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Topic Options
#962279 - 01/21/04 10:46 PM What should I study?
annabell Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/21/04
Posts: 39
Loc: New Hampshire
I am looking for ways to teach myself how to teach piano to beginning students; children. I have been approached by a group of homeschooling mothers about teaching piano to their children. Many of them have studied the Suzuki Piano method, which I have never encountered. I am a fairly accomplished pianist; nonperforming. There are no other teachers in our community except for the Suzuki teacher who is a violinist.

I am looking for books to study to prepare me for this venture.

Thank you.
annabelle (correct spelling)

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#962280 - 01/21/04 11:08 PM Re: What should I study?
iteachlifeskills Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/21/04
Posts: 23
Loc: Toronto, ON Canada
Hey, Cobalt;

Welcome to the music teaching ranks! I've been a full-time private music teacher since 1972 and I am every bit as passionate about it as I was when I started at age 18.

I was a top performer in my school back then and when I enrolled at Lowell State Teacher's College in Massachusetts in the fall of 1971, the school where I took my own private music lessons hired me as a teacher. It was a great setup because I was already well-known in that school.

I honestly had NO IDEA what I was doing during my first few months of teaching. But I LOVED PEOPLE and quickly developed an enthusiastic style that my students just loved.

I graduated with honors earning a Bachelor of Music Education degree in 1975. However, I really learned "How To Teach" during my first few years on the job. I did a lot of trial and error, and implemented many programs that kept the students excited and motivated.

Unfortunately, other teachers at the school were not as impressed as many of their students were asking to transfer to my schedule.

In time, I left to start my own school.

I have since had students of my own who wanted to try their hand at teaching. My first question to them is, "WHY?"

Most say they think the money is better than flipping burgers at Mickey D's.

I tell them, "WRONG!"

If you don't have a PASSION and ENTHUSIASM for what you are doing, then you will end up like many of the staff teachers at my old school... just waiting for the end of the week to collect their pay; wondering why their students want to jump to another teacher!

What should you study?


And continue to study and hone your own playing skills. Actually, you will find that when you start teaching, especially beginners at the most basic level, your own playing will automatically improve since you are constantly reinforcing strong fundamentals.

But be a PEOPLE person first. Make people your PASSION. You will figure out EVERYTHING ELSE you ever need to know.

And if you find you do need some extra help and advice, I'm just an email away.

Good luck and once again, welcome to the club!

From cold and snowy Toronto,

#962281 - 01/22/04 04:42 PM Re: What should I study?
annabell Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/21/04
Posts: 39
Loc: New Hampshire
I was hoping for textbook recommendations but am finding the posts in the forum invaluable. I have learned a lot since yesterday. Thank you.
annabelle (correct spelling)

#962282 - 01/22/04 11:09 PM Re: What should I study?
iteachlifeskills Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/21/04
Posts: 23
Loc: Toronto, ON Canada
One of my philosophies is that I don't teach music... I teach people.

If you are looking for texts, I would highly recommend 'people-based' personal development books; classics such as Dale Carnegie's "How To Win Friends and Influence People" and books of that nature.

The old axiom is still true today, "People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care."

Do everything you can to take care of the people side first and foremost. The rest will take care of itself. This should be obvious, because if you REALLY CARE about others, you will do whatever you can to improve YOURSELF, and that would necessarily include your technical skills.

I would suggest continuing your own studies - either formally or through your own exploration. At least find yourself a good mentor who can offer some advice based on years of personal experience.

But first, get into those 'People' books. They will serve you better than any pedagogy book I have ever seen.

Feel free to write me directly with any specific questions you may have regarding teaching. I love to 'talk shop'! \:\)

Warmest wishes from cold and snowy Toronto,

#962283 - 01/28/04 08:44 AM Re: What should I study?
The Laughing Cavalier Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/28/04
Posts: 39

I'm not a piano teacher (except unto myself,) but I have found this site very useful:


It was put up by a Mr. Chang. In it he explains the fundamentals of piano playing in a very progressive and logical way.

I have for his method very helpful in my playing and I imagine it can be used beneficially by a teacher for his/her students.


PS I forgot to mention when I posted earlier that Michael Aaron Piano Course, Primer to Grade Five is something that my kids use and they find it pretty informative.

#962284 - 02/06/04 02:36 PM Re: What should I study?
btb Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/21/04
Posts: 4264
Loc: Pretoria South Africa
Hi Cobalt,

Your piano-playing skill must be pretty good (or else you must be very good-looking) for home-schooling mothers to want you to teach their children. Your location sounds slightly off the map but is obviously an unusual challenging venture.

What Russ is trying to say (in amongst all that homegrown Carnegie advertisement) is that it's one thing to have a skill - it's another to put it across. But he is so heady with passion for the urban crusade that he's given cavalier treatment to your enquiry about books to get started with your piano teaching effort in the sticks.

Do you still have your original piano lesson books? Not a bad place to start - to remind you of your own introduction to the keyboard. Covering old ground will build confidence.

If you are self-taught then the very music that you selected at the time should prove an excellent starter. Why not use this music as the initial framework around which to build your advice on learning to play the piano. Books on the elements of music, harmony and theory would need to be added as things progress.

The violin is a hellish difficult instrument to master. The Suzuki method has the advantage of pupils following an essentially single note outline making sight-reading less daunting than for the piano. The multi-noted piano is a different ball-game. You will find that teaching children (each with ten little finger to co-ordinate) will tax your communication skills to the limit.

Russ is on the money in highlighting the need for passion in the enterprise. The extent and success of your following will be proportional to this catalytic factor.

Best wishes,

#962285 - 02/07/04 02:47 PM Re: What should I study?
EmmaGrace Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 01/09/04
Posts: 1
I, too, am new at teaching. I do not have any music degrees....just many years of experience as a church pianist and a desire to teach piano to children in the rural area where I live. I have read several books that have helped me tremendously. The best is "The Art of Effective Piano Teaching" by Dino Ascari. Also, Dr. Martha Baker-Jordan's "Practical Piano Pedagogy: The Definitive Text for Piano Teachers..." is excellent. "The Well-Tempered Keyboard Teacher" was okay, but not as good as the first two. Hope this is helpful.

#962286 - 02/11/04 08:46 PM Re: What should I study?
Stevester Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/04/03
Posts: 2851
Loc: New Jersey

They have a number of books on this subject. If the link does not work try a search for J.W. Pepper and then go into their Piano at Pepper site which offers free shipping.

Patti Music also has many resources for teachers. Call Patti Music at 1-800-777-2884 and request their free catalog. They are very poor at monitoring their web site but they send out orders very fast using the telephone and mail.

If you or anyone can't find these sites send me a private mail and I will help you.

"The true character of a man can be determined by witnessing what he does when no one is watching".


#962287 - 02/16/04 07:18 AM Re: What should I study?
minsmusic Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/14/04
Posts: 24
Loc: Australia

Click on their teacher's studio. They have heaps of advice for running a private music studio, as well as teaching advice. They also have a forum.

#962288 - 02/16/04 09:49 AM Re: What should I study?
WKS70 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/04/03
Posts: 186
Loc: GA
I've been reading through all this, and the problem that Cobalt mentions is uncertainty over how to go about Suzuki, not insecurity over teaching students. I am not trained in Suzuki, but I do have an idea for you, Cobalt.

For the past few years, I've been taking lessons from Dr. Francisco Silva, an active concert pianist in the Atlanta area. He and his wife, Mireille, are in the process of writing a method that they currently call Gradus. Their first book is copyrighted, and they plan to publish it after they finish the second book sometime this year. They sell copies of their book and its accompanying CD from their home. Mireille Silva is certified in the Suzuki method, but just like so many courses, it too has its own little problems, although certainly not to the extent as the traditional American methods! Their book, Gradus, is the bridge between Suzuki and the traditional American approach. I changed all my beginner and intermediate students over to their course after having seen what it did for my daughter. The book uses solfege (do, re, mi) because it can be read and sung in rhythm much easier than using C, D, E. If you think about it, we are never taught to say our alphabet backwards. Also, when using C, D, E, it's hard to skip, such as when you say all the line or space notes, forwards or backwards, especially at a rapid speed.

Gradus is broken into four sections, Applied Theory, Pieces, Scales and Rhythm. You work through some of each section each week with the student. In Applied Theory, students learn to rapidly play and solfege all their intervals, up and down, and identify them by sound. There is also a writing section. In Pieces, they immediately start with a single note melody in the right hand and chords in the left. Even very small children do not have a problem with this. By the third song, the chords are broken down into Alberti bass, achieving independence of hands. Along with the scales, students are taught to transpose their pieces. The rhythm section is excellent.

My seven year-old daughter finished the book in a little less than a year. She is now considered an intermediate pianist. She's working on pieces from Burgmuller - Op 100, Anna Magdalena's Notebook, Beethoven's Sonatina in Sol, Hanon and Beyer. I believe strongly in this course because I see the difference in my own students.

If you are interested, you may contact the Silva's at the following address:

Francisco & Mireille Silva
1518 Blackwell Road
Marietta, GA 30066-2906
Tel: 770-565-7177

I wish you the best in working with your new students!


#962289 - 03/11/04 11:42 AM Re: What should I study?
starmender Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/06/03
Posts: 461
Loc: Australia
Study Piaget's theories of child development, and Karl Orff, Kodaly, Dalcroze and Suzuki.

Learn the Bartok Reschovsky Piano Tutor. Get to know the Burgmuller studies, Opus 100, and apply Max Cooke's Touch Tone Technique and Bartok Reschovsky to them.

Learn the Anna Magdelena Bach Book.
Learn Kabalevsky's 24 little pieces.

Then find some beginners books that excite you, and figure out how to get from them up to the above.

It takes years to get really good at teaching, and when you are finally a living treasure, you either retire or die in the saddle.


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