Monday, August 24, 2009

Help A Rookie Teacher and Enter A Giveaway!

Do you remember your first year of teaching music? I have a new friend who is opening a piano studio this year and has asked for some mentoring. I'm betting that she'll be a great teacher because she's doing everything right so far. She's joined our local teacher's association, has already attended a workshop with Suzanne Guy at our local music store, and has arranged to observe some of the more established teachers in town. But, how wonderful it would be if she had some advice from all of you! So, please leave a comment with your best words of wisdom for a new piano teacher. Feel free to mention any aspect of teaching music.

And, to encourage your participation, I'll be giving away a copy of Suzanne Guy's book If You Would Add Beauty To The World, a lovely little book of thoughts on practicing and performing. Everyone who leaves a comment by noon on Monday 8/31/09 will be entered for a chance to win! I'll use random.org to pick a winner after noon on that day and will post the winner here. If the winner doesn't contact me within 5 days, I'll pick another winner, so be sure to check back!

Photo, "Eden: Piano Teacher in the Making" by gthills. Creative commons 2.0.

14 comments:

Laura said...

If you leave a comment, and your blogger ID is private, or has no blog or email attached to it, I have no way of contacting you if you win. So, be sure to check back after next Monday!

Laura said...

I'll start the advice rolling! Write a concise, but thorough policy and don't be afraid to enforce it.

Thomas J. West said...

The most difficult transition for a new teacher is teaching the material and simultaneously monitoring the student's response to what you are doing. Are they bored? Distracted? Enraptured? Getting it? The best approach is to talk less and do more. Keep explanations brief and give them more time to try what you are teaching. Above all, make sure that they feel like they learned something new by the end of every lesson.

Heather of Troy said...

Have a student-parent agreement that they both sign before beginning lessons with your policies clearly defined: practicing expectations, payment arrangements, make-up lessons, refunding canceled lessons (or not), etc.

Remember that your most important task is to inspire children (or adults) to love music. Most people who "quit" lessons say, "My teacher was really mean." Or something like that. Let your students know how much you care about them and let your love for music overflow into your students.

Always keep each student's individual needs in mind being willing to change "the way you always do things" to help them succeed.

Remember to always keep learning yourself!

natalie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
natalie said...

Set up a website so that students and their parents will have easy access to your policies, upcoming events, pictures, etc. This is an excellent and important mode of communication!

The free Music Teacher's Helper sites are a fabulous way to get started. I highly recommend their studio management system as well. It has saved me so much time and could have saved me many headaches my first few years of teaching. :-)

Looking forward to reading other great tips!

Laura said...

All great comments! Keep 'em coming!

The Neal Family said...

I was so glad for a tip from a friend to include a piano computer lab as part of my lessons when I started teaching lessons. It has really helped my students to have a solid knowledge of theory, while allowing me more time to cover other aspects of piano during the lesson. My first investment in Music Ace was well worth the $.

I also have loved all the "off the bench" engaging activities I've found from so many great websites and blogs. It helps keep the students excited about learning when they something a little fun to do at each lesson.

I also liked Randall Faber's ideas at a recent conference I attended. Piano helps build a child's confidence and identity when you remember to shower on the praise and don't criticize every single wrong thing you might notice that they do.

Heidi said...

Ask open-ended questions that make your students come up with the answers themselves. Let them think about possible solutions instead of always feeding them the answers. By giving them the tools to solve problems, we can help them learn to play any piece. This way you will set your students up for success. How often do we ask questions that already give our students the correct answer, instead of letting them investigave on their own until they reach an aha! moment of realizeation?

Natashia said...

It's always a good idea to meet with potential students and their parent(s) before they sign up for lessons. Remember, the student finds the teacher, but the teacher must also choose the student.

By conducting interviews you get a good idea of the musical abilities, learning styles, and personality of the student and can also address any questions the parent(s) might have.

The interview is also a good time to go over studio policies. One thing I have my parents do is sign a copy of the policies when they register for lessons, which I keep on file. This ensures that they read the studio policies and fully understand them. It also gives you ground to stand on if there are any issues down the road.

One of the key things I found helpful in the first interviews I conducted was remaining positive and excited about what you are offering. What you might lack in teaching experience, will be made up tenfold by your energy and commitment to your passion for sharing your love of music.

jabonnell said...

I agree with everything said about a strong studio policy. I think another thing that is important and fun for students is improvisation from the first lesson on.

Heidi said...

Exiting group lessons are really great for teaching students more theory and history. My students love them! Also important, have a nice, quiet studio. Distractions are real time wasters! Communicate often with your students. This helps prevent missed lessons and events!

Kris said...

This is all great advice! I have read through it all several times already, and something new jumps out at me every time. Thanks so much!

SaneAtHomeMom said...

I know the post is a bit old now and the contest is over, but I wanted to interject about the policies. I have a written one that I ask teachers and parents to sign, but of course, you have those busy parents who don't fully read it or they just don't expect it to come into play.
I speak to the policy too. I tell them I strictly adhere to it (I say this in person and in writing), so that they KNOW ahead of time that I WILL do what it says. I also tell them to be sure to read the sections on XY&Z.
I think this helps clearly communicate my intentions and how much I value my policy.