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How does one become a piano teacher? (Read 2063 times)

Offline maxim3

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How does one become a piano teacher?
« on: June 03, 2019, 08:00:00 PM »
How exactly does one become a minimally qualified piano teacher? I'm afraid I can't quite figure it out from RCM website, it seems there are many ways, levels, etc.

Frankly I believe this is beyond my reach, but I'm just curious.


Offline klavieronin

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Re: How does one become a piano teacher?
«Reply #1 on: June 03, 2019, 10:01:17 PM »
IMHO the only way to become a 'qualified' piano teacher is to have a few years experience teaching piano. Teaching a musical instrument is not like being an electrician or a nurse or something. You don't need a license. If you can get people in the door then you are a piano teacher but you won't learn to teach properly without actually doing it and that takes time and experience to learn how to do it well. I have a university music degree, which included studies in pedagogy, and I've being teaching piano for 10 years yet I'm still learning.

If I can offer some advice, if you are thinking about starting teaching, offer some free lesson first to friends or family or people who know you aren't 'qualified' just to test the waters. Then if you want to start charging people make sure you are prepared and have a plan for students at various levels. Flexibility is essential here because every student with be different. Also think hard about how you want your business to operate; prices, cancellation fees, teaching hours, etc. Everything you can think of about about teaching and running a tutoring business, try to plan for as best you can before you start. You'll never be fully prepared but it's but to be a little prepared than no at all.

But in terms of 'Qualifications' (like a diploma or something), the only reason you might want one is for advertising purposes. It will help get people in the door but what will keep the coming back is giving good, effective, and enjoyable lessons.

Offline maxim3

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Re: How does one become a piano teacher?
«Reply #2 on: June 04, 2019, 04:26:29 AM »
I completely understand and agree with you. To jump to an extreme illustration of part of your position, I myself would be perfectly willing to take lessons from a teacher who had no formal qualifications at all, but had proved his worth in other ways. I'm sure there have been many such teachers, and there always will be.

But I'm just a self-taught, slow-learning schmo currently at around a grade 2 level for repertoire, and maybe grade 4 for technical requirements. I have no real talent for playing or learning the piano (but I flatter myself that I have a bit of a thing for composing). I wouldn't dream of offering lessons to anyone until some recognized institution gave me a certificate which said "qualified to teach beginners." It's just the way I'm wired.

I like the idea, though, since teaching of one kind or another is how I've earned my living all my life (don't ask for details, I'm secretive by nature) and I enjoy it a lot.

Offline klavieronin

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Re: How does one become a piano teacher?
«Reply #3 on: June 04, 2019, 06:15:02 AM »
I'm just a self-taught, slow-learning schmo currently at around a grade 2 level for repertoire, and maybe grade 4 for technical requirements.

Definitely too early to start thinking about teaching. Even to teach beginners you'll want to be playing repertoire at least around grade 8 level. And sight reading around grade 3 or 4 repertoire.

Offline maxim3

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Re: How does one become a piano teacher?
«Reply #4 on: June 04, 2019, 04:06:52 PM »
That's exactly the sort of answer I was seeking. Thank you.

Offline keypeg

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Re: How does one become a piano teacher?
«Reply #5 on: June 10, 2019, 10:44:48 PM »
Just anecdotal.  For a number of years I've been following my teacher' pedagogy, among other things, and have a pretty good sense of it.  I'm told I probably could teach piano and might be good at it, esp. for the foundational level which interests me. So ....

.... last week I was chatting with someone, and that person's child wanted to learn piano.  We talked about pianos, and since we were near my home I invited them to have a look at my dp.  Child was nearby so mom invited the child to come in with her.   Child runs up to my piano excitedly. "Can I play?" (starts to play random notes)  Was playing outdoors.  I say to wash his hands.  I happen to have some of my teacher's beginner material so, wanting to test this out - out of curiosity.  I introduce "lines" (1st, 2nd middle, up the staff).  Find 3rd line.  Child is counting horizontally. Ah - bar lines are lines too.  Note to self:  If teaching - establish protocol.  Wash hands first.  Dry hands.  Listen to instructions.  Actually listen.  Now I understand even better why my teacher checks in various ways whether he has been understood, and doesn't just assume it.  Note to self.  Music has vertical and horizontal lines.  :D

Offline j_tour

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Re: How does one become a piano teacher?
«Reply #6 on: June 11, 2019, 04:20:55 AM »
Well, I think the basics have been covered above, so I'll just state the first (and possibly only) requirement:

Get some students.

Actually, that's not as silly as it sounds. 

Now, you're not going to end up teaching at a conservatory that way, or even mentoring students through graded performances.

But, as long as they pay, they're your students.

Therefore you're a teacher.

What kind of teacher?  Couldn't say. 

You should also try to be good at teaching:  students notice that kind of thing. 

No, I'm not really joking, either.  It's pretty simple if you're known around town, people have heard you play live, etc.

And to quote from the classic movie Road House:  "Be nice.  Until it's time to not be nice."

And have some business cards printed.
My name is Nellie, and I take pride in helping protect the children of my community through active leadership roles in my local church and in the Boy Scouts of America.  Bad word make me sad.

Offline georgey

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Re: How does one become a piano teacher?
«Reply #7 on: June 16, 2019, 09:06:22 PM »
Definitely too early to start thinking about teaching. Even to teach beginners you'll want to be playing repertoire at least around grade 8 level. And sight reading around grade 3 or 4 repertoire.

Absolutely agree!  Pay your dues first, then teach.  Hopefully OP is working with a teacher now.

Offline sucom

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Re: How does one become a piano teacher?
«Reply #8 on: September 14, 2019, 09:50:31 PM »
In my view, if you can reach and pass Grade 8, then it's likely you won't do too bad a job of teaching beginner piano students and you will only get better as you gain experience.

To answer your question though, ask yourself what kind of teacher would you wish to find for your own learning?  Would you want a teacher with very little skills or knowledge or would you want a teacher you feel you can trust to help you reach your full potential? 

If you set yourself up as a piano teacher, you owe it to yourself and to future students that you are indeed equipped to do the very best for them that you can.  So rather than ask what the minimal requirements are (and there aren't any really because anyone can set themselves up as a piano teacher) ask yourself if you do indeed have what it takes to help a talented child maximise their potential.  By far the majority of students aren't looking to be concert pianists, but there are a few of them out there and you may find one on your doorstep.  Would they deserve good quality teaching?  Could you provide that?  If yes, you're ready to teach!  If no, keep practising! :)

Offline lostinidlewonder

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Re: How does one become a piano teacher?
«Reply #9 on: September 15, 2019, 04:37:50 AM »
I go against the grain a little in saying that the best way is "doing", experience with teaching others itself. Of course qualifications and certificates help but ultimately you will need to experience what it is like to teach someone and use that as the main source of education.
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Offline Bob

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Re: How does one become a piano teacher?
«Reply #10 on: September 16, 2019, 11:00:55 PM »
You just start teaching.  Someone will pay you.  Someone is looking for someone who charges less than others.  You probably won't and can't charge as much as others if you no experience.  Some parents won't care.  The student might not care.  You could teach for free.  It just depends what your comfortable with. For whatever a set standard is, you can always do or attain more.  There's always another degree or certificate to buy.   I found it helpful to have a teacher guiding things at the start, but even that could be substituted with advice a place like this.  If it's a beginner, there's essentially a do to list for the first few lessons and then you follow a method book.  By then you're done.

Some people perform well and don't know much about teaching.  They can still make a lot of money, whether their students progress of not.  If you get enough students, some will naturally do better regardless of what the teacher does.  So performing well is one way.  Not great for the students, but it is some kind of teaching.

Don't get too wrapped up on it being perfect or doing what's best for the students.  Some just don't care and whatever they get for lessons will be it forever.  You could take that as an opportunity to hone your teaching skills a bit or just to make some money.  One thing that's helped me for that line of thinking is telling them I'm more of a guide.  I can tell them things, what works for other students, what works/worked for me, etc. but.... Depending on what their goals are, what I know might not be a match.  Ultimately, it's up to them.
Favorite new teacher quote -- "You found the only possible wrong answer."

Offline keypeg

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Re: How does one become a piano teacher?
«Reply #11 on: September 17, 2019, 02:11:22 PM »
You just start teaching.  Someone will pay you.  Someone is looking for someone who charges less than others.  You probably won't and can't charge as much as others if you no experience.  Some parents won't care.  The student might not care.  You could teach for free.
Please, no!  Some of us have been victims of persons who "just started 'teaching' " or know someone who has.  The purpose of teaching is not that of making money by having students come, you do who knows what but you don't yourself know, and if people come and you gets your money, hurrah. The purpose of teaching is to help a student learn how to play an instrument; you have to have an idea of how to do that.  The student's learning counts!

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If it's a beginner, there's essentially a do to list for the first few lessons and then you follow a method book.  By then you're done.
By beginner, you mean the person who has to have every single thing established, to get them well on the road because that's the foundation everything else rests topples on?

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Some people perform well and don't know much about teaching.  They can still make a lot of money, whether their students progress of not. 

...  Not great for the students, but it is some kind of teaching.
It is not just about "making money".  And no, it is not any kind of "teaching".  Is there no professional ethics?  Btw, it's also not great for the next teacher who has to try and untangle the mess.

Are you really that cynical?

Offline j_tour

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Re: How does one become a piano teacher?
«Reply #12 on: September 17, 2019, 07:32:45 PM »
Please, no!  Some of us have been victims of persons who "just started 'teaching' " or know someone who has.  The purpose of teaching is not that of making money by having students come, you do who knows what but you don't yourself know, and if people come and you gets your money, hurrah.

Well, then you learned well. 

Maybe it wasn't what you paid for, but you learned a lesson.

The purpose of teaching is to help a student learn how to play an instrument; you have to have an idea of how to do that.  The student's learning counts!

Agree.  That's what being a good teacher, or in my view, a good human being is all about.

By beginner, you mean the person who has to have every single thing established, to get them well on the road because that's the foundation everything else rests topples on?
It is not just about "making money".  And no, it is not any kind of "teaching".  Is there no professional ethics?  Btw, it's also not great for the next teacher who has to try and untangle the mess.

Are you really that cynical?

Well, I am. 

You pays your money, you takes your shot.

It's like in life:  some people will burn you and some people will pay out.

That's the main reason I don't teach younger kids — I don't want that responsibility, I'm not fit for it, and I can only comprehend their level of suggestibility by remembering back to when I was their age.

My name is Nellie, and I take pride in helping protect the children of my community through active leadership roles in my local church and in the Boy Scouts of America.  Bad word make me sad.

Offline keypeg

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Re: How does one become a piano teacher?
«Reply #13 on: September 17, 2019, 09:26:06 PM »
Well, then you learned well. 
Learned well? The instrument where I took lessons, I didn't touch it for ten years.  I have managed to undo some of the damage through what I learned since.  It's a long road, and much harder than if I had been taught as should be.  Any teacher who has had to remediate due to such things will testify how difficult it is.

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Maybe it wasn't what you paid for, but you learned a lesson.
But hold on, you seem to be addressing the student end of it.  This is the teacher forum and we are discussing teaching.  The bottom line is that if someone sets out to teach, they should have an idea of teaching.  You don't just go out and "try it" and a novice considering teaching should not be told that it doesn't matter if students get ruined.  This is wrong.

I have two professions that I am trained and certified in.  Teaching is one of them.  There is such a thing as professional integrity and professionalism, and also responsibility.  In my other profession where I work independently, I don't take on any job unless I can do it properly, because what you do affects your customer (or student).  Teaching can be a profession, or it can deteriorate into something wishy washy - this is where the professional community comes in, advising novices coming into the field.

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You pays your money, you takes your shot.

It's like in life:  some people will burn you and some people will pay out.
Caveat emptor.  But here we're not with the emptor, but the vendor.  The person asking the question was being responsible, and I respect him for asking it.  I don't know what to do with the answer I was responding to.

Quote
That's the main reason I don't teach younger kids — I don't want that responsibility, I'm not fit for it, and I can only comprehend their level of suggestibility by remembering back to when I was their age.
That, to me, is a professional attitude.  :)

Offline j_tour

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Re: How does one become a piano teacher?
«Reply #14 on: September 17, 2019, 11:10:29 PM »
But hold on, you seem to be addressing the student end of it.  This is the teacher forum and we are discussing teaching.

Well, your criticism is taken very well.

Yes, the OP did seem to be coming from the point of view of a student trying to become a teacher, so I tried to respond accordingly. 

But, yes, you're not wrong. 

I'm not so sure there is such a clean line between student-hood and pedagogy, except in theory (after all, what is one of the main activities of someone pursuing an advanced degree?  typically, it's lecturing, or at least providing instruction of pupils of a lower level of education or experience) but nor am I sure there's not a value in discussing teaching as its own discipline.

That's enormously interesting, and, as you say, is an art unto itself:  how does one learn how to learn to teach?

Just like other disciplines, it has its own idioms and truisms and tricks of the trade.

But, at this level of generality, I still think the line is a bit thin.  We're not quite talking "how do I decide to maintain a strict demeanor after I've become too personal or familiar with a student," or "what should I do about a student who doesn't have a practice instrument with a sostenuto pedal?" or "what happens that my local brick and mortar music store closed, how can I apply for a ten percent discount from online shops?"

But, yes, I agree with you.

I don't know what to do with the answer I was responding to.

Well, I would say you should agree I'm basically right, except in that we're talking at different levels of generality:  you're talking whole ethics, and a Lebenspraxis, and I'm just saying brass tacks, like "OK, teaching...well, first thing, buy some pencils."

I don't think either of us are wrong.  But I can admit to having a cynical view.  You know, "how much does it cost me, how much can I deduct from my quarterly SE taxes," and grudgingly admit that there is no better feeling than helping someone achieve his or her goals.
My name is Nellie, and I take pride in helping protect the children of my community through active leadership roles in my local church and in the Boy Scouts of America.  Bad word make me sad.

Offline keypeg

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Re: How does one become a piano teacher?
«Reply #15 on: September 18, 2019, 12:48:24 AM »
I was thinking about this while taking a long walk today.  The caveat emptor part, where you said I learned a lesson - there are two parts: students (/parents) and teachers.  On the students (/parents) side, I did indeed learn through those experiences.  I have tried over the years to pass that on to others who will be / are taking music lessons, so that they can be proactive.  For example, you cannot assume that the person you hire as a teacher actually knows how to teach, or is interested in teaching, or is interested in teaching you - for adult students there are particular traps and potential misunderstandings.  Get an idea of what is involved, including what your own role is - otherwise even if real teaching happens, you may go at it the wrong way yourself.  This is a separate topic actually.  You are right that I did indeed "learn a lesson" and would never be that naive and trusting again.  And definitely be proactive.  I'd rather not have lost the years, or gone through the aggro or confusion. (sigh)

Bob being Bob, his post may have been tongue in cheek and not meant the way it sounded.  If it were meant as serious advice, I was bothered by part of what I read - but have already responded to that.   It was this, in particular and I read it on a bad day.

Quote from: j_tour
'm not so sure there is such a clean line between student-hood and pedagogy, except in theory (after all, what is one of the main activities of someone pursuing an advanced degree?  typically, it's lecturing, or at least providing instruction of pupils of a lower level of education or experience) but nor am I sure there's not a value in discussing teaching as its own discipline.

That's enormously interesting, and, as you say, is an art unto itself:  how does one learn how to learn to teach?
Absolutely true.  I'm not convinced, for example, that university courses in pedagogy are the way, and those who have taken such courses and now do teach, have tended to say that the courses themselves are out to lunch.  When I think of my own postgraduate teaching degree (public school - not music), the most valuable were probably the internships with two memorable teachers among the six with whom I interned.  There was, after the degree, also a 2nd level FSL (2nd language teaching) course which contained valuable ideas that I have applied to both language teaching and music learning/teaching.

I'm thinking about this.  The rule of thumb seems to be to teach intermediate students when you're starting out (assuming they've been well taught - but then, why would they leave that teacher to go to a novice), because those students already have the basic foundations.

If teaching (esp. beginners) - what are the first skills you want to put in place?  What things, taught now, will impact things in the future?  How do you organize a lesson, toward what, and can you prevent over-organizing - have you thought about this aspect, even?  In teachers college we had a lesson planning template by unit or module, and then by subunit - way too rigid for one-on-one - but at least it gave some idea.

If you teach a beginner, and just zip through the "easy music", getting at it as fast as possible (it can be memorized etc.) - have you also zipped through learning to read and relate to notes; learning to move with ease?  And that goes with "what are you teaching toward"?  I'm sort of brainstorming as I write. ;)  Those are the kinds of things I'm thinking about.

Offline j_tour

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Re: How does one become a piano teacher?
«Reply #16 on: September 18, 2019, 02:43:19 AM »
I was thinking about this while taking a long walk today.  The caveat emptor part, where you said I learned a lesson - there are two parts: students (/parents) and teachers.  On the students (/parents) side, I did indeed learn through those experiences.

Yeah, me too, I've thought about this quite a bit recently, in a different context.

In short, I really don't know and I know why I don't know:  it's become a random catchphrase or so universal as to have become nearly meaningless, but it boils down to how much "empathy" one can not only understand, but employ.

Here's a RL challenge from one of my day jobs:  like, I don't know what their deal is.  Tourette's or something.  Anyway, definitely somewhere that is sub-optimal.  I don't know what the diagnosis is, and I don't wish to disparage anyone who has some difficulties, but it's difficult to ignore when you see it every day.

For me, that's why I don't teach children or people without clearly defined goals:  how does one know how to approach such-and-such a person?   Even in casual encounters, like at the grocery store or something.  I don't know:  I only can deal with stuff or people I understand.

I feel like "teaching" in broad strokes is being part-time psychoanalyst, part-time automobile mechanic, part-time mentor:  very few people can wear all those hats at once and excel in all areas.

I very much doubt that there's a general theory of pedagogy, and even if there were, its main text would certainly be filled to the brim with exceptions.  That's in my experience, and why I stress the notion of individual mentorship, tutelage, and hesitate to generalize.
My name is Nellie, and I take pride in helping protect the children of my community through active leadership roles in my local church and in the Boy Scouts of America.  Bad word make me sad.

Offline aclaussen

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Re: How does one become a piano teacher?
«Reply #17 on: September 20, 2019, 02:01:13 AM »
I started teaching 3 months ago with only experience in tutoring math. All my students are quite happy and making great progress. I however do have extensive performing experience. Only one out of 10 or so parents tried to give me a hard time about asking "so how many years teaching experience do you have?" I think that was more because bad first impression and bad chemistry and a bad social interaction more than teaching experience. It was more like at the job interview where they ask some stupid hard question just to stump you when they had already made their decision not to hire you for a totally alternate reason.

If you can play something moderately significantly difficult like any of the Chopin etudes, that means you could at least teach a beginner. I haven't heard you play but from what you're saying you need to put in some more time practicing but you could be there soon (maybe 500-1000 hours of practicing as a wild guess). I mean in terms of teaching someone how to read the clefs, basic music theory, scales, arrpeggios, ect you would have something to offer by that point. But not yet.

I'm willing to bet some of the people who would offer advice conflicting to what I'm offering have the crab-in-a-bucket mentality or something similar. Thinking along the lines of doctors who want to keep others out of their profession through the American Medical Association and lobbying or perhaps thinking like "oh I did it this way so everyone else must do it this way".

So i say just jump into it when you've recorded some more difficult rep. That way you can use it as a means of advertising as well as a goalpost. Don't reject yourself, let the students/parents/clients do that. Advertise yourself and give everything you have to offer your students during the lesson and after the lesson they decide it's not worth it, so be it. Also I get a lot of leads from putting out videos and resume with performance credentials. But don't give up on the first one, my first lesson parents quit but the next 9 loved me.

Oh and I've never taken a pedagogy course.

The music teachers national Association offers some certification. I don't know how much value that'd be in terms of getting students, my guess is is it's a waste of time and money and just a cash grab for MTNA. Maybe go to music school if you are looking for that "official" stuff but I say even that is not necessary.
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Offline keypeg

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Re: How does one become a piano teacher?
«Reply #18 on: September 22, 2019, 07:16:33 AM »
I started teaching 3 months ago with only experience in tutoring math. All my students are quite happy and making great progress.
Can you define what you mean by "progress"?  This is a serious question, btw., and I have a reason for asking.

Are these students who are starting out with you, or are they intermediate students who have a good grounding with a previous teacher?

A period of three months to me is not enough.  When I was a student, I did brilliantly three months in, passed my first exam with distinction, and the whole thing crashed on me and stayed crashed for a longish while, because the underlying foundations had not been given.


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If you can play something moderately significantly difficult like any of the Chopin etudes, that means you could at least teach a beginner.  [/quote       ]
Can you explain how the ability to teach Chopin etudes translates into teaching a beginner (the more difficult level, btw, "at least" would go to early intermediate)?  What in particular makes it so?

Offline dogperson

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Re: How does one become a piano teacher?
«Reply #19 on: September 22, 2019, 11:56:33 AM »
Can you define what you mean by "progress"?  This is a serious question, btw., and I have a reason for asking.

Are these students who are starting out with you, or are they intermediate students who have a good grounding with a previous teacher?

A period of three months to me is not enough.  When I was a student, I did brilliantly three months in, passed my first exam with distinction, and the whole thing crashed on me and stayed crashed for a longish while, because the underlying foundations had not been given.


Quote
If you can play something moderately significantly difficult like any of the Chopin etudes, that means you could at least teach a beginner.  [/quote       ]
Can you explain how the ability to teach Chopin etudes translates into teaching a beginner (the more difficult level, btw, "at least" would go to early intermediate)?  What in particular makes it so?


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Deleted the quote and reply function is merging all replies together

Offline aclaussen

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Re: How does one become a piano teacher?
«Reply #20 on: September 25, 2019, 01:02:58 AM »
Can you define what you mean by "progress"?  This is a serious question, btw., and I have a reason for asking.

Are these students who are starting out with you, or are they intermediate students who have a good grounding with a previous teacher?

A period of three months to me is not enough.  When I was a student, I did brilliantly three months in, passed my first exam with distinction, and the whole thing crashed on me and stayed crashed for a longish while, because the underlying foundations had not been given.


If you can play something moderately significantly difficult like any of the Chopin etudes, that means you could at least teach a beginner.  [/quote       ]
Can you explain how the ability to teach Chopin etudes translates into teaching a beginner (the more difficult level, btw, "at least" would go to early intermediate)?  What in particular makes it so?

These are all intermediate students, grounding varies. I haven't taught students from the ground up before and quite frankly don't really want to unless it was a student who had some kind of other musical background. Some are still working on Faber/method books and probably need to stay working with those books for a bit more before moving to standard repertoire. Others I have moved away from those books and get them to work on classical rep/performance pieces/standard rep because it generates more enthusiasm for me and for the student. The Faber books and others can feel like homework or worksheets in school, while a standard rep (or some piece skill-appropriate that is contemporary but not in the standard rep) offer more chance for a sense of achievement/accomplishment in my opinion.

Progress for me is ability to tackle better rep, a more solid understanding of rhythm, theory, sight-reading, improvisation, performance, ect. If a student after taking a couple months of lessons with me is able to tackle harder rep or more quickly learn an equally difficult piece without me entirely holding their hand, and play that rep with more musicality and entertainment value than before, that's progress. This is what I'm seeing in my students thus far.  I don't see my students "crashing" suddenly at some point. Everything they're learning is building in this pyramid/pool of functional craft/knowledge.

As for choice of Chopin etudes, I mean it's sorta arbirtrary but not really. That would be my personal standard (able to perform any one of the etudes) of what would be an adequate for a beginning classical piano instructor. Not a top 1% master teacher but enough for a typical beginning student. I wouldn't ever hire someone to teach kids who couldn't at least play at that level if they were marketing themselves as a classical piano teacher. I mean if you wanted to learn kickboxing/boxing, even at the most fundamental level, would you want to learn from someone who has just only sparred a couple of times or someone with a lengthy experience, golden gloves, a winning professional record, has trained in Thailand and devoted years of study to the craft? (and yes I know not all performers are great teachers, that's a separate forum discussion). This is sorta the same thing. Playing the Chopin etudes isn't necessarily the piano equivalent a winning professional boxing record but it's further along on the spectrum of competency that is in my opinion adequate for a piano teacher.

 Maybe if someone who could play something easier like gymnopedies they could get a student through their first months/year or so but I don't think the student would be getting as much as they could compared to a teacher who could play the Chopin etudes or something approximately equally difficult (scriabin preludes, rach etudes, beethoven sonatas, ect). I feel that person who could only play gymnopedies, if they're going to teach at all,  should be morally obligated to let go of that student for a more competent teacher when the student has reached a certain point because the student wouldn't be progressing at an appropriate rate. That point would vary for each student but maybe would be around a year.

There are some teachers that might be better suited for beginners who can't play the Chopin etudes but from my observation these teachers hold on to the students way too long. What I'm thinking/imagining is maybe someone who majored in trumpet or music therapy in college or sings in a band on the weekends and teaches piano to make money (Someone who hasn't really devoted enough time on classical piano for a piano teacher). They might have the patience for a preschooler or young child or even totally beginning adult to get them through the first few Faber books so these people have an important place in piano education in my opinion but from what I have observed they hold on to these students for years while the student has slow or non-existent progress. Not that these are bad people or bad musicians but they probably have inadequate knowledge/experience to be a piano teacher. After a year or so these students/parents need to move on but they don't know better.



Alexander Ngo Claussen
my music on spotify: https://spoti.fi/2r2OhaY
playing liszt:https://bit.ly/2QAzKhR

my book-https://www.amazon.com/Chopin-Etudes-Complete-Exercises-Improvisation/dp/1949950913

Offline j_tour

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Re: How does one become a piano teacher?
«Reply #21 on: September 25, 2019, 02:59:41 AM »
What I'm thinking/imagining is maybe someone who majored in trumpet or music therapy in college or sings in a band on the weekends and teaches piano to make money (Someone who hasn't really devoted enough time on classical piano for a piano teacher). They might have the patience for a preschooler or young child or even totally beginning adult to get them through the first few Faber books so these people have an important place in piano education in my opinion but from what I have observed they hold on to these students for years while the student has slow or non-existent progress. Not that these are bad people or bad musicians but they probably have inadequate knowledge/experience to be a piano teacher. After a year or so these students/parents need to move on but they don't know better.

You put it more diplomatically than I would have:  I think such a person would be an appalling disgrace as a human.  Completely without accurate self-assessment, and .... well, I suppose unethical, but no more than a snake-oil salesperson.  I guess there's a sucker born every minute, and caveat emptor, but the failure to deliver on promises and misrepresentation is probably pretty close to saying:  "free Mexican jumping beans for sale, one half of a harmless snake included within each purchase.  No warranty express or implied etc."

There's certainly a place for (adult) people who just want to plunk down their twenty bucks and say, "Hey, show me how to play that rolling Dr. John thing, like on 'Iko, Iko,'" or whatever, but pretending to be a cradle to college instructor, even if one can persuade the relevant authorities (likely, the student's relatives paying the lessons), seems to be no different than a small grift or a con.
My name is Nellie, and I take pride in helping protect the children of my community through active leadership roles in my local church and in the Boy Scouts of America.  Bad word make me sad.

Offline aclaussen

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Re: How does one become a piano teacher?
«Reply #22 on: September 25, 2019, 03:44:36 AM »

You put it more diplomatically than I would have:  I think such a person would be an appalling disgrace as a human.  Completely without accurate self-assessment, and .... well, I suppose unethical, but no more than a snake-oil salesperson.  I guess there's a sucker born every minute, and caveat emptor, but the failure to deliver on promises and misrepresentation is probably pretty close to saying:  "free Mexican jumping beans for sale, one half of a harmless snake included within each purchase.  No warranty express or implied etc."

There's certainly a place for (adult) people who just want to plunk down their twenty bucks and say, "Hey, show me how to play that rolling Dr. John thing, like on 'Iko, Iko,'" or whatever, but pretending to be a cradle to college instructor, even if one can persuade the relevant authorities (likely, the student's relatives paying the lessons), seems to be no different than a small grift or a con.

I didn't mean my previous comment as a diss to people who are music therapists or trumpeters or sing at the coffee shop on weekends or with their band. Those people do things I can't do and wish I could do (I wish I could sing). But when students taking from these teachers inevitably quit piano, part of their problem is the teachers weren't pianists to begin with, in the same way math teachers at your local high school aren't really mathematicians.

The people I'm thinking of aren't really marketing themselves as cradle to college instructors. They are simply selling "music lessons", sometimes they'll include in their marketing that music lessons improve IQ or something. The particular people I'm thinking of (I could name 10 or so people who fit this bill in my local area but of course I won't name real people on a forum like this) have usually built up local businesses through their communities and word of mouth. Little Susie who lives down the block takes lessons with Mary the piano teacher, so maybe our little Sam should too. The parents can't really recognize quality and I don't think are seeking it out. But it turns out to be a shame cause the kids will quit cause Mary wasn't all that passionate about piano to begin with and she herself can't really play the instrument well. (And I'm using the name "Mary" because a majority or so of piano teachers are women, but this could be a guy too).

Is Mary a disgrace as a human? Maybe she has some redeeming qualities but to people who care about the art behind this music yes she's like that snake-oil salesman. My guess is she doesn't have evil intent but rather she's probably just bored (or perhaps enjoys other aspects of the job). Mary could have also opened an online women's boutique fashion outlet or a cupcake store, but she just settled on music lessons cause hey she took some piano lessons when she was a kid. To the other parents in the neighborhood they don't see the crime but pianists who really love the instrument and want to see other people enjoy its great tradition, to see it continue into the 21st century, yes its a crime. I think of all the times I've heard "i wish i kept with piano lessons" attests to this. The Marys' business are doing okay, so maybe if you look at the money you'd say "oh well if the parent's are repeat customers they must be getting value from the service", but if you take a step back I don't think the students are getting any real value (an appreciation for music and the ability to make it) and it's glorified babysitting.

But I still think there is a place for the Mary's, cause a lot of quality teachers don't always want to teach total beginners and youngsters with low attention spans, but as soon as the youngster has a longer attention span or has reached a certain point in pianistic skill, it's ready to switch to someone who can push you further if you're looking to get more out of musical pursuits.

So to the OP, yes you could start teaching lessons for your own personal gain but you'd probably be doing a great disservice to your students and the piano/music/classical community in general. Ie it'd be morally wrong.  A couple years when you could actually tackle rep like Chopin etudes, you could do some real good instead of harm. You'd be more marketable anyways if you waited for that point, should only be a couple of years anyways.

But maybe hey I'm being a hardass. Maybe students will enjoy OP's personality and have fun in the lessons so it's all okay. I personally value certain things (artistry, achievement, musicianship, appreciation for the music, seeing classical music carry on, the lifetime journey of pursuing music) other parents might not care about. Sort of like how not everyone looking for a boxing coach is looking to go pro but might just be looking to get fit. These are just my observations so OP do whatever you want. If they'll pay you for lessons then you're a teacher, there's no central institution like the American Medical Association that says you can be one. My hope is someone can recognize if they're a Mary and if so have the honesty and integrity to let the parent know that they aren't getting all the value they could, even though that would affect Mary's bottom-line. Based on OP's post history don't think he/she fits Mary exactly as I described her. OP seems very interested in instrument and might have the makings of a good teacher but I do think a bit more experience would be useful, but if OP goes into it now, should recognize his limits if the student has gone beyond what they can offer.
Alexander Ngo Claussen
my music on spotify: https://spoti.fi/2r2OhaY
playing liszt:https://bit.ly/2QAzKhR

my book-https://www.amazon.com/Chopin-Etudes-Complete-Exercises-Improvisation/dp/1949950913

Offline j_tour

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Re: How does one become a piano teacher?
«Reply #23 on: September 25, 2019, 04:50:00 AM »
But I still think there is a place for the Mary's, cause a lot of quality teachers don't always want to teach total beginners and youngsters with low attention spans, but as soon as the youngster has a longer attention span or has reached a certain point in pianistic skill, it's ready to switch to someone who can push you further.

So to the OP, yes you could start teaching lessons for your own personal gain but you'd probably be doing a great disservice to your students and the piano/music/classical community in general. Ie it'd be morally wrong.  A couple years when you could actually tackle rep like Chopin etudes, you could do some real good instead of harm. You'd be more marketable anyways if you waited for that point, should only be a couple of years anyways.

But maybe hey I'm being a hardass. Maybe students will enjoy OP's personality and have fun in the lessons so it's all okay. I personally value certain things (artistry, achievement, musicianship, appreciation for the music, seeing classical music carry on, the lifetime journey of pursuing music) other parents might not care about. Sort of like how not everyone looking for a boxing coach is looking to go pro but might just be looking to get fit.

You make a few excellent points:  in fact, when I was growing up in Podunkville, besides just picking up stuff by hanging around my mother's brother, a ragtime/blues/folk music pianist, there was one woman in a five mile radius of where we lived who taught lessons.  She was a very nice older woman (it seemed to me at the time) who could certainly "take" her pupils up through some really elementary primers.  Very unsatisfying, to me, but I'm sure she could have played some very impressive stuff, from the POV of her podunk clientele.  I have no idea:  I was really young and she was just the "neighborhood" teacher. 

[ETA I can't resist an "aside":  this was pretty much Protestant rural America, and that woman didn't even have us learn to harmonize and transpose out of, I don't know, like a Methodist hymnal!  That I cannot excuse!  See?  That would have been a teaching moment, and one I didn't encounter until studying counterpoint in the seventh grade — viz, take "How Great Thou Art" from some SATB hymnal, .... ergh.  Never mind.  It's just back down to maybe some teachers are good for some stuff and some should refer their students to others.  Where applicable. 

It was...well....it was not that good, so I took up saxophone in elementary school and just played music "real people" (to my view at the time) played on piano.  You know, like Eubie Blake, Joplin, Charles Lamb, or just folk tunes in a ragged time.   It's hard to remember back to when one is that young.  I do remember learning to write parts, transpose, and a bit of rhythm from the saxophone, which carried over, but I dropped the instrument when I was fortunate enough to study when we moved out of the sticks.  No, I'll never pick up the alto again, although I got OK at sight-transposing some pop tunes and whatever.  But it was a good experience.  Just the whole "school band"/little kid talent show seemed to pale when I got to play real piano for real people.

I think one of your best points is that one of the keys (har-de-har) to accepting and delivering instruction to true beginners is an ability to transcend the method books, while still using them, and develop a personal rapport.

For me, I just plain don't want to.  Yes, I have some technical issues I work on regularly to do what I want to do for my own uses, but it's not really down to playing such-and-such a concert ιtude.  If that's all it took, then, take your average high-schooler with some skills and just farm them out to teach the guppies.  That's an academic question, really, but for teaching, in a real sense, it's the commitment, as in pre-recording them practice tracks at your DAW and searching out repertoire, and above all, understanding where they're coming from.

Yes, kids, and teenagers and even undergraduates and whatever.  Obviously, they're not horrid space creatures — we were all there once — but it's another thing to remember what it was like, and adjust one's plans accordingly.
My name is Nellie, and I take pride in helping protect the children of my community through active leadership roles in my local church and in the Boy Scouts of America.  Bad word make me sad.

Online timothy42b

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Re: How does one become a piano teacher?
«Reply #24 on: October 02, 2019, 12:04:53 PM »
A few random thoughts.

Even bad teachers are probably trying hard, they just have no clue what is really involved in teaching - vs in playing.  Well some play well, some don't.  But teaching is a separate skill.  Just as parents can't tell a good teacher from bad, teachers may have never seen anyone else teach and don't know themselves what is good and bad. 

When we take lessons, most of our attention is on how to play.  The teacher is at all times demonstrating teaching skills, bad or good, but it is hard to focus on two things and most of us don't pay attention to exactly how the teacher is teaching.  I know I mostly haven't, although that has changed somewhat. 

In our lessons, we may or may not have a good model of a teacher to watch and learn from.  (we may still succeed in playing well)  If we do have a good model, we can only see how he/she approaches one type of student.  And we only have one example of how a good teacher works, and there may be other approaches out there that are as or more effective.

I suggest if one of your goals is to eventually teach, then you should do a couple of things.  Of course take a pedagogy course if available.  But in lessons, pay attention not only to playing well yourself, but to how the teacher is working.  If possible, record (audio or even better video) and watch the recording once to see your technique corrections, and again focusing only on what the teacher is doing.  Second, take lessons from other teachers to see how they work.  Here you can focus even more on their actions because your purpose is different. 

My lessons have been infrequent of late, due to a lot of factors, and my goals have adjusted a bit downwards.  But my distant teacher is in town this weekend playing a gig so we'll get together again.  I'm looking forward to it. 
Tim