No matter how long you have been teaching piano, you are probably still looking for ways to be an even better instructor.
You probably find that your job is a lot of fun. It’s likely that you can’t imagine a better way to earn a living. That’s because you get to spend your time inspiring young musicians, or perhaps those who simply are young at heart!
How can you make yourself an indispensable piano teacher to your students now and in the future? Read on to discover some valuable tips.
Make Sure You Keep Learning
Many professionals, regardless of the industry in which they work, can find themselves in a rut. Usually, it comes from having practiced the same profession for a number of years. If you begin to feel a little lackluster about your chosen career, then perhaps it is time to learn something new or to seek out a new perspective on well-known material.
Have you noticed that there is always new music to experience? It’s true! Composers are still hard at work today bringing new pieces to the world. If you feel like you are stuck in a rut, then maybe it’s time to look for some new pieces by a composer that perhaps you’ve never heard of before. You might even want to reach back in time to find a little-known classical composer who has the power to capture your imagination.
Alternatively, you might consider exploring other musical genres. Maybe you are a classically trained pianist who has always been intrigued by the unique rhythm and style of jazz. Now is the perfect time to start getting proficient with a whole new way of playing.
No matter how experienced and knowledgeable you are, remember that there is always more to learn. Consider that you may be able to improve on your skills in areas such as:
- Adding to your repertoire;
- Composing; and
When you take an opportunity to put yourself in the role of student, you never know what new horizons will be opened up to you. This is a fantastic chance to reignite your passion for piano, and that’s something that you easily can pass on to your students.
Explore New Technology
Experienced piano teachers sometimes are not aware of the many technological innovations that can inform and enhance their lessons. This may mean doing some experimentation with playing a digital piano, but it further can mean taking a look at some useful apps and software.
Remember that your students, especially if they are kids or teens, are probably captivated by technology. They wouldn’t dream of leaving the house without their smart phone, and it seems like they are always looking for ways to incorporate their devices or favorite websites and apps into everything they do.
This means that if you decide to incorporate technology into your lessons, your students are likely to find you indispensable to their learning experience.
If you are not a devoted user of portable devices in your personal life, then the idea of confronting all of this technology can be more than a little intimidating. Perhaps you’re even wondering if any apps, websites or software even have anything valuable or meaningful to add to piano instruction.
The reality is that there are many high-quality technological music resources out there, but you do have to be discriminating. Some of these resources are definitely better designed and more rigorous than others.
If you are ready to give technology a try, then consider using some methods like:
- Using a well-designed digital sheet music app to mark, store and practice along with students
- Teaching students to compose their own music using apps such as Garage Band
- Filming a video of you or your students practicing or performing
- Using notation software for your student’s original compositions
- Incorporating educational apps into your lessons
Without a doubt, most of these methods will involve a pretty steep learning curve. However, you may discover that adding some technology to your musical endeavors actually is exciting and fun. It’s almost a guarantee that your students will appreciate your efforts, and this just might inspire them to keep learning too.
Look at New Teaching Methods
If you have been a piano teacher for several years, or even decades, then you may have used the same teaching techniques for as long as you have been offering lessons. While your students change, your methods remain the same. This means that lessons may be challenging to your students as they encounter them, but they can start to feel really stale for you.
Fortunately, there is more than one way to teach piano. When you feel like you’re stuck in a rut, decide to get out of it by seeking new and different ways to teach.
Once again, this is a wonderful opportunity to cast yourself in the role of student. Enroll in one-on-one classes with another instructor to see how they approach their work. Check out the list of courses offered by the local community college or university to see if they are offering classes related to music learning and teaching. In fact, it may be valuable to take some broader classes about education so that you become more familiar with the various learning styles. This may inspire you with ideas for how to reach students who don’t necessarily learn the way that most of your students do.
Don’t forget that a multitude of webinars and online music conferences are at your fingertips. When you need inspiration and new ideas, a few clicks of your mouse may be all that’s needed.
Reach out to Other Teachers
How many of your friends are piano teachers too? It’s strange how sometimes piano teachers let go of connections to colleagues in the same profession. Over the years, those relationships seem to fade away.
Perhaps that is because piano teachers tend to work in relative isolation. They spend most of their time at home or in a small studio. This provides plenty of opportunities to get to know your students, but it does not necessarily foster relationships with other music professionals.
If available, you may want to get connected to any local music teacher organizations in your area. Attending various meetings and events hosted by these groups provides you a chance to meet and mingle with like-minded professionals who teach piano, oboe, guitar and any other instrument you can imagine. Independent music teacher organizations may be available in your area. If not, then you might want to get in touch with the Music Teacher’s National Association to join one of their groups or to find help with locating a group in your region.
Of course, sometimes piano instructors are located in out-of-the-way, sparsely populated areas that can make it difficult to find local colleagues. In this case, it’s wise to start looking around the Internet to see what options may be available. More groups than ever before have expansive online presences, and you may be surprised by the rich and diverse company that you find.
Piano Teacher Central is one of many popular Facebook groups that cater specifically to piano teachers, so if social media is a comfortable place for you, then you might start here.
Also, keep in mind that attending conferences is a tried and true way to connect with colleagues and learn new and exciting teaching methods and theories. Large organizations like the National Association for Music Education host annual conferences that bring together professionals from across the country and around the globe.
Pay Attention to What Kids Are Interested In
Chances are pretty good that most of your students are kids and teens. This means that it is wise for you to stay in the know with regard to what kids are listening to as well as their other interests. Get to know some of the movies, television shows and pop stars that are influencing everything from fashion to language these days.
What are your youngest students interested in? Mermaids, unicorns, BMX bikes and football are likely answers. Maybe Legos, Harry Potter or Star Wars inspire others. Use these interests to enhance your lessons. For instance, perhaps you’ll hand out mermaid stickers or find a way to use different sized Legos to demonstrate various rhythms.
Above all, it makes sense to listen to today’s popular music. This doesn’t mean that you necessarily have to enjoy it or listen to it all the time. However, a little bit of familiarity with today’s most popular artists and their songs can help you to find ways to appeal to your students. You can use popular songs and movie themes in your piano lessons. Few things are as good at capturing a restless young student’s attention as studying their favorite song.
Let Prodigies Provide Inspiration
Prodigies is a proud supporter of music teachers everywhere. Like you, we have dedicated our professional lives to bringing the joy of music to kids.
When you need a fresh approach in your lessons, take a look at the offerings from Prodigies. We have numerous video lessons that may inspire you and your students, but we also provide sheet music and other programs that are designed to supplement the music learning experience.
Inspiration is just a few clicks away when you’re visiting Prodigies Music. Let us know how we can help you regain your passion for teaching piano so that you can pass that feeling on to your students.