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Many pianists who study for years eventually have the urge to teach piano lessons. It’s a great way to make an income, and teaching helps make you better as a player too.
Pianists often wonder how to become a piano teacher, because there are quite a few things to consider. Below I’ll share with you what you need to do to become a successful piano teacher.
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Establish Why You Want To Become A Piano Teacher
There are all kinds of reasons for wanting to become a piano teacher. For some pianists, it’s a way to make a steady income. For others, it’s purely about inspiring the next generation of talented pianists.
Whichever reason you have for wanting to become a piano teacher, it’s important to know why before you embark on the journey. The last thing you should do is teach the piano if you really have no desire to.
There are alternative ways to make an income by playing the piano, just have a look at some ways to make money here playing the piano.
Take a moment and think about what teaching the piano means to you on a personal level. Write those ideas down and then analyze if teaching is really worth your investment of time and energy.
If you’ve concluded that teaching is definitely something you want to do, then it’s time to follow through on certifying yourself to teach.
Obtain The Right Music Education And Certifications
In the past, it was much easier to set up a piano studio and start teaching without much effort. You could simply reach out to family and friends, and offer a lesson to the community without having to prove yourself.
In this day and age, a music degree or certification is almost required to teach the piano to others. Music degrees can be obtained at a four-year college.
In those degree programs, you’re exposed to extensive music theory, performances, and even hands-on training in pedagogy programs.
The piano lessons that you take with a university professor are also invaluable, and you’ll learn techniques you otherwise would not learn in any other setting.
A piano pedagogy degree is certainly helpful if you want to be seen as an expert on teaching. Performance degrees and even basic Bachelors degrees in general music also work fine.
For some pianists who have already gone through college, going back to school is not an option. Therefore it’s wise to get some sort of certification to help build your credibility.
You could take a written exam, do a quick performance certificate, join a music festival and much more to obtain some sort of credit to your name. All of these things help build your resume so that you can recruit students more effectively. Read here to learn all about getting more piano students.
Gain Hands-On Teaching Experience
An often overlooked step in becoming a piano teacher is gaining teaching experience before applying for a teaching position. While most degree programs offer this training, there are some cases where this does not happen.
If you’re in a degree program, see if there is a community outreach program you can join through the university. Volunteer at a local Boys and Girls Club, or reach out to a church. Whatever you can do to get students to work with is important.
For those who are not taking the college route, I suggest reaching out to your family members or neighbors and offering to teach piano lessons to them at a discount. Use this opportunity to work with students and see how well you can develop them from the very start.
Doing this will unveil a lot about your own teaching, and help you find areas to improve. This also provides invaluable experience in the profession before jumping into it full time.
This experience also makes you look more attractive to established teaching businesses looking to hire instructors.
Apply For A Teaching Position
Once a pianist has some good experience teaching, it’s time to apply for a teaching position. The experience you have will not only help during the job interview process, but it’ll also make you more prepared than if you hadn’t gotten that experience.
A good place to look for job postings is at local music stores and area shops. Most businesses also use job listing services like Indeed and ZipRecruiter to gain more traction too.
When applying for the position make sure to have a complete resume ready. The resume should list all of your accomplishments, your credentials, previous teaching experience, and a cover letter as well.
To improve your chances of being hired, make sure to have a clear vision of what you want your students to achieve. Businesses need to retain clients, so they are looking for employees who will put forth their best effort to maintain students and progress them further!
Opening Your Own Piano Studio
Some pianists may have a desire to open their own piano studio. In this case, a lot more work is involved, but the results are much more rewarding. Below are a couple of things you want to have in place if you plan to open your own piano studio.
No piano studio succeeds without a clear and concise studio policy. Studio policies help keep everything in order and establish some important rules.
A few things you could include in your studio policy include:
- Cancellation policies
- Makeup lessons
- Behavioral expectations
- Payments & Tuition
- Registration Fees
- Photo And Video Release Consent
Cancellations need to be clearly laid out in your studio policy so that you are not constantly in a situation where you need to refund a student.
Makeup lessons fall along the same lines, and a standard needs to be established there so that students are not taking advantage of the system.
There should always be a high standard for behavior in lessons. Especially when teaching a large number of students, it’s not unreasonable to have to end a lesson early because of bad behavior without a refund.
Payments and tuition schedules and terms need to be established from the very beginning. Do you want to collect money upfront or after a lesson is taught?
These are things you need to figure out and put in your studio policy so that there is a consistent order of business.
The same can be said for registration fees. Those fees not only include starting lessons, but also include recital fees, competition fees, material fees, and anything else you deem necessary.
Lastly, there needs to be a photo and video consent agreement in your studio policy. These allow you to use those materials in advertisements and promotional materials to continue building your piano studio and drive more business to it.
To help distinguish your piano studio from the rest, it helps to have a mission statement. This is something that you can add to your piano studio website, or even in advertising material.
Missions statements should include your overall teaching philosophy. They should paint a picture for prospective piano students so they know exactly what your piano studio offers. This alone can seal the deal for you when trying to build up your student roster.
Piano studios that offer an initial interview tend to do much better than studios who take just anyone.
The interview can be simple, and even involve a free mini-lesson with the student. This is a chance for both parties to feel out the situation and determine if you should move forward.
Payment plans and tuition can also be discussed, modified, and agreed upon at this point. Scheduling can also be finalized during the interview process as well.
In general, it’s a good idea to do this, because it helps establish good communication early on.
In order to draw more students to your piano studio, you will need to advertise. There are all kinds of platforms to use from Facebook ads to Google ads.
Classified listings and even word of mouth go a long way in driving more business. Anything from reaching out to schools, churches, music stores, and even presenting at conferences is an opportunity to promote your services.
When running a studio, you’ll want to set aside time for promoting your business whenever possible.
Your piano studio needs quality instruments in order to succeed. Make sure that you have access to at least one grand piano and one upright piano. Grand pianos are necessary if you plan on teaching advanced studios.
If you plan to purchase used pianos, make sure that they are inspected and function well. Also, make sure that you are paying a fair price for the instrument. Here’s how to negotiate a buying price for a piano.
To stay in business you will need to offer competitive rates for piano lessons. This is how many piano teachers usually charge for piano lessons.
If other teachers in your area with similar experience are teaching for $100, consider undercutting them at $95. This is just an example, but the point is that you can use the competition to your advantage.
Make sure not to sell yourself short though. Parents will be looking for a bargain, and it will be hard to ever raise rates in the future or maintain them as long as others who pay more.
Also, lower lesson prices sometimes give off the false impression that your lessons are not of high quality. Try to be reasonable with this decision.
A solid scheduling system is important when you’re a piano teacher. There are plenty of software apps available like Mindbody and vCita. These programs allow piano teachers to adjust lesson times, offer discounts, process payments, and more all in one place.
This really helps when you are doing the accounting yourself as a piano instructor. Everything can be tied to automated email communication too. This makes it easier to focus on teaching, and take care of large tasks with just the click of a button.
How To Become A Better Piano Teacher
Once you’ve become a piano instructor, you have to find ways to become better. This is not only a huge benefit for you as the instructor, but it helps with improving your students too. Here are a few helpful tips to become a better piano teacher even if you’re just starting out.
Focus On Lesson Planning
Lessons planning for each student makes teaching much easier. This allows you to set short term and long term goals and map out each lesson effectively.
Teachers who don’t lesson plan have a tough time keeping on track during lessons, and a lot of time can end up being wasted.
When planning, always focus on warmups, rhythm practice, sight reading, and then the repertoire. Some piano teachers will use timings to help keep them on track with teaching.
If you use a laptop when teaching, you’ll be able to make edits in real time to the lesson plan and assignment sheets.
Always Keep Piano Lessons Interesting
Piano teachers should always try to keep their lessons interesting. When dealing with young students, this is particularly important.
You could work in some piano related games, and other activities other than just sitting down and playing. The kind of repertoire the students learn also affects the interest during lessons.
Students will primarily study the classical playing style, but there are awesome arrangements of piano music out there by Faber you could work in.
From Disney tunes to pop arrangements, it’s always a good idea to mix up the repertoire to keep students engaged. Have a look at these beginner books to see what other options are out there.
Evaluate Your Teaching
It’s never a good idea to get complacent with your piano teacher. Piano teachers need to constantly evaluate their teaching, and look for ways to improve themselves.
I recommend recording your lessons at least once per month and watching them. Things you will want to look for are how effective you were at delivering your lesson plan.
Also, focus on the language you use, and if the student remains engaged throughout the lesson. Because each student has a different personality, piano teachers need to adapt differently to each one.
Do You Need A Degree To Teach Piano? A music degree is not a requirement to start a piano teaching business. However, if you don’t have some of that knowledge, it will be tough to ever teach any advanced students.
If you want to attract more advanced clients and earn more pay for teaching, a degree definitely matters.
How Much Should I Charge For Piano Lessons? Piano lessons typically cost anywhere from $25 – $60 per half hour. What you charge is based on your certifications, the market, location, and length of the piano lessons.