Teaching Piano Lessons without Degree

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I'm wondering if I could teach piano lessons to beginners without having an actual degree. I played my whole life growing up, majored in music for two years but never finished my bachelors degree. Now, 20 yrs later, I still play occasionally but not like I used to but I know that I could teach beginners with no problem. What do you think?

-- Robin Stritenberger (Robin.Stritenberger@notes.udayton.com), February 07, 2005


I don't think a degree is essential for a person to become a fine piano teacher. But competency, love for music and students, patience, creativity, and the willingness to continue learning are all essential! The part of your post that concerns me is that you only play occasionally---which would cause me to wonder about your passion for piano as well as your current level of competency. Also, being able to play and being able to teach are two totally different things. I would suggest that you find a teacher for yourself, who could help you not only get your own playing back up to snuff, but who could also mentor you as a teacher. S/he could help you become familiar with materials available today (they've certainly changed in 20 years!), give you teaching tips, how to go through a new piece with a beginner, how to incorporate today's technology into teaching, etc etc. Also, join a local teacher's group, subscribe to teaching magazines (my first and second favorites are Keyboard Companion and Clavier), order some teaching textbooks from Amazon ("Practical Piano Pedagogy" by Martha Baker Jordan); continue asking questions in online support groups such as this one and others; have a written studio policy that covers *everything* you can think of, like absences, will you offer makeup lessons, mandatory or optional participation in recitals, snow days, late penalties for late payments, practice requirements, grounds for dismissal, can parents/siblings wait in your house during lessons, do you require a piano or is a keyboard acceptable, etc etc. Lots to think about, and it's better to have these things thought out and in writing ahead of time!

-- annie (no_name_poster@yahoo.com), February 10, 2005.

Annie's given you a lot of good advice. Also, take the time to think about and write out a business plan--what are your goals for this business? How many hours do you want to work, how much do you wish to make, and so forth.

I agree about the degree issue. Knowledge is not necessarily enough, a good teacher needs to be able to get the information across to a wide variety of students, not just the ones who can pick it up the first time--with those, you're not teaching, you're presenting, and anyone who can read can do that. The more personal educational development classes you can take, the more it can help you with exposing you to different ways of explaining things. Look at how many students have trouble with math and art, students who are otherwise very bright in other subjects. I don't expect that every student will excel in every subject, but most students, with the right teacher, can and should at least reach a minimum level of competence.

I'd also look into finding something that will get you playing regularly again, like playing at church, or offering to play at a local nursing home or assisted living facility on a regular basis.

-- GT (nospam@nospam.com), February 10, 2005.

I am also where you are. I love to play the piano. When I got married I moved away from the only piano I had so I stopped playing for 5 years. My house is small so I could never get a big piano. My husband suprised me with a ditigal piano a year ago and I have been playing ever since. My parents use to tell me that I should teach piano. I don't have a degree but feel that I could make a great piano teacher. My problem is that I haven't been to a teacher in 20 years and so I am not sure of how to start. Meaning what material to use.

-- Samantha Meadows (Samantham25@hotmail.com), February 18, 2005.

You're not ready to teach. Being able to play doesn't = being able to teach.

Try to find a pedagogy class in your area or, at the very least, do lots of reading about piano teaching and connect with the local teacher's association.

-- Arlene Steffen (asteffen@fresno.edu), February 23, 2005.

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