I myself first took lessons. I worked there Mon-Thurs throughout college and gained experience and started forming ideas of my own.

As soon as I graduated in May of '09, I launched the "Novi Piano Academy" in my home. Business was slow in the summer, but by September and October, word-of-mouth kicked in (with the help of a generous referral bonus I offered!) and I now have all my slots filled Mon-Fri. Part of this quick growth is, I believe, due to the demographics of the area. I consider this Phase I of my plan, and am now ready to begin Phase II in the fall.

I have read numerous business books and have already paid for a weekend studio teaching business conference this summer with Sam Beckford. My father has business experience and is also an accountant - he is very interested in what I am doing and has already helped tremendously.

There are several things I am doing in my studio here that I consider to be contributors to the success of the studio - an interactive computer lab, a listening/music appreciation program, organized format, stocked binders I give to each student at the first lesson, an award program for those interested, multiple recital opportunities, a spring practice competition, etc. The general idea is to provide a well-rounded, holistic piano learning experience. The higher rate and formal policy have drawn some magnificently serious students. I would like to implement many of these ideas into my larger studio in the fall.

Because I have developed a fairly comprehensive program, I will have to train all my teachers and supervise them. This is partially why I like the idea of hiring this student. He is familiar with the program and my ideas. I am also quite aware that this is a bit of a risk. He is representing me and my studio, and I need to be careful he is amply prepared.

I have talked to him briefly about the possibility of him teaching some beginners in the fall, and he was very intrigued by the idea. He is a homeschooled, Christian young man with strong character and I know he would take this endeavor as seriously as any other in his life.

Of course, I am aware that all of his good attributes do not substitute for good old teaching experience! I can still remember some of my first students and the things I taught them...

So that's really where the dilemma comes in.
Jessica S.

#1365670 - 02/04/10 03:10 PM Re: Teaching Students how to Teach [Re: michiganteacher]
michiganteacher Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/21/09
Posts: 71
Loc: Michigan, United States
Thanks MordentMusic.

The lesson rate now is $25 per 30 minute lesson, and I am planning the same (or higher) for the larger studio in the fall.

Of course, the instructors will not keep all of this, but still, the clients are paying the same price regardless of the division between the business and the instructors.

So, you're right. I am really not sure how I would handle that. Maybe I could start him off with one or two beginners at the full rate (just because it looks more professional for all the lessons to be at the same rate!) and observe some of his lessons and see how it goes. I'm just not sure how I charge a different rate for lessons from only him.
Jessica S.

#1365685 - 02/04/10 03:30 PM Re: Teaching Students how to Teach [Re: michiganteacher]
Elissa Milne Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/11/10
Posts: 1337
Loc: Sydney, NSW, Australia
I think the value a parent receives from a beginner teacher as compared to an experienced teacher requires a different approach to setting fees. It might seem unprofessional to charge different rates for different teachers, but it looks like a rip-off to charge full rates for someone who is on a steep learning curve themselves. This will be an issue for you whether you work with this 15 year old now, or next year, or with any other novice teacher.
Teacher, Composer, Writer, Speaker
Working with Hal Leonard, Alfred, Faber, and Australian Music Examination Board
Music in syllabuses by ABRSM, AMEB, Trinity Guildhall, ANZCA, NZMEB, and more

#1365690 - 02/04/10 03:39 PM Re: Teaching Students how to Teach [Re: Elissa Milne]
michiganteacher Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/21/09
Posts: 71
Loc: Michigan, United States
Elissa - I think you're right.

I guess I like the idea of hiring younger teachers because they're more pliable. They aren't already set in their teaching ways (not that there is anything wrong with that!) and are open to guidance and direction. I am looking for pliable teachers so that they will be open to my visions and ideas.

But of course, with younger teachers come less experience, and you're right, a different value.

Perhaps I could set up some type of teacher's learning program that charges less?

Thanks Elissa.
Jessica S.

#1365737 - 02/04/10 05:17 PM Re: Teaching Students how to Teach [Re: michiganteacher]
Elissa Milne Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/11/10
Posts: 1337
Loc: Sydney, NSW, Australia
I haven't set up the kind of studio you are looking to establish, but I have worked in a kind of supervisory way with younger teachers on occasion...... What we did was charge a considerable amount less that I would have been charging, but more than the novice teacher would have charged working alone. The parent understands that their child is being taught by a student teacher, and therefore pays less, but has the benefit of knowing that an experienced teacher is overseeing the education of their child.

And of course, after a few years (not just one or two!) the student teacher is 'worth' much more.
Teacher, Composer, Writer, Speaker
Working with Hal Leonard, Alfred, Faber, and Australian Music Examination Board
Music in syllabuses by ABRSM, AMEB, Trinity Guildhall, ANZCA, NZMEB, and more

#1365750 - 02/04/10 05:42 PM Re: Teaching Students how to Teach [Re: Elissa Milne]
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington

I can see that as you started teacher young (14) you would be more willing and encouraging of advancing students starting to teach. As MordentMusic mentioned grade 8 (RCM) is a starting place for teaching in her community. In my studio, I considered teaching 2 students to teach as they are considering becoming music specialists in public schools at this point and they had more than 6 years of study with me, but both girls have fallen in love with their band programs (percussion and frenchhorn) both to the point of being selected for the (by audition) regional percussion and wind ensembles. One is also composing now. Teaching piano is not holding their interest and they stopped piano lessons in 2008. I consider that they would easily be candidate for teaching piano if they should choose.

You speak as well of your young piano student as I would of "my" girls. I think it's a good idea as I said in the first reply to "school" him as to teaching before he actually does. I think it will be necessary support and confidence building for him. I would limit the number of students he sees and perhaps buddy him up with the same gender.

It's great to hear about your background and your plans!

I expect you to thrive! Congratulations!



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