"Traps" new teachers fall into

Posted by: Ellechim

"Traps" new teachers fall into - 09/26/09 09:31 PM

Can you tell me some? I am going to start teaching soon, and don't want to do the wrong thing! Is there any traps you see many new teachers falling into?

Also, I was wondering what kinds of things to put in my "commitment form" or contract.

Thank you!!
Posted by: John v.d.Brook

Re: "Traps" new teachers fall into - 09/26/09 10:59 PM

Not thinking through your studio's operation. You want to teach piano/music, but you're operating a business. I don't know what your music school taught or required you to learn, but mine was a big fat zero. I took pedagogy courses from the college of education and business courses from the school of business, and it has made a huge difference.

One of the most useful texts I have found on the practical side of teaching is Dr. Martha Baker-Jordan's "Practical Pedagogy" which is loaded with how to solutions, sample studio policies, a CD-ROM with down-loadable documents. It's not expensive, and will pay for itself in weeks, not years!
Posted by: mstrongpianist

Re: "Traps" new teachers fall into - 09/26/09 11:15 PM

The biggest trap I see new teachers fall into is in trying to refund, reschedule or make up students missed lessons. Students/parents may ask to reschedule for many reasons from soccer games to birthday parties. In many conservatories and community music schools, the policy states there is no deduction from the monthly fee or rescheduling for missed lessons due to student absence. Rescheduling is only done in the event of teacher absence. If the student cancels or fails to attend the scheduled make-up lesson, the missed lesson will not be rescheduled nor will the monthly fee be credited.

Of course, there are some exceptions to this policy- long lasting illnesses (3+ weeks), broken bones, religious observances (outside of the common school year calendar's scheduled days off). So, in addition to your studio policy, I recommend also providing students with a studio calendar to let them know which days are off, and that the fee you charge has already factored these off days, so there is no pay reduction for short months.

Best of luck to you as a new teacher!

~mstrongpianist
Posted by: Nyiregyhazi

Re: "Traps" new teachers fall into - 09/27/09 10:34 AM

Umm, was the question primarily intended to be about how to ensure that you can rake in much filthy lucre as possible? I was kind of thinking that is might have come from somewhere slightly more altruistic- ie. about what traps to avoid falling into with regard to aiming to help the students as much as possible? Couldn't we focus a little more on that aspect of things?
Posted by: Betty Patnude

Re: "Traps" new teachers fall into - 09/27/09 01:32 PM

"The Piano Education Page" might be a good referance for you. I've seen lots of advice written there about the business operation as well as about teaching. (Google)

The website of Dr. "Martha Beth Lewis" is full of information for teachers, students and parents.

"Beth Gigante Klingenstein" is a very capable resource having had a music teaching business column in the American Music Teacher" magazine from MTNA (Music Teachers National Association. She now teaches at a college in South Dakota where she has developed on online pedagogy class for teachers - leading to MTNA Certification. She also has had a book on the market for many years that is still available.

Frances Clark Center for Music Study (New Jersey) along with the "Keyboard Clavier" magazine and many books and videos is a huge resource for professional teachers.

All you have to do is google these names and so much materials will come up. My own list of referance materials for pedagogy and business operations in a music teaching service is huge and I still have many to read on my list after 38 years of teaching.

Best wishes to you!

Betty
Posted by: dumdumdiddle

Re: "Traps" new teachers fall into - 09/27/09 02:24 PM

Originally Posted By: Nyiregyhazi
Umm, was the question primarily intended to be about how to ensure that you can rake in much filthy lucre as possible? I was kind of thinking that is might have come from somewhere slightly more altruistic- ie. about what traps to avoid falling into with regard to aiming to help the students as much as possible? Couldn't we focus a little more on that aspect of things?


So, you didn't read her sentence about "what kinds of things to put in my "commitment form" or contract"??

One of the biggest problems with piano teachers is that they don't consider themselves business people. I think that aspect of piano teaching deserves as much attention as the 'altruistic' parts.
Posted by: Nyiregyhazi

Re: "Traps" new teachers fall into - 09/27/09 02:30 PM

Originally Posted By: dumdumdiddle
Originally Posted By: Nyiregyhazi
Umm, was the question primarily intended to be about how to ensure that you can rake in much filthy lucre as possible? I was kind of thinking that is might have come from somewhere slightly more altruistic- ie. about what traps to avoid falling into with regard to aiming to help the students as much as possible? Couldn't we focus a little more on that aspect of things?


So, you didn't read her sentence about "what kinds of things to put in my "commitment form" or contract"??

One of the biggest problems with piano teachers is that they don't consider themselves business people. I think that aspect of piano teaching deserves as much attention as the 'altruistic' parts.


Well, I just found it rather notable that you tranposed the "also" into the main question about traps. Is getting as much money in as possible the most important issue here? I'd like to think that up and coming teachers would be primarily concerned with the traps that they don't want to fall into with regard to actually teaching, over the issue of how much money they can get out of it.
Posted by: dumdumdiddle

Re: "Traps" new teachers fall into - 09/27/09 03:44 PM

I didn't transpose anything. YOU started with the attitude when you commented about "how to ensure that you can rake in much filthy lucre as possible". I was commenting on THAT.

Geez....
Posted by: Nyiregyhazi

Re: "Traps" new teachers fall into - 09/27/09 03:51 PM

"I am going to start teaching soon, and don't want to do the wrong thing! Is there any traps you see many new teachers falling into?"

Sorry but you indeed transposed the 'also' part of the post into the above question.

I'm really not looking to start an argument here, but I think that the traps about how to teach are far more important to advise young teachers upon than the issue of how to maximise their earnings. Make the odd mistake with contracts and you might lose a few pounds. Big deal. You can learn from the mistake and move on. Make a mistake with teaching a student and you might screw up their playing up for life. I think we ought to be a little more concerned by the main question, than with the secondary issue that was mentioned. Personally I couldn't give a damn if a student doesn't want to come for a lesson occasionally (provided that they let me know in advance). I'd like to think that I've got more important things to worry about than extorting money out of people for not actually doing anything. To think that I thought teaching might be a vocation first and a means of raking in the cash second...
Posted by: Barb860

Re: "Traps" new teachers fall into - 09/27/09 04:12 PM

Originally Posted By: Nyiregyhazi
"I am going to start teaching soon, and don't want to do the wrong thing! Is there any traps you see many new teachers falling into?"

Sorry but you indeed transposed the 'also' part of the post into the above question.

I'm really not looking to start an argument here, but I think that the traps about how to teach are far more important to advise young teachers upon than the issue of how to maximise their earnings. Make the odd mistake with contracts and you might lose a few pounds. Big deal. You can learn from the mistake and move on. Make a mistake with teaching a student and you might screw up their playing up for life. I think we ought to be a little more concerned by the main question, than with the secondary issue that was mentioned. Personally I couldn't give a damn if a student doesn't want to come for a lesson occasionally (provided that they let me know in advance). I'd like to think that I've got more important things to worry about than extorting money out of people for not actually doing anything. To think that I thought teaching might be a vocation first and a means of raking in the cash second...


At the risk of sounding like an extortionist here,
IMO one of the main "traps" teachers can fall into is definitely the money issue. I think that's why so many of us commented on that first. A business plan serves as a strong foundation, along with pedagogy training.
Posted by: currawong

Re: "Traps" new teachers fall into - 09/27/09 05:56 PM

OK, Nyiregyhazi, so far your advice is don't think about the money. Anything else to offer, or is that all there is to it?
Posted by: eweiss

Re: "Traps" new teachers fall into - 09/27/09 06:07 PM

What's wrong with thinking about the money anyway?
Posted by: Nyiregyhazi

Re: "Traps" new teachers fall into - 09/27/09 06:20 PM

Originally Posted By: currawong
OK, Nyiregyhazi, so far your advice is don't think about the money. Anything else to offer, or is that all there is to it?


I didn't say don't think about money at all. I suggested that maybe there are more important issues to advise a new teacher on- other than how be in a contractually enforcable position in which to demand money for a lesson, in the event that the kid should warn you a week in advance that they won't be able to come next week, because they are going to their grandfather's Birthday party, say.

For one thing, make sure you grab your students arms plenty, to check that they are loosening up in the right places. In order to play comfortably, you need grip in the fingers but looseness in the wrist. Lose either and you have problems. The only way to ensure these things are working is to check by lifting the student's forearm while they are playing. They need to know what it's like to feel genuine pressure resting on a depressed key at the fingertip, while still having total freedom at the wrist. Unless they chance upon this for themself (which is highly unlikely) you need to show them what this actually feels like. Try pushing their fingertip into the keys slightly, to give that feeling of stable contact. Then simultaneously move their forearm and wrist around at the same time, to show how you have both freedom in the wrist and a very stable contact at the fingertip at once. Some things can only be done by feel, no matter how many words you might use. Always check their permission first, but you simply cannot convey technique adequately without a hands on approach. It's also very useful to get the student to do the same thing on you. There's a tendency not to fully believe the idea of a loose arm, unless you can prove it to them. Ideally play something quite fast and loud and ask them to try to whip your arm away without warning mid-flow. They are always surprised, when they realise how easy it is to pull my arm away from the keyboard. It's a good way to show that not only do you mean what you say, but that you are actually putting it into practise for yourself (rather than simply telling them something that might otherwise seem impossible).
Posted by: currawong

Re: "Traps" new teachers fall into - 09/27/09 08:20 PM

If I could suggest some of the "traps" I fell into when I first started teaching (a Long Time Ago) it may be helpful.
[1] Not thinking through how I was going to manage the business side. It's worth spending time organising this, as others have pointed out. That's if you actually need to eat and pay bills, as most of us do smile . (Disclaimer: I put this as #1 not necessarily because I think it's the most important.)
[2] Taking on too many students at the beginning before I'd had time to properly work out what I was doing.
[3] A tendency to not demand enough from some of the students.

Some of the things I did right:
[1] I wasn't afraid to try things. Or to ditch them if they didn't work.
[2] I did a lot of reading, talking to other teachers, and exploring music.
Posted by: Barb860

Re: "Traps" new teachers fall into - 09/27/09 10:39 PM

Originally Posted By: Ellechim
Can you tell me some? I am going to start teaching soon, and don't want to do the wrong thing! Is there any traps you see many new teachers falling into?

Also, I was wondering what kinds of things to put in my "commitment form" or contract.

Thank you!!


Start and end lessons ON TIME. Don't feel the need to go over time with anyone, when another student is waiting. I fell into the trap of not using time wisely. Be efficient and make the best possible use of time. Prepare ahead of lesson time as necessary: materials handy and ready for each student.
Posted by: John v.d.Brook

Re: "Traps" new teachers fall into - 09/27/09 11:32 PM

Barb, not only is that great advice for a beginning teacher, it's darn good advice for more experienced teachers as well.
Posted by: Candywoman

Re: "Traps" new teachers fall into - 09/28/09 12:50 AM

You need to start each student with the proper boundaries, particularly the beginners, so that discipline doesn't become a problem. You need to be friendly without trying too hard to be bosom buddies.

There's no shame in expecting the proper amount of money. If you are not in business anymore because you've let people get away with too much, then you won't be able to fulfill your commitment to students who rely on you for the whole year. Eking out a living isn't hauling off "filthy lucre."
Posted by: Ellechim

Re: "Traps" new teachers fall into - 09/28/09 01:54 AM

Thank you!

I definitely wasn't looking for any tips on getting rich. Who would go into teaching piano to get rich? lol

My question was mostly general, because I sincerely was looking for advice in any and all areas of teaching.....both guiding students and the business side.

Thank you for all the insight!
Posted by: Sal_

Re: "Traps" new teachers fall into - 09/28/09 03:06 AM

Know that it's okay to make mistakes (with the teaching aspect, not just the business side.) You can't be the perfect piano teacher over night.

A little bribery can go a long way. (In an ideal world, it's not needed, but let us be realistic.)

Don't try to teach too much too soon.
Posted by: Morodiene

Re: "Traps" new teachers fall into - 09/28/09 10:17 AM

Originally Posted By: Nyiregyhazi
"I am going to start teaching soon, and don't want to do the wrong thing! Is there any traps you see many new teachers falling into?"

Sorry but you indeed transposed the 'also' part of the post into the above question.

I'm really not looking to start an argument here, but I think that the traps about how to teach are far more important to advise young teachers upon than the issue of how to maximise their earnings. Make the odd mistake with contracts and you might lose a few pounds. Big deal. You can learn from the mistake and move on. Make a mistake with teaching a student and you might screw up their playing up for life. I think we ought to be a little more concerned by the main question, than with the secondary issue that was mentioned. Personally I couldn't give a damn if a student doesn't want to come for a lesson occasionally (provided that they let me know in advance). I'd like to think that I've got more important things to worry about than extorting money out of people for not actually doing anything. To think that I thought teaching might be a vocation first and a means of raking in the cash second...


You are speaking hypothetically, so does that mean you are not a teacher?
Posted by: Morodiene

Re: "Traps" new teachers fall into - 09/28/09 10:29 AM

Back to the OP, here are some things to consider:

1) Do have a policy that you consider to be fair, and *use* it. It protects you and the student.

2) Do have an idea of what you want each student to achieve, both in the long run and the short run. Plan out the year accordingly, setting milestones and work your daily plans accordingly.

3) Do familiarize yourself with the method books and repertoire that you will be teaching before starting to teach. The more resources that are available to you, the more flexible you can be with each student's needs.

4) Do reflect on your own teachers, what you liked about how they taught and what you didn't like, to help you form your own style of teaching.

5) Do not try to please everyone all the time. You will only succeed in pleasing some people some of the time anyways. Do your best to be understanding when that is warranted, but in the end there will be those who expect everything for nothing.

6) Do consider only teaching beginner students are first. That way you can focus on what they need to learn as a beginner: the technique, repertoire, what should be the order of what is learned, etc. Once you have a handle on that, then you can explore Intermediate levels. If you jump into all levels of playing at first you will be overwhelmed and underprepared.

7) Do be an Encourager, and not a Discourager. Even in rough days where kids don't practice or get frustrated with themselves, try to help them work toward a solution rather than dwell on what is or what isn't.

8) Do consider the learning styles of each student. Children especially may be very oriented in one way: Aurally, visually, or tactically. Understanding this will help you to teach them. Usually by the time a person becomes an adult, they have learned ways to compensate for their different learning styles and can often glean knowledge from two or all 3 styles.

9) Do continue your education by reading, attending classes and seminars, and conventions. I have learned so much from other teachers on how to be a better teacher, and I continue to add these things to my own teaching.

10) Lastly, do join an organization such at MTNA, where you can exchange ideas with other teachers, develop healthy professional relationships, and receive/give encouragement.
Posted by: jazzyclassical

Re: "Traps" new teachers fall into - 09/28/09 02:50 PM

Some of the important things I've learned over the years are, in no particular order:

Don't try to "enforce" note reading too early, with good directional reading instruction your students will learn to read but always remember that it takes time.

Don't try to move too quickly,even if you see a student has talent.

Ensure that your student is playing with good tone, hand and body position.

There are benefits of group lessons of 2 when teaching young beginners.

Young beginners learn better by ear first.

Be confident when speaking to the parents. Don't let them push you around. Some will try.

Don't be afraid to discipline your students, they will respect you if you are serious about music. This doesn't mean you have to be mean, just firm and even-keeled.

Teach pieces methodically, and make sure each student knows exactly what, in which order and how many repetitions. Write out a daily practice regimen. (Most students need this structure)

Have a strict policy and stand by it.

Be yourself. Teaching-wise and personality-wise.

Don't be afraid to let the parents know if and when the student is not practicing or seems to be losing interest. It is more important to get the bottom of it even if it risks losing the student.

Don't be afraid to lose students. It happens.

Do give incentives for good practice habits.

Continuously advertise. Keep flyers in your car at all times in case you randomly come across a place where you can put up a flyer.

Applaud your students when they've performed well.

Don't rely too much on method books.

Keep track of your money! I use a ledger.

Charge by the month and not by the lesson. It's much easier that way.

Host monthly performance classes so the students become comfortable with recitals.

Teach your students how to bow after a performance.

I could go on, but I'll stop there. I'm sure I'll think of more in a minute!
Posted by: Nyiregyhazi

Re: "Traps" new teachers fall into - 09/28/09 03:33 PM

Originally Posted By: Morodiene
Originally Posted By: Nyiregyhazi
"I am going to start teaching soon, and don't want to do the wrong thing! Is there any traps you see many new teachers falling into?"

Sorry but you indeed transposed the 'also' part of the post into the above question.

I'm really not looking to start an argument here, but I think that the traps about how to teach are far more important to advise young teachers upon than the issue of how to maximise their earnings. Make the odd mistake with contracts and you might lose a few pounds. Big deal. You can learn from the mistake and move on. Make a mistake with teaching a student and you might screw up their playing up for life. I think we ought to be a little more concerned by the main question, than with the secondary issue that was mentioned. Personally I couldn't give a damn if a student doesn't want to come for a lesson occasionally (provided that they let me know in advance). I'd like to think that I've got more important things to worry about than extorting money out of people for not actually doing anything. To think that I thought teaching might be a vocation first and a means of raking in the cash second...


You are speaking hypothetically, so does that mean you are not a teacher?


No. It does not.
Posted by: JerryS88

Re: "Traps" new teachers fall into - 09/28/09 08:06 PM

I would say the worst trap I fell into when I used to teach was to be so concerned about my students learning to read music that I avoided playing for them lest they "cheat" by mimicking me. Now I believe that the teacher's greatest and most powerful teaching tool is to CONSTANTLY play for their students, precisely because it uses children's natural ability to mimic, just as they learn to speak. There are so many nuances to playing music that can be demonstrated so much more easily than can be described in words, and playing for the student helps develop their hearing. When I go back to teaching, my students and I will get a great physical workout switching places on the piano bench. I would also incorporate a lot of listening to great recordings.
Posted by: abcdefg

Re: "Traps" new teachers fall into - 09/28/09 08:21 PM

Join your local MTNA organization. They should have programs and events that will help you and your students.

Set long term and short term goals for each student. This can be done through Guild auditions or other similar programs.

Remember that each student will learn at his/her own pace. Praise all accomplishments. Let the student know you are proud of what they have done whether it takes one week or one month.

Be patient.
Posted by: Morodiene

Re: "Traps" new teachers fall into - 09/28/09 09:01 PM

Originally Posted By: Nyiregyhazi
Originally Posted By: Morodiene


You are speaking hypothetically, so does that mean you are not a teacher?


No. It does not.

So it does not mean you're not a teacher. Is that your double-negative way of saying you're a teacher? If so, you should state that in your signature line.

http://www.pianoworld.com/forum/ubbthrea...html#Post962149
Posted by: Nyiregyhazi

Re: "Traps" new teachers fall into - 09/28/09 09:52 PM

Originally Posted By: Morodiene
Originally Posted By: Nyiregyhazi
Originally Posted By: Morodiene


You are speaking hypothetically, so does that mean you are not a teacher?


No. It does not.

So it does not mean you're not a teacher. Is that your double-negative way of saying you're a teacher? If so, you should state that in your signature line.

http://www.pianoworld.com/forum/ubbthrea...html#Post962149


Yep, I'm a teacher. I was just giving a direct answer, in accordance with how the question was phrased.
Posted by: John v.d.Brook

Re: "Traps" new teachers fall into - 09/28/09 10:07 PM

Just curious, what do you teach and where do you teach?
Posted by: Betty Patnude

Re: "Traps" new teachers fall into - 09/28/09 10:14 PM

Nyiregyhazi,

Did you say you can't pronounce your name?

Not only is it hard to pronounce, it's hard to spell!

I would think that is a big disadvantage. How do you cope?
Posted by: currawong

Re: "Traps" new teachers fall into - 09/28/09 10:30 PM

Originally Posted By: Betty Patnude
Nyiregyhazi,
Did you say you can't pronounce your name?
Not only is it hard to pronounce, it's hard to spell!
I would think that is a big disadvantage. How do you cope?
It's not his real name, Betty. It's his screen name.
Read about Nyiregyhazi here.
Posted by: Betty Patnude

Re: "Traps" new teachers fall into - 09/29/09 12:56 AM

Currawong,

I understood it's his "screen" adopted name, but it's still a disadvantage if no one can say it correctly. Yes, I understand he borrowed it from a Hungarion piano prodigy. Again there was no pronunciation key in the link, so I'm still uncertain of how to say the name correctly.

Now I'm wondering what the poster feels he has in common with Nyiregyhazi. The wikipedia information shows a very troubled life.

A comment was that he for 40 years he did not own a piano. Again, a very sad situation for someone with such strong natural abilities at age 3.

Thanks for the link, Currawong!
Posted by: currawong

Re: "Traps" new teachers fall into - 09/29/09 01:28 AM

Originally Posted By: Betty Patnude
I understood it's his "screen" adopted name, but it's still a disadvantage if no one can say it correctly. Yes, I understand he borrowed it from a Hungarion piano prodigy. Again there was no pronunciation key in the link, so I'm still uncertain of how to say the name correctly.

Now I'm wondering what the poster feels he has in common with Nyiregyhazi. The wikipedia information shows a very troubled life.

Yes, it's interesting reading. But I wouldn't feel I had to analyse so much. Apart from those who use their real name (like you!) many of us have screen names which may have no special significance. Mine for example has no deep psychological layers. It's simply the name of an Australian bird which sings. And as we're only writing here, not speaking, I don't find the pronunciation issue a problem. By the way, a time-saving way of writing a difficult name is simply to copy and paste. smile
Posted by: AZNpiano

Re: "Traps" new teachers fall into - 09/29/09 01:33 AM

Originally Posted By: Morodiene

4) Do reflect on your own teachers, what you liked about how they taught and what you didn't like, to help you form your own style of teaching.


Superior list! I'd like to respond to this one.

Just because a student can regurgitate a fact or a definition does NOT mean he/she understands the concept. Memory does not equal comprehension. When I first started teaching, I was satisfied with a regurgitated answer. Now I force the student to "say it in your own words" or "explain it to me in a different way." When students can demonstrate comprehension, they can begin to apply what they learned in new and different situations.
Posted by: Nikolas

Re: "Traps" new teachers fall into - 09/29/09 01:57 AM

Mistakes I made when started out (I teach very few students and I mix composition and piano, so... :-/ I didn't add it in my signature. If I have to I will do so, though).

* More time. I'm TERRIBLE at time structure! Terrible. Even at uni, when teaching I take my time and often spend more time that I have to. Of course this is ALWAYS happening when I don't have another student after that waiting, or another course in the uni. But it still remains a mistake, cause I spoil my students!
* Money. I did it once and never did it again. Back in London, I got into a home of a rather poor woman (apparently anyways) and we agreed on an amount I wasn't happy with, but I kinda felt pity for the woman... We didn't have many lessons, she was an adult learner, loved music, but couldn't really cope, but still I didn't like going there and spending an hour (plus something to come and go) for such a low amount of money. Made me feel quite bad!

EDIT: I always use the name "Nikolas". Nikolas is not really written like this in the English language, but it is in the Greek language, so it is actually (almost) my passport name! And google loves my name as far as I know! :P
Posted by: Minniemay

Re: "Traps" new teachers fall into - 09/29/09 05:21 AM

Spend time doing and less time talking.

Model practice in your lessons. You can't send a child home without teaching the "how" of practice. They have no frame of reference!

Model beautiful sound at every opportunity, whether it is in an exercise, a rote piece or improvising.

Build success into every activity by stairstepping from what the student already knows.

Assume nothing.

Ask many questions. They open the mind.

Build a relationship with your students. They are people first.
Posted by: Nyiregyhazi

Re: "Traps" new teachers fall into - 09/29/09 06:56 AM

Originally Posted By: Betty Patnude
Currawong,

I understood it's his "screen" adopted name, but it's still a disadvantage if no one can say it correctly. Yes, I understand he borrowed it from a Hungarion piano prodigy. Again there was no pronunciation key in the link, so I'm still uncertain of how to say the name correctly.

Now I'm wondering what the poster feels he has in common with Nyiregyhazi. The wikipedia information shows a very troubled life.

A comment was that he for 40 years he did not own a piano. Again, a very sad situation for someone with such strong natural abilities at age 3.

Thanks for the link, Currawong!



Well, aside from his troubled life, he did actually play the piano and make recordings (despite not owning a piano). I doubt whether a particularly high percentage of Cortot's fans were drawn by the cocaine habit, or that many of Cziffra's fans served time in a prison camp. I just like the unique style in which he played.
Posted by: Nyiregyhazi

Re: "Traps" new teachers fall into - 09/29/09 06:58 AM

I'm a piano teacher in the UK.
Posted by: John v.d.Brook

Re: "Traps" new teachers fall into - 09/29/09 10:04 AM

Thanks. By "where" I meant, in a private studio, in a school program, etc. And as I'm being nosy, do you teach piano full time or part time?
Posted by: Nyiregyhazi

Re: "Traps" new teachers fall into - 09/29/09 10:34 AM

Originally Posted By: John v.d.Brook
Thanks. By "where" I meant, in a private studio, in a school program, etc. And as I'm being nosy, do you teach piano full time or part time?


Ah, mostly in a couple of schools. I do a few at home as well. I'm just on three days a week, so I can use the rest of my time to practise.
Posted by: Kreisler

Re: "Traps" new teachers fall into - 09/29/09 10:36 AM

I think one trap teachers fall into is trying too hard not to fall into traps. You become paralyzed by the fear of not trying things out. Don't become paralyzed!

You have to jump in, take risks, and try a lot of new things.

You have to expect a lot of them to fail, but celebrate the ones that don't.

You have to realize nobody starts out perfect. The reason that all of us are able to tell you what the traps are is that we fell into them. Hard. Head first.

No matter how good or how bad you are, you will have some students who do well and some who don't. Sometimes they will do well or poorly because of you. Sometimes they will do well or poorly despite you. The only thing that will tell you which is experience, so go get some.

When you blame yourself, blame everybody. If a student does poorly, it's everybody's fault - yours, the parent's, and the student's. Encourage all to do better.

When a student is successful, give everybody credit - yourself, the student, the parent. Make sure everybody shares in the glory!
Posted by: Diane...

Re: "Traps" new teachers fall into - 09/29/09 10:59 AM

Good ideas here!

One "trap" I got myself into when I started was giving a discount for the second sibling or even the third, in one family! I soon discovered that giving a discount because I had more than one student from a family was a bad idea! So now I don't give discounts to family even though they will ask for it! A student is a student regardless!

And I take one day off! I make sure the parents know which day, and now one calls me and I don't think "teaching" on the day that I have off! Friday is the day I take off and I go out for lunch or go shopping and I don't think about piano teaching on that day! And I especially don't do make-ups on that day!

Just some lessons learned! [pun intended) smile
Posted by: Jeff Clef

Re: "Traps" new teachers fall into - 09/29/09 11:54 AM

"Read about Nyiregyhazi here."

(nyeer-edge-hah-zee)

Wow, that's some bio. "Troubled" certainly says it--- if it says enough. Happens I'm placing a bookstore order today, and the Wiki article points to Kevin Bazzana's book, Lost Genius. I happen to be a fan of Bazzana's book on Glenn Gould; he appears to be a specialist in the cautionary tale, if it's possible to judge by the two works. I'll post a few words after I read the book, if I think it might be of interest to anyone else.

Overlooking the unnecessary argumentativeness, the OP's question was a good one, and a good topic for this very useful thread.
Posted by: Betty Patnude

Re: "Traps" new teachers fall into - 09/29/09 02:08 PM

Thanks for that info, Jeff Clef!

Now I can practice saying (nyeer-edge-hah-zee)!

Please do post after your reading it will be of interest to me!

Betty
Posted by: jazzyclassical

Re: "Traps" new teachers fall into - 09/29/09 07:32 PM

Originally Posted By: JerryS88
I would say the worst trap I fell into when I used to teach was to be so concerned about my students learning to read music that I avoided playing for them lest they "cheat" by mimicking me. Now I believe that the teacher's greatest and most powerful teaching tool is to CONSTANTLY play for their students, precisely because it uses children's natural ability to mimic, just as they learn to speak. There are so many nuances to playing music that can be demonstrated so much more easily than can be described in words, and playing for the student helps develop their hearing. When I go back to teaching, my students and I will get a great physical workout switching places on the piano bench. I would also incorporate a lot of listening to great recordings.


I completely agree!
Posted by: AZNpiano

Re: "Traps" new teachers fall into - 09/30/09 01:45 AM

This is a oft-derailed thread. I like the OP, so here are my 2 cents.

1) Maintain high expectations. And keep the bar high. Don't compromise your aspirations. Amazingly, most kids rise to the occasion.

2) Quality is better than quantity. Seek out serious students who are willing to put in the work. You might not have a big studio, but you'd be much happier.

3) Be willing to learn and try something new and different. It's too easy to fall back on stuff you used before, or the stuff your first teacher used to teach you piano. Expand your teaching repertoire.
Posted by: Morodiene

Re: "Traps" new teachers fall into - 09/30/09 09:28 AM

Originally Posted By: Diane...
Good ideas here!

One "trap" I got myself into when I started was giving a discount for the second sibling or even the third, in one family! I soon discovered that giving a discount because I had more than one student from a family was a bad idea! So now I don't give discounts to family even though they will ask for it! A student is a student regardless!

And I take one day off! I make sure the parents know which day, and now one calls me and I don't think "teaching" on the day that I have off! Friday is the day I take off and I go out for lunch or go shopping and I don't think about piano teaching on that day! And I especially don't do make-ups on that day!

Just some lessons learned! [pun intended) smile


I also gave discounts for siblings. My hourly rate is not exactly twice my half-hour rate, so if I have two half-hour students from the same family, I charge them the hourly rate. I have a family with 3 kids, two of whom are up to 45 minute lessons and the other is still half hours. I don't give discounts for any of them. I don't teach the 2nd or 3rd child with any less preparation and care, so why should my time be cheaper?

I also stopped teaching on Saturdays a while back. I used to do it when I had a studio of 50 students, and then when I cut back I continued. The Saturday students had more rescheduling and missed lessons than the weekly ones did, and it freed up my Saturdays so once in a while I could hold group lessons and recitals then.
Posted by: R0B

Re: "Traps" new teachers fall into - 09/30/09 09:54 AM

Don't be afraid to adjust your rates on an annual basis. People pretty much expect it, and if you don't, the only person that loses, is you.

When I first applied an increase for new students, I kept the old ones on the original rate, thinking I might lose them if I upped the price.
In fact the opposite happened. I had more than one parent, say to me, "I think you deserve a raise, so from now on, I will pay you X"

I too, used to give a discount for more than one family member, taking lessons concurrently, but soon realised that I was the only one losing out in that arrangement.

I have a family of three children, plus a parent, taking lessons in both piano and guitar, and they are more than happy to pay the individual lesson rate.

I think we can be our own worst enemy, when it comes to setting rates, and feeling we should give discounts.

My accountant would not dream of giving family discounts, so if it is good enough for him.......
Posted by: TimR

Re: "Traps" new teachers fall into - 09/30/09 11:31 AM

At the risk of being overly practical, time.

My daughter's teacher set a kitchen timer for 30 minutes as the child sat down. When it rang, that child was done and the child outside the door gathered up her materials.

Other teachers ran over - maybe only five minutes, but add that up over several students and you're in the studio an hour or so later than you intended.
Posted by: AZNpiano

Re: "Traps" new teachers fall into - 09/30/09 11:52 AM

Originally Posted By: TimR
Other teachers ran over - maybe only five minutes, but add that up over several students and you're in the studio an hour or so later than you intended.


That's why some teachers (myself included) schedule mini breaks throughout the day. 15 minutes of break for every 2 hours and 45 minutes of lessons. Sometimes it's hard to schedule them like that, but I like the flexibility.
Posted by: John v.d.Brook

Re: "Traps" new teachers fall into - 09/30/09 12:12 PM

Originally Posted By: TimR
At the risk of being overly practical, time.

My daughter's teacher set a kitchen timer for 30 minutes as the child sat down. When it rang, that child was done and the child outside the door gathered up her materials.

Other teachers ran over - maybe only five minutes, but add that up over several students and you're in the studio an hour or so later than you intended.


Tim, I have a wall clock which is in my line of sight as I teach, and also is one of those which pick up the US Government time signal, so it's always accurate. Because my lessons are blocked into three major groups, etudes/scales, new/review pieces, repertoire, I need to keep track of time and keep both student and myself on task. I hate watching the clock, but I dislike buzzers and beepers even more.
Posted by: AZNpiano

Re: "Traps" new teachers fall into - 09/30/09 12:17 PM

John--

How flexible are you on your teaching blocks? Wouldn't some pieces require much more time that they end up taking up the entire lesson?

For some of the advanced students whose parents refuse to pay for anything longer than an hour lesson, I end up splitting their repertoire so that I hear half of them one week and the other half the following week. The downfall is that they don't have lessons on a piece until two weeks later, and some instruction is lost from the previous lesson.
Posted by: John v.d.Brook

Re: "Traps" new teachers fall into - 09/30/09 12:34 PM

They are not hard and fast, but if I see we're 20 min into a lesson and still working on scales, I know it's time to move on. My lessons are most 50 min, so the normal break down is 15-20-15.
Posted by: Minniemay

Re: "Traps" new teachers fall into - 09/30/09 04:37 PM

If you aren't getting through all the repertoire in one lesson, then you are either assigning too much repertoire, or not using your time as efficiently as you might. IMO, you don't have to hear an entire advanced piece clear through at every lesson. Plan to hear certain portions of the piece to work on certain ideas or technical problems.

I often will ask the student what their primary issue is in a piece (if I don't they, are a bit antsy and won't focus on anything else anyway). Address that first, then choose what you want to hear in each piece.

I always try to hear one piece all the way through, but the parts of other things.
Posted by: AZNpiano

Re: "Traps" new teachers fall into - 09/30/09 05:40 PM

Minniemay--

As you know, CM requires 5 hefty pieces for Advanced level. It takes half an hour just to hear every piece _once_. Some of these kids are going for Panel.

My old teacher makes these kids take 2-hour lessons, which makes better sense to me. I can't cajole all the parents to do that, so I have to compromise.
Posted by: John v.d.Brook

Re: "Traps" new teachers fall into - 09/30/09 05:59 PM

Originally Posted By: Minniemay
If you aren't getting through all the repertoire in one lesson, then you are either assigning too much repertoire, or not using your time as efficiently as you might. IMO, you don't have to hear an entire advanced piece clear through at every lesson. Plan to hear certain portions of the piece to work on certain ideas or technical problems.

I often will ask the student what their primary issue is in a piece (if I don't they, are a bit antsy and won't focus on anything else anyway). Address that first, then choose what you want to hear in each piece.

I always try to hear one piece all the way through, but the parts of other things.


For Guild, my students need to maintain a repertoire of 10 pieces. For the lowest levels, this will take 10 minutes to hear once through, for upper levels, we cannot get through it in an entire lesson. So, again, depending on student's level, I selectively listen to repertoire and rotate. There's no other way.

BTW, there are plenty of non-Guild teachers who understand the virtue of having students maintain repertoire. We can discuss the merits, pro and con, in another thread if you like, so we don't hijack this thread.
Posted by: musiclady

Re: "Traps" new teachers fall into - 10/04/09 11:01 AM

Some traps I can think of:

Charging really low fees in the hope to attract people.

Accepting just about any student who asks for lessons. (like I rarely accept students who don't, or their parents say, they don't want to do exams, I do really well with students who want to achieve excellence. And I definitely do not accept students who do not agree to at least performing at the twice-annual student concerts I do)

Agreeing to discounts off your lesson fees when they ask for it.

Not firing students when they are proving to be not worth the money.

Not insisting on good tone quality.

Not insisting on right rhythms.

Not establishing a good studio policy.

Not asking your colleagues for advice on problems you're having with students.

Not connecting with musical colleagues or friends (I've gotten more than a few students this way!)

Worrying about how other people will feel about your choices of music, because of say, some people not wanting kids to learn modern music or music that makes reference to magic, wizards, or witches for example.

Not insisting on longer lessons when students clearly need it, and assuming people only want 30 min lessons.

I think that's a pretty good list...

Meri
Posted by: Minniemay

Re: "Traps" new teachers fall into - 10/04/09 05:16 PM

AZN: I know all about the CM advanced level. I've taken students through it in the past and I have one doing it now.

I manage it by spreading the pieces out over the year. They might learn the biggest piece first thing in the fall, then put it on the back burner until a few weeks before CM. In my opinion, students must learn lots of repertoire, not just a few contest/festival pieces. Not everything has to be learned to perfection, but the more exposure they have to repertoire in a given style, the more quicky they learn because you have covered the concepts before.

The other thing about CM rep is that it doesn't have to be all long pieces. Choose carefully. A Bach fugue doesn't last 20 minutes. Some sonata movements last only 5-8. An character piece of Schumann might only last that long. You don't have to play pieces of great length, just increasing difficulty.