Teaching music is a great way to learn more about the piano, and also more about yourself. As an instructor, you will learn how to better communicate ideas and information to others.
The beauty of education is that it’s a two-way street. If there is compatibility, both the teacher and the student benefit from the exchange. Teaching also requires adaptation and creativity because no two students are alike. Cookie-cutter methods just don’t, well, cut it. Individually tailored instruction is the best option when working with students of any age or skill level.
There is more to being a music teacher than just knowing how to play your instrument. Many factors contribute to a successful piano studio. Let’s go through the basics of how to achieve professionalism in all you do.
1. The Teaching Environment
The first thing to consider is your teaching space. The studio itself is critical to success. You must create a warm, comfortable, and inviting atmosphere.
Make sure you have a well-organized and welcoming teaching environment because first impressions cannot be erased. Work within the limitations of your space and keep it neat and uncluttered. Always have all your books and other materials on hand and well-cataloged. Organizing your time is important too. A messy and discombobulated teaching space will throw off your “rhythm” as a teacher and distract the student, especially if they are young children.
As a baseline, you must also have a quiet teaching space. Students can’t concentrate if there is extraneous noise in the room like a TV blasting in the background, or a barking dog. When a student arrives for their lesson, they should feel like they are entering a friendly, safe, and quiet environment. It should be an environment designed for their enjoyment and musical growth. A room that is well lit, attractive, clean, and noiseless, will set the right tone even before any instruction begins.
Next, if you are using an acoustic piano in your studio, make sure it is regularly tuned and well maintained. This should be a given, but sadly it is not. Real professionals know that all of their gear/equipment must be in excellent working order.
Lastly, try to make things as easy as possible for students, and their parents, to find and access your business. It’s a bad omen when you go to your first lesson, and you can’t even find the place. Use clearly labeled signs, an easy to find doorbell, an easy to spot address number, and more to make sure students make it to the lesson. And unless they are early, when a student arrives, be ready to start. Don’t make the student wait around while you futz with this or that. Remember, you can’t erase first impressions.
2. Demeanor and Attitude
Rule #1: Do No Harm.
Your job is to present an authentic version of yourself to your students, with one caveat. Leave your troubles at the door. It’s important to be upbeat, optimistic, positive, and affable no matter what is going on in your personal life.
You should charge the “going rate” for instruction, if not slightly higher. (I don’t believe in underselling.) But remember, in most cases, music lessons are not cheap for clients. Be aware of that. Students are shelling out good money for their education. Therefore, avoid lazy instruction. Earn your pay. Make each lesson not only productive but energizing. The student should leave thinking, “I can’t wait until next week!”
Also, no matter how the lesson goes, end each session on a compliment. This helps to build trust and boost students’ self-confidence. Also, it’s just plain old nice to do. Our job as teachers, heck people, is always to be a force for good.
All teachers should possess these four qualities:
3. Finding Students
So how do you get students? If you’re a professional, well-trained musician, you may be able to recruit students through takelessons.com.
You can check out our website for teachers at: https://takelessons.com/teachers.
You may also place ads in local newspapers, create a google “my business” profile, hand out business cards at public events, speak to school music instructors in your area, and get the word out through social media. Often, once you find a few students, word tends to get out in the community. Focus on delivering quality instruction, make sure students and parents go home happy and satisfied, and new students will begin to find you.
4. Remote Lessons (Zoom, FaceTime)
The COVID-19 pandemic may have one upside: it introduced teachers to the possibilities of remote lessons.
Yes, remote learning was happening before the pandemic, but the crisis encouraged many teachers to take online lessons more seriously. There is no need to exclusively work locally anymore. You can teach anyone anywhere on the planet. This is a total game-changer for music lessons.
At minimum, you need to make sure that you have wi-fi, a reliable computer (with a good camera), good lighting in your teaching studio, and a quality microphone to capture speaking and other audio. If you want to get fancy, multiple cameras, and various camera angles will take your online lessons to the next level.
Remote lessons are not for everyone though. Most young children (ages 5 – 7) do not thrive in this setting. They quite literally require a more hands-on approach. Exceptions to this may be precocious children. Even still, a parent or family member in the home should assist the student during these lessons.
If you follow these basic concepts and guidelines for starting your own piano studio, you will provide a service for others that is not only educational but truly inspiring!