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how do i get started teaching? (Read 3543 times)

Offline Colette

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how do i get started teaching?
« on: September 20, 2002, 04:00:01 AM »
i want to start teaching, but im not sure how to go about starting the process. i can teach any level, but i'm worried about taking in beginners. if you don't teach somebody well the first time out, their whole playing potential could be compromised. i don't know if i'm up to the challenge...how do you recommend teaching beginners---even complete beginners how to read music and such? also, whats the best way to find students?

Offline Mandy

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Re: how do i get started teaching?
«Reply #1 on: September 20, 2002, 08:36:07 AM »
Well, there are many things you can do to get started....and believe me, once they start calling.....it will NEVER stop!!!  What kind of centre do you live in.....big city, small town?  This can determine which approach might work better for getting students.

My first piece of advice is, in order to be a good teacher, you need to see good teaching-it would be a good idea to observe another teacher in his/her own studio-on a weekly basis.  I know this seems like a big commitment, but it will help you alot with ideas, and different approaches to teaching.  It's also important to see the effect that good teaching has on the students from week to week.

If you are in a big city, you could call some of the other piano teachers in the area, likely, by now many of them will have full studios, especially the ones with excellent reputations.  They will be getting lots of calls that they could refer to you.  You might also want to check with the music department of some locals colleges and universities-they too will likely get lots of calls, with not enough student teachers to teach.  Get to know the keyboard faculty, they will undoubtedly be able to help you out.  Also, join the MTNA chapter of your area, if you have one-they will also be able to provide a great list of people to contact.  If you're not in the US, then there must be some kind of music teacher association you could join from your country which could provide you with the same service.

You could also call the public school music teachers and see if they would be willing to hand out a flyer home-you could put an ad in the paper, at the local music stores, churches, etc.  A large part about running your business is advertising-many times we don't really think about it, but it's very important.  

If you are in a small town and don't have the resources of a large university of college, then you should turn to the other private teachers in the area.  Once you start getting students, they will just keep coming!

I currently have a small studio because I have just started work on my masters and have moved to a new city-I have 6 beginners, and 4 late elementary/intermediate students.  I didn't think that I would enjoy teaching beginners, but have since come to love it.  It's not hard to teach kids the basics of piano playing in a positive and solid way, I think that some teachers just get lazy, don't have the patience, etc, to stick with coming up with some new creative way each week to get them to curve their fingers or sit up tall.  You as their first teacher will light that spark for their love of music, and that to me is the greatest reward of seeing them play each week.  

While it can be trying at times to listen to the same 5 finger melody each week from 6 kids, I get so much energy from them that it inspires me to be a better teacher, and performer.  I also really enjoy the time I spend with the other 4 kids-working on "actual" pieces and seeing their progress is also very rewarding.  

A book you might want to think about getting is:  The Well-Tempered Keyboard Teacher by Uszler, Gordon, McBride.  It is excellent for ideas with every level of student, good evaluations  of methods, ideas for rep, technique, and a history of keyboard pedagogy.  A definate must-have for every piano teacher, I think.

For my beginners, I like the Faber: Piano Adventures, and Hal Leonard series the best.  Get the kids some kind of book for them to work out of.  Young kids, 6-7 will need lots of variety in their lessons-have them march to the beat, clap and ta, draw pictures then make up a piece, do lots away from the piano and try to avoid having a tell-all lesson: where you explain then they do.  Kids need to feel everything, and need lots of reinforcement in many different ways.  Use rhythm sticks. and teach them some songs by rote to help develop their ears-use your imagination.  One trick I use for teaching hand position in the first few lessons is to pretend we are holding a bubble-if we close our hands we pop it, if we flatten it out too much then it will fly away...whenever I see their hands doing one of those things while playing, I "blow" the bubble back up by blowing into my hand, and the child knows that it means they need to blow theirs back up-the hands get fixed instantly, and pretty soon they will start blowing their own bubbles back up without any help from the teacher.

Don't forget to make a clear studio policy where you outline your so-called "rules and regulations":  i.e. practicing policy, attendance, tuition, teacher expectations.  

Hope this helps, if you need anything else or have any other questions, ask away!

Offline Colette

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Re: how do i get started teaching?
«Reply #2 on: September 20, 2002, 09:50:06 PM »
thank you so much for your advice. it really helped, and i will try many of the methods you suggested. i'll plaster brooklyn and manhattan (yup i live in a big city---NY) with fliers, make some calls to local teachers, associations, colleges, etc. luckily, i have a great teacher, so i'm always witnessing skillful teaching. that's definitely a plus. i'm still not sure about teaching kids to read music, but i guess if i have a good guide, and get some more advice from my teacher i can do it....what's the best way to learn notes and note values? flash cards? will young kids really take the time to learn this stuff?

Offline MzrtMusic

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Re: how do i get started teaching?
«Reply #3 on: September 21, 2002, 12:16:11 AM »
Opening a new studio can be kinda scary... But, it's also very rewarding. With my students, I do many different things, but what seems to work the best to teach children how to count is to play a quarter note while counting aloud, and then have them do the same thing. With a half note, you demonstrate, again counting aloud and having them repeat. Most kids can grasp the fact that two is more than one, and so a note that gets two counts is longer than a note that get's one count. About remembering the names, just review them, and they will come!! I also like to take them away from the piano, and on the floor or a table, clap out the beats. Whenever your right hand plays a note, you tap your right hand on the floor, and hold for the right number of beats, and the same for your left hand. That helps because you don't have to deal with right notes, and hand positions, and dynamics...

Hope that helps!

Love,

Sarah

P.S. As a side note, I highyl reccomend the Alfred Prep Course. They have seven books for you to choose from, and it's specifically heared to younger kids, so everything is presented in a format that's easy for them to understand!
My heart is full of many things...there are moments when I feel that speech is nothing after all.
-- Ludwig Van Beethoven

Offline ludwig

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Re: how do i get started teaching?
«Reply #4 on: September 21, 2002, 09:10:39 AM »

about teaching real beginers music, by this you mean that they have no musical past at all right? well, like MzrtMusic said, you could start with rhythm, making up some simple rhythm patterns, and perhaps even some graphic notations underneath like lines with different lengths, and get them to play it on a single note, I suppose clapping and tapping could work, but there's a problem with the long notes, you can't really clap 4 beats. Perhaps get them to sing it.. then you could show them the stave and its elements, and just demonstrating simple songs on the piano, get them to sing it with you, and then playing it. This is the music reading part of it. yeah I think if you learn from doing, they'll be interested and have time to do this without getting bored.

About observation lessons, I really recommend it like Mandy suggested. Sit in on some of your piano teacher's lessons, get her to contact some of her piano teacher friends, and sit in on their lessons. You'll pick up some helpful hints, goodluck with it =)
"Classical music snobs are some of the snobbiest snobs of all. Often their snobbery masquerades as helpfulnes... unaware that they are making you feel small in order to make themselves feel big..."ÜÜÜ

Offline Mandy

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Re: how do i get started teaching?
«Reply #5 on: September 21, 2002, 06:14:40 PM »
Teaching kids to read music is not as hard you think it is.  Like I said, a good method book will help you out greatly with this.  Piano Adventures and Hal Leonard I believe do this the best way, I find the others have the kids reading on the staff too soon-THERE IS NO RUSH!!

This is what we do in the first few lessons of the program I teach in:  (these are my lesson plans!)
Lesson one
1) Introduction with the child-as them how their day/weekend was, etc....
2)clap the steady beat.  Get them to march, clap, tap on knees, pat their back, etc....all quarter notes.  They also should say TA with each beat, this helps to reinforce what they are feeling.  
3) talk about good piano position:  sit up tall, feet on floor (if they can't reach-find a big phone book), hold the bubble in your hand,etc...
4)finger wiggle game:  "Tap your 2s, just like me, touch your nose with 3, etc"  Talk about RH and LH, they will have trouble with that!
5) Explore the keyboard-groups of 2 and 3 black keys....make rainbows (which emphasizes right from the start the concept of drop/lift and arm weigth)  High and low sounds.  First start with just one hand at a time, but then do hand over hand.
6) Make up a song for 3 black keys-we use "3 black cats"  Which consists of playing in the rh 4,3,2.  
7)finger wiggle game again off bench-sing a song:  I use busy bees:  "Busy bees are buzzing, buzzing in the hive, how many bees can you count, one,two, three,four,five."  You start with your thumb tucked into your palm, and then when you count the bees, you pop the finger number out.  I sing it with them.
8)learn black key piece from book.
9)high and low-what animals make high and low sounds?  For next week, draw a picture of your favorite animal, and make up a song.  Ask them to name some animals, and find the sounds on the piano
10)reinforce steady beat-ask them if they can think of anything that has a  steady beat: clock, your heart, etc.  

As you can see, there are many different activities.  There is no reason why in the first few lessons you need to push them to read quarters and halfs-most of them will have trouble with that.  If they feel it, but clapping the beat and saying ta,   when you introduce half notes, they say ta-ah, and on the clap, they push their arms out.  Ibet most kids will know this from school, all of mine did.  Always, they need to be doing more than one thing when feeling the beat.  Put on a piece of music-get a good kids cd-and march with them, swing their arms to beat.  Make it  a game...."can you find the beat?  How fast can you find it?"

Make sure your entire lesson isn't stuck at the piano-let them colour, move around, do things like finger numbers away from the piano,anything you don't need the piano for, don't use it.  Half an  hour is a very long time for little kids, and you need to keep the lessons fast paced with lots of activities.  

Don't just stick to what the book says, suplement, make stuff up, do some learning by rote-this will greatly develop their ears. you don't need to do every page in the book.

For observing, it would be a good idea to observe other teachers than your own, you will get lots of creative ideas from othe people and it's good to see other methods and ways of doing things.  You may realize that some of the things your teacher was doing, didn't work as well as what someone else was doing.

NYC, you shouldn't have any problems finding students!  If you have any more questions, or need any more ideas, be sure to ask!

Offline Karin

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Re: how do i get started teaching?
«Reply #6 on: January 06, 2003, 07:45:27 PM »
I placed a call with a local music school.  The person that answered my call said IF any teachers would allow me to observe a class they would call me.  My answering machine light is not blinking.   :'(

No doubt, they've been trying very hard to contact me but are getting a busy signal since I'm online.   :)

Karin

Offline musicdenise

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Re: how do i get started teaching?
«Reply #7 on: January 20, 2003, 10:16:26 PM »
I myself just quit my full-time job in order to teach piano!  I had 8 students when I turned in my notice and now, 2 weeks later, I will be starting February with 15!  Word of mouth seems to be the fastest way of getting the word out.  Whoever said that once the calls start coming, they won't stop, was right!  Have some business cards made and give them  out to the parents of the students you have now.  Give them 2, tell them, one to keep and one to give.  Put a flyer or business card up wherever they'll allow you to.  Grocery stores, book stores, music stores, dollar stores.  If you were a stay-at-home mom, where would you shop?  Put one up there.

I'm getting lots of ideas from this post as well, keep the advice coming!

Offline Karin

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Re: how do i get started teaching?
«Reply #8 on: February 06, 2003, 06:16:42 PM »
Quick help please!
I've been allowed to observe a class at a conservatory, possibly very soon.  

I thought maybe I should have chocolates for the teacher and student, look professional, take notes, review the teacher's bio.....anything else?  

Thanks! Karin

Offline glamfolk

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Re: how do i get started teaching?
«Reply #9 on: February 26, 2003, 04:39:21 AM »
Sitting in on another teacher's lesson is a good idea, but it sounds like your local teachers are a little put off by it.  Don't worry about it.  Mandy's ideas are really good ones.  There.  Now you don't have to sit in on a lesson. :)  I always introduce rhythm first.  Have them tap along to the radio, and let them know how important rhythm is.  I spend the first couple of weeks just with reading rhythms.  Impress upon them that rhythm does not stop, and they must find it and stay with it.

All I did to start was put an ad in the local paper, and talk to the local high schools and grade schools.  Pretty minimal startup costs.

Good luck!