Getting started - the best approach : LUSENET : Everything About Teaching and Learning the Piano : One Thread

To say I'm just getting started couldn't be more of an understatement. I'm 29 and have played the piano on and off for as long as I can remember, but have always pushed it aside to focus on a wholly unrelated career. Well, now that I have the career I worked toward, I find that in my heart of hearts, I love music more than most anything and want to play and teach piano for a living. I have no formal music education to speak of, and my skills are that of a beginner, though I seem to pick up technique rather quickly. I welcome any thoughts on how best to approach this transition -- specifically, I am undecided as to whether I should enroll in a degree program or whether I should dedicate myself to building my own skills through lessons and practice for the next few years and then attempt to teach. I greatly appreciate your input.

-- Michelle P (, July 29, 2003


You should dedicate yourself to building your own skills through lessons and practice for the next few years, read everything you can possibly find about music teaching, including this entire site and Martha Beth Lewis's entire site, then study music in college, and then attempt to teach.

-- anon (, July 29, 2003.

I would agree with the preceding advice. However, in reality, you probably won't have the money and time for the degree. Let's face it, if you want a personal life, it will be difficult to do all that. I'd say keep making money at your current job, and take weekly piano lessons, and practice about two hours a day. Also take some instruction in pedagogy as part of your program of study. The degree is a circuitous route.

I took my Bachelor of Music Degree, and did very well. The vast majority of my teaching knowledge did not come from there, but from my very good piano teacher. In fact, I learnt more about writing and critical thinking at university than anything else. The history courses offered a canvas on which to place my musical experiences, and perhaps I gained a few things personally, but all and all, it was a $60,000 drain on my bank account, and a lot of red tape.

Good luck to you. Anita

-- Anita (, July 29, 2003.

My college degree is the most important thing I've done in becoming a successful teacher. I didn't have any of the red tape experience and I had excellent preparation in learning how to teach through both coursework and practical supervised teaching throughout my degree.

You have the opportunity to both build your base of knowledge and develop as a pianist. It is enriching beyond belief and important because one does not just teach the piano, but how to listen and think critically and how to learn. In my opinion, it will take a lot longer to learn these things through years of experience.

If you are such a beginning pianist yourself, you should not yet be teaching. You must first develop your own skills so that you can teach from the broader long-range perspective. A child's first teacher is the most important one because that teacher is laying the foundation in every apsect of music study.

-- Arlene Steffen (, July 30, 2003.

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