What makes a new piano teacher "qualified" to teach?

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Hello, I have just started building my clientel of piano students. I took piano lessons for 12 years and I have always wanted to teach beginners myself! I currently have one adult 35 year old student with no previous piano or musical knowledge, and one 10 year old student at an advanced beginners stage. I believe I am teaching them both how to read music well, good theory and technique, and how to have fun playing the piano! I have enjoyed teaching both of them, but sometimes I feel like I don't 'know enough' or that I 'don't play good enough' to be a piano teacher. Am I just being hard on myself? I think the reason I feel this way is that I was not around a piano for a few years (during my last two years of college and first year or so of marraige) so I did not practice as much as I had in previous years. Is there certain criteria that people look for in a piano teacher? What do I need to improve on or brush up on skills-wise?

-- Marne Clark (marneclark@hotmail.com), September 23, 2002


Marne: You are wise to consider ways to improve your abilities. Never lose that! I've been teaching for 20 years and the thing I have found most necessary is to keep learning, seeking out new ideas and improving my own skills both as a pianist and a teacher.

As a new teacher, I would encourage you to do several things: 1. Keep your own fingers in shape. Play every day. Learn new repertoire, especially teaching repertoire. You must be able to play, and play well, that which you intend to teach. That includes the duet accompaniments for your students' pieces! I'm always surprised when I hear teachers fumble through those things.

2. Seek out learning opportunities. These can include joining the local teachers association, taking lessons and pedagogy classes at a nearby university, reading professional journals and pedagogy books.

3. Take time to prepare adequately. This is where many beginning teachers fall short. Teaching beginners is not an easy task. Sure, the music is simple, but guiding a child's learning at the piano that includes reading, technique and musicianship is a large task. Study many piano courses and, if you can, learn about the why and how of the course, not just what gets taught on the next page. I have found it necessary to really understand the big picture of the author's philosophy. You need to look at the course as a whole, not just the first book or two.

4. Take time for yourself. Teaching can get overwhelming sometimes and you need time to recharge your batteries. I'd start with just a few students and gradually build from there as you feel comfortable.

5. Ask lots of questions. There are many of us here on this site and other sites that are always at the ready with suggestions and solutions to various problems. You'll always be able to find something that works for you.

Feel free to e-mail anytime! I love helping beginning teachers. Good luck!

-- Arlene Steffen (asteffen@fresno.edu), September 26, 2002.

I've been playing the piano since I was 3 at college level at Bucks. right now I am 17 and have a strong passion for music. This year, I am completing a Graduation Project on how to teach a Beginner on how to play the piano, properly, and how to read music. I am still continuing my study of music, and am going to college for music in a year. I'm teaching good techiniques, proper fingering, how to sight read, and read notes, and how to play well, while having fun.

-- Jennifer Allen (aalazia@yahoo.com), November 26, 2002.

I am an adult student. I would like to share some experience, if I may, about qualified teacher.

It's important for a teacher to be able to "trouble-shoot" your problem, that is to say she must be able to 1) Identify the problem, 2) Explain why and how the problem comes about, 3) Give suggestions to fix the problem.

In my humble opinion, merely being able to demonstrated the correct way of playing is not sufficient. When my 1st teacher repeatedly demo for me but I still could not get it, I felt useless, she was dissapointed then I got dissapointed, at the end nobody gain anything.

I am at late intermediate level now and I think a classical piano teacher I can work well with must have these characteristics and skills:

- troubleshoot and solve problems - strong knowledge of theory - being able to play my pieces, preferably sight-read otherwise she must be commited enough to prepare the piece before lesson. I know alot of ppl think that I am asking too much but bear in mind that my pieces are not advanced, it should take her just a few minutes to prepare for my piece. My current teacher could sight read at full speed all my pieces. - recommend books, repertoire, concerts etc... anybody can tell she is really devoted to her profession.

The fact that you ask shows that you really care for your students, I am sure you will be able to be a good teacher.

-- suba (noname_poster@yahoo.com), December 11, 2002.

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