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#1978913 - 10/26/12 01:37 PM Beginning teaching - tips, suggestions?
bellamusica Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/07/10
Posts: 369
Hi everyone!

I have recently graduated with my masters, gotten married, and moved to a new city (exciting times)! People in the city (well-established but still fairly small) are finding out that my husband and I are both classically trained pianists, and we've had a lot of folks ask us if we teach piano. My main interest is performing (I like playing gigs, accompanying for people's lessons and recitals, etc.) but I have always assumed I would start teaching as well at some point.

I have a grand piano, but right now we are in an apartment where we can only have an electric keyboard, so my grand is staying at my parents' house some 70 miles away. frown So if I were to teach, I would either need to travel to the student's house (assuming they have a piano...) or look into a music store in town which offers studio rental space for teachers. Our apartment lease runs out in about 5 months, at which point we are hoping to rent a small house where we can have the grand.

My other concern is that, while I have a bachelor's and master's degree, they are in performance, not teaching. I really don't have tons of experience with teaching although I have done a little bit here and there. I guess I'm not really sure where to start! I know I need to come up with a contract, studio policies, rates, etc. If I'm going to start teaching I want to do it in a professional and business-like manner, which is why I was hoping to put it off until we are able to have my grand and we can have a real studio set up in our home.

So my questions are, 1) what sort of things do you include in your contracts? (Cancellation/sick day policies, method/time of payment, rates, up-front costs such as method books, practice expectations, anything else?) and 2) would you advise for me to wait until we have our grand piano, or should I try and start these students as soon as possible?

Any other information, advice, or suggestions are welcome, too! smile

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#1978988 - 10/26/12 04:34 PM Re: Beginning teaching - tips, suggestions? [Re: bellamusica]
IPlayPiano Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/08/11
Posts: 97
Hi, Bella. I am just like you (minus the master's degree). I recently graduated with a BA in music performance and while I love to gig and perform I have found myself swamped in a studio of 30 students.

For the business side of things I use a program called www.musicteachershelper.com and it is amazing. It takes care of all the financial/scheduling/repertoire/billing/accounting side of things. I could not run my studio the same without it! It's 29.95 a month and is WELL worth it. For a studio policy, I simply googled other teachers and read their policies. I have learned to lean on the side of caution and protect yourself (the teacher) before "being nice" and cutting breaks for students. I am talking about things like refunds, make-ups, etc.

As far as the actual teaching part goes, maybe it's just me, but I actually found that teaching piano is not as "common sense" as I had assumed it was. I had never taken a piano pedagogy class before and really didn't know what I was getting into. MinnieMay (a user on this forum) recommended a book to me called The Piano Teacher's legacy which is a FABULOUS collection of pedagogy materials that has revolutionized my teaching and my studio. I am finding I have better success with my students and I am enjoying teaching a lot more this year than I did last year as a result of this book. Good luck!

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#1979002 - 10/26/12 04:57 PM Re: Beginning teaching - tips, suggestions? [Re: bellamusica]
Brinestone Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/06/10
Posts: 350
Quote:
As far as the actual teaching part goes, maybe it's just me, but I actually found that teaching piano is not as "common sense" as I had assumed it was. I had never taken a piano pedagogy class before and really didn't know what I was getting into. MinnieMay (a user on this forum) recommended a book to me called The Piano Teacher's legacy which is a FABULOUS collection of pedagogy materials that has revolutionized my teaching and my studio. I am finding I have better success with my students and I am enjoying teaching a lot more this year than I did last year as a result of this book. Good luck!


AMEN! I am now in my fifth year of teaching, and when I look back to my first year, I cringe at some of the things I did wrong. I am grateful to the students who were willing to stick with me during my learning curve. I also wonder which things I do now that I will cringe at in four more years. It's hard work, and it takes a love of children and teens as much as a love of piano to do well. I'm lucky that I actually had a degree in teaching, just not particular to piano.

I will check out The Piano Teacher's Legacy. Thanks for the recommendation!


Edited by Brinestone (10/26/12 04:57 PM)
_________________________
Piano teacher since 2008, member of NFMC

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#1979027 - 10/26/12 05:39 PM Re: Beginning teaching - tips, suggestions? [Re: bellamusica]
bellamusica Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/07/10
Posts: 369
Thank you for the advice! I'll definitely look into that software - it sounds like it could really help out a lot.

I took a few pedagogy classes during my undergrad but they were mostly focused on intermediate students. I'm still a little overwhelmed at the thought of teaching someone from the very start! I'm planning on going to the local music store today to browse through some of the various method books and get an idea of what's out there. smile

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#1979039 - 10/26/12 06:05 PM Re: Beginning teaching - tips, suggestions? [Re: bellamusica]
Minniemay Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/09
Posts: 1702
Loc: CA
You can read method evaluations online, too. Check out piano teachers' resource pages (a google search on piano method reviews will yield you some info).

I would start by accepting intermediate students and work from there. Beginners are the most difficult students for an inexperienced teacher. Do some pedagogy reading and find a couple of local teachers that would let you observe their lessons with beginners. You might find a really helpful mentor that way.

I also highly recommend joining the local music teachers association. You will find a treasure trove of advice and help there.

And do order the Piano Teacher's Legacy. I reread it every once in a while to remind myself of what's really important. There's also an excellent book called "Questions and Answers" by Frances Clark you might find helpful.
_________________________
B.A., Piano, Piano Pegagogy, Music Ed.
M.M., Piano

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