Why become a teacher?

Being a teacher has changed my life. I don’t think people quite understand why teaching is so important to me. When my students have a question, I’m always happy to give them an answer. When I see them succeed at learning a song or a small piece, I’m so proud. I’ve always been their number one fan. I’m rooting for them to succeed. And I hope that I can be their mentor. When they grow older, they can pass on the knowledge I gave to them.

Teaching has given me a purpose. I care about their progress and I know it’s my responsibility to help them as much as I can. This has changed my life for the better. I’ve grown to be responsible and I know my students can rely on me to be there for them.

Whenever I see pictures or videos of piano students, I feel a sense of awe. I can’t believe a teacher was able to teach them how to navigate this complex instrument! And I can’t believe I have been doing that for many years now! Behind every successful student, there is a great music teacher. I know I would be nowhere without my teacher. I am so blessed to be a teacher!

Sometimes I feel like my community is so small

I realized that the reason why I was feeling like blogging was going out of style was because I don’t interact with the blogging community enough. I just went through the discovery feed on WordPress and I found tons of great blogs that I would love reading. I felt like I was only experiencing a tiny sliver of what WordPress has to offer. I heard that WordPress has millions of users, but I only followed a few. I am going to connect with the community more and continue to explore. The WordPress community is big! And I’m excited to read amazing blog posts!

How to survive long days as a teacher

Hi everyone 👋 it has been awhile, but I’m trying my best to be consistent in blogging. To be honest, I feel like I’ve already written about all I could possibly write about. And I have no more new ideas. I want to write more though, so I’m going to keep thinking of new blog post ideas. Today’s post is going to be about how to survive long days as a teacher. I’m going to be working for most of the day tomorrow and I thought it would be nice to share how I prepare/survive for these long days. Let’s get right to it.

I feel like I am the queen of coffee lately. I can’t go a day without it and I’m beginning to think that I wouldn’t be able to achieve all of my goals for the day without the help of coffee. That’s just my honest opinion about myself. I’m an addict. I use the McDonald’s app to get $1 coffees in the morning, and I also have Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts reward apps. If I’m really struggling by the end of the day, I’ll drink a second coffee. I’m not ashamed. If you ever wonder how I manage to work, study, and go to the gym every day… the answer is caffeine.

Another thing I try to do is to stack all of my lessons back to back to one another. I used to love down time, but I’ve changed. I’m now more interested in getting as much done in a day. If I have too many breaks in between lessons, I feel like my day is too long. This is an advantage for someone who manages their own schedule. I like to feel the pressure of going to the next lesson. And that makes my days go dramatically way faster.

I use Spotify and pandora during my drives. I don’t think I could be as productive as I am without the help of Spotify. I listen to stations that are test related. And I listen to Pandora when I’m tired. Music makes the time go by faster.

The last thing I do is just trying to relax. I’m not a strict teacher. I tried to be as laid back as I can because I don’t want to be bored during the lesson either. If I know I have a lot of lessons, I will create a game or include something fun to do. I’ll do this for Tuesday’s, Wednesday’s, and Saturday’s. It makes the lesson time go by faster and in return, my students also get to have fun learning.

Resources for the new teacher

I remember my first days of being a new teacher. I didn’t own any extra books. I only had one pencil and one pen. And nothing else really. It was tough. I made my own calendar by drawing lines. I mostly didn’t know what to do or how to organize anything. I was completely new to being a teacher. And I didn’t receive any supplies from anybody. I had to purchase all of my own supplies and come up with all of my own techniques. Now, on the internet, people are sharing their teaching methods everywhere and it is much easier. Back then, it wasn’t as easy.

I learned a lot of my techniques through joining a Facebook group tailored specifically for piano teachers. Whenever I had a problem, I asked other teachers. And this helped a lot. They talked me through many of the initial problems new teachers go through. I feel like I am stronger now because of the support from that group. I’m still a member of that group and I’ve began helping other new teachers. I’m the mentor and it feels great to help other teachers. The advice is free. And they are always willing to help.

I found that there are some apps that you can use on your phone to make teaching easier. In my first couple of years, I was obsessed with using apps and I’ve began to drift away from them. I still use a metronome and tuning app though. Those are my favorites. I would stay away from all other apps because they can be distracting for students. I prefer to have my students learn from a book rather than staring at a screen. In addition to using apps, I’ve found that google is a great resource for looking up musical terms. I have my own pocket dictionary of musical terms that includes all composers, but google is a great resource in the beginning of your teaching career also.

If you have a smartphone, I suggest using text messages to communicate with piano families. It’s much more convenient and you can access it wherever you go. Use technology to your advantage and always look for new ways to maximize your time.

Supplies and books were always a huge obstacle for me. I was always short in supplies until I started making more money. I used secondhand items until I could afford my own. When I discovered the dollar store, everything changed. It’s much cheaper and I would strictly shop from there for supplies. I’ve found that buying supplies from amazon in big bulks is helpful too. My students are always using all of my supplies, so I need a lot for my backup. I shop at my local music store for books because I get a teacher discount, but amazon is great for buying books too. I would go to music stores and ask for their teacher discounts. I’ve found that students can also use my discount because their under my teacher account.

I joined the teachers music association two years ago and it is one of the best decisions I’ve made. They put your name on the teacher directory so other schools can find you if they need a teacher. They provide free resources and books. I went to a music book sale and bought a lot of books because they offered it. And they donated me more books too. I can also offer my students more extra curricular activities. I’ve found it to be a very valuable resource. And I met other teachers too.

I used Facebook neighborhood groups to advertise for my lessons. And the amount of calls I got was way more than other forms of advertisements. Facebook is an amazing resource for advertising and you can also create your own Facebook page for your music studio.

If you want to give your students a great experience, that’s really great. It’s expensive though. And we don’t always have the money for it. I’ve found ways to make small gifts in cheap ways by looking online. And I make my own music flash cards with plain notecards. There are many great resources and things you can do for your students that are cost effective. You just have to be creative.

YouTube is a great resource for learning about teaching. I learned more about teaching techniques and materials by watching YouTube videos. And I also have my students listen to their piano songs on YouTube before learning it. It’s a great free resource to have on the go.

If you don’t know, Spotify offers free podcasts to listen to. And if you have a gmail account, you can access word document and excel sheets for free. I’ve made lecture slides for my students through google drive. And I’ve also printed free domain music sheets online. If you’re using your books for private use, you can photocopy your music sheets for students. I would stockpile all of my good music and my books for reuse for all of my students. Having multiple students use a performance book or a sightreading book can dramatically cut costs.

If you’re anything like me, you need lots of coffee. I’ve found that Starbucks offers an account to earn free drinks and food. I use that frequently to earn stars. I also have a Dunkin’ Donuts card to earn points. If you have the McDonald’s app, the large coffees are only $1 and you can earn free coffee there too. I use the curbside pickup to save time. And the breakfast sandwiches are a penny too. I always grab food there early before my lessons or during my breaks. If you’re looking for lunch, download the Sonics app and you get access to happy hour 24/7. All drinks are half off and they offer deals on there too. If you have a smoothie king account, they offer a rewards system. If you want $2 extra when you sign up, you can use my referral link here. If you exercise at a gym, they might offer extra discounts for smoothies at tropical smoothie. All of us teachers are always looking for good drinks and food. I hope that helps.

Once you get started teaching, you’ll get better at being a teacher. And many things will become reflexive the more you do it. There are so many resources available and I hope you take advantage of it all. Keep researching and working hard!

Seven Quick and Easy Tips for New Teachers

If you’re a new teacher, you know the anxiety of starting your teaching career. What do you buy? What do you absolutely need? What is the budget like? I want to give you some quick advice if you’re a new teacher. We all need some help once in awhile:

1. Don’t buy a lot of supplies. You won’t need them all your first year, and you’ll end up stockpiling junk later on.

2. You don’t have to participate in all of the holidays and birthdays. It’s okay to relax your first year and not celebrate holidays like Easter. It’s not necessary. And you’ll need to save money later on anyways.

3. Don’t buy too many rewards/incentives! I’m still using up my stickers I bought three years ago. Buy them as you go and I suggest going to the dollar store to buy them. It’s much cheaper there.

4. You’ll figure out things as you go. Take a deep breath and find solace in the fact that we all have to start somewhere. Teaching is a learning process. You’ll get better at it as you go.

5. Don’t copy other peoples’ ideas. Create your own instead. Think about the best ideas that fit your personality and do it. It’s easy to get caught up in other teachers’ stuff, but it’s easy to just focus on yourself. If you are unique, your students will value you more. They won’t be able to find another teacher like you!

6. Know that you’ll have tough students pretty often. And learn not to take it personally. Be firm, but try not to be mean. It’s important to not let them overstep your authority.

7. Enjoy teaching. It’s easy to get caught up in the technicalities and the curriculum. Remember that your students are young pupils that are in their adolescence. Being too strict can be more harmful than beneficial. Let them laugh and share a joke or two!

How Being a Teacher Causes Stress

strongly believe that every teacher goes through periods where they have an intense amount of stress. I could be having a good one or two months of bliss, and then I’ll be stressed. I think the things that make me the most stressed is the amount of prep I have to do before each lesson. Books are a huge problem for me. And when my students level up from a book, almost all of them level up at the same time; it means that i’ll have to go and get new books. What happens if you can’t remember the lesson books that your students are in? That’s what i’m stressed about right now. I just leveled up a couple of students from their books and I have a new batch of students to level up. And I can’t seem to remember their book levels. I know I’m probably overreacting, but I like to be perfect. And it’s taking all of my courage to admit this.

Another thing that causes me stress is when it is musicianship exam and competition season. It’s a huge deal to me to make sure that all of my students are prepared and ready. I think that I’m more stressed than my students are during this time. We have to pick songs from specific guidelines and we have to follow all of the rules. If you don’t abide by these rules, they disqualify you automatically. Last year, I went on a trip to Florida with my family. While I was there, I got a couple of calls from the music association saying that the songs I picked for my students don’t follow the guidelines stated. I was so stressed about this because I had spent a lot of energy preparing for this festival. And this festival required me to volunteer also. I spent hours that night coordinating with the music association and I planned new songs. It was tough because I only had a couple of weeks until the actual day of the festival to prepare my students for these new songs. When I came back, I was in a rush to prepare my students. Thankfully, nothing went horribly wrong, but i’m promising myself that I won’t mess up like that this year.

Musicianship exams take months to prepare for. And they can be difficult. Students have to complete a written exam and perform a playing test for a judge. There are tons of guidelines and other requirements that the students have to meet. I spend these months walking through every single detail of these tests with my students and I also hold extra rehearsals for these. I won’t say that I haven’t been worrying about these exams yet because they’re next year, but I feel like I haven’t been putting them as my top priority. And right now, as the date gets closer, I am feeling the stress emerging.

As I admit all of this, my stress is slowly disappearing although I haven’t done anything in the last couple of hours to complete the work I need to do. Admitting all of this is the first step. I feel more empowered now to get my work done. And I want to add more things to my lessons. There are so many things to do and now… it’s time for me to get to doing it. Thank you for listening!

It’s been quiet in the blogging sphere 🍃

There was a huge influx of bloggers posting and I haven’t seen any new posts lately. My favorite bloggers haven’t been posting any new blog posts either. It’s been surprisingly quiet lately.

I’ve been thinking about blogging in comparison to artists. We all set up our shops with our content and we hope someone likes them enough to stop by. Our content are our art pieces 🖼 and we are the artists; this reminds me of the classical era in music. Composers like Beethoven were writing original pieces and hoping that they gain popularity. He was renowned for his work. And terribly disliked by his community. Beethoven wrote hundreds of songs and he always remained focused on his greater work. As bloggers, we have to consistently focus on our work. If we don’t post for awhile, our blog becomes forgotten. On the other hand, if you post great content, they will never be forgotten. Fur Elise is not forgotten. Actually, it’s one of the most popular songs of all time. These are just my thoughts about blogging today.

Let me know what you think 💭

Can you learn the piano by yourself?

Yes, you can learn the piano by yourself. However, it is best to have a teacher by your side to guide you through the difficult stages of learning the piano. There are techniques such as fluid hand motion and technical issues that you can’t solve by yourself. Imagine if you tried to learn how to fix your sink and you spent hours googling how to do it. You could have just hired a plumber to come fix it and they could have done it in 30 minutes.

I know that this isn’t what people want to hear. It’s not what I would want to hear if I was a beginner, but I don’t want to lie to you. I don’t want to sell you a piano course that doesn’t guarantee that you will learn the piano. I don’t want to sell you a product that might work. I actually want to give you advice that will save you time and money. You can’t do everything yourself. I’ve seen many students fail at learning the piano by themselves. Please don’t listen to all the advertising gibberish online. You need to find a piano teacher that can physically be right next to you and to guide you through this process. Don’t waste your money on anything else. I’ve seen many instances where it doesn’t work.

I hope this helps you and let me know if there are anymore topics that you want me to discuss.

The Best Complete Guide to Piano Lessons and Everything You Need to Know to Get Started

Hi, welcome to my blog, if this is your first time on here. I’m going to tell you all about piano lessons: where to look for lessons, which books to buy, how to pick a teacher, when to practice, and many more. I’ve found that many students don’t know that much about piano lessons before getting started and I haven’t seen a complete guide to help students get started on the internet yet. I thought I should be the first one to pioneer this guide. I’ve also linked the products into this post, so it is easier for you to purchase what you need.

Purchasing a Piano

Not many students know where to purchase a piano. I wrote a blog that discusses the various types of pianos to buy for different level players. When you’re just beginning, it’s best to purchase a keyboard. You don’t know if you’re going to like piano and purchasing a keyboard is more affordable than buying a real piano. I would choose a keyboard that has 88 keys as that means it’s a full piano. And I would make sure that it comes with a stand to hold it up. Quality is definitely better than a cheap keyboard. I would not buy a keyboard that is $100 or less, especially if you’re going to buy it online. You never know what you’re going to get. And in my experience, these kinds of keyboards are flimsy and not worth buying. If you can, I would consult with your piano teacher about the best keyboard to purchase. If you can’t, I would look at the reviews online. Essentially, a keyboard with 88 keys will not be cheap, but it’s better than wasting $80 on an unusable keyboard on amazon.

I’ve looked on amazon and here are some keyboards that I recommend:

https://amzn.to/2ALaigj

https://amzn.to/31Pspxz

Additional things to consider are if the keyboard comes with a piano bench or not. It’s nice to have a piano bench, but it’s obviously not necessary. Check to see if the stand where it holds music is either flimsy or unusable. I would purchase a music stand if you find that you need to do so. It will hold your music for you and you can put it behind your keyboard.

I think pedals are absolutely necessary to purchase. Most keyboards support the use of an extended pedal, but you should be careful to check if the pedal is compatible. Look at the requirements of the keyboard before buying a pedal.

Another accessory to purchase later on in your studies is a piano light. You need good lighting near your piano and I would either purchase a light that clips on to your books or a lamp near the piano. Pictured below is what my set up looks like:

58206257922__64f4efbd-f792-4fa3-a2c4-805d16f39c4c
I have an upright Pramberger piano that I love, but yours will most likely be a keyboard. It’s okay, I think keyboards are wonderful also.

I’ll link to my blog post about the cost of pianos here: How much does a piano cost? (Keyboard, Upright and Grand Piano) A helpful guide to also buying a piano

Buying Books

The music store is your best bet to buying a book, but online on amazon is wayyyy better; it’s cheaper online to purchase than purchase in a store. If you are an adult, I would purchase the Faber Adult Lesson 1 Book and nothing else. People have a tendency to buy books that contain material way beyond their level. Don’t waste the money. If you are looking to purchase a book for a younger child five years or younger, I would buy the Primer Level Faber Lesson Book. If your child is older than five years old, I would purchase Lesson Book A Faber Piano Adventures. And if they are teenagers, I would suggest starting them in the Lesson Book B Faber Book with the Faber Writing Book B.

Buying books is not an ordeal to stress over. It would be stressful if you buy unnecessary books. I can’t imagine having books you can’t use just sitting there.

Looking for a teacher: music store vs. independent contracted teachers

I am an independent teacher and I do not teach at a store. I’ve found that teachers at music stores cost more than independent teachers. For independent teachers, you’ll have to travel to their home to have a piano lesson. There are some teachers that teach online. I would avoid lessons online because they’re much more of a hassle than necessary. Regular lessons range from being 30 minutes, 45 minutes, or 1 hour. Typically, a piano teacher will not teach less than 30 minutes and no one will teach for more than an hour. A decent price for a 30 minute lesson is $30-40. And anything more than that is not worth the price. Lessons are going to be once a week. If the child is younger, I would suggest trying 20 minutes twice a week if the teacher is okay with that. Younger children tend to have more difficulty sitting still for 30 minutes at a time.

Finding a great teacher will take multiple attempts. Some teachers’ styles of teaching might not vibe with yours. And you have to be picky when choosing a teacher. Once you’ve found a good piano teacher, treat them well and make sure your payments are on time. A good teacher is one in a hundred. Trust me.

How do I practice?

Practicing is an art that will take time to master. I would strive for 10-15 minutes of practice every day because quantity is going to be better. It’s better to practice often than to practice one hour once a week.

Imagine if you’re paying for lessons and you see your teacher once a week. Seven days go by and you haven’t even opened your book. Oops. Seven days is a long time to waste and you’ve most likely forgotten what your teacher taught you. Remember: practice often.

If your teacher assigns you a song, practice the most difficult parts of the song. I wouldn’t waste my time on repeating the same easy parts. Your time is valuable and it is not a good use of time to play only the easy sections.

How long does it take to learn the piano?

It varies for everyone and I wouldn’t be worried if it takes you two or three years to start seeing significant results. Three months or less is not enough time to learn the piano. I would look at learning the piano as a long term endeavor. The more time you invest into practicing and learning the piano, the better you’ll become.

For young children, three years is a decent amount of time for them to grasp all the basic knowledge and skills they’ll need. Adults will learn faster, but be wary of not committing and quitting early. Just because you’re older, it doesn’t mean that you won’t struggle with musical concepts either. A good piano teacher is an absolute must if you are serious about learning the piano. And YouTube will not suffice along with apps like simply piano.

As a music teacher, I’m sad to say that I don’t endorse apps for music learning. I think Josh Wright’s videos on YouTube are superb for learning piano concepts. I also recommend Paul Barton’s videos for advice on the piano. I just don’t like music apps. They charge too much and many aspiring piano players waste their money on them.

How do I stay motivated or how do I find the time to practice with my busy schedule?

All adults will struggle with committing to a practice schedule. I am guilty of this too, don’t worry. I usually practice the hour or two hours before my lesson starts. And I think that’s okay. I understand that all of us have other responsibilities and obligations. We don’t always have time to practice. Don’t be hard on yourself for this.

As far as motivation goes, you have to keep trying. A great teacher will be able to keep you on track and you just have to trust the process. You’ll start learning the basics and it’s okay to start from the beginning; everyone has to start somewhere. Just don’t let yourself quit right away until you have given it your best try. 

Types of pianos

There are multiple types of pianos and I will provide a picture for each type.

Digital Piano:

j17211000001000-00-290x290-1

Keyboards:

810vuEXdrgL._SL1500_Keyboard-Piano-Buying-Guide

Upright Piano:

Untitled_3dcc42d74baae86142e7b1f62bdc4512

Baby Grand Piano:

yamaha_baby_grand_piano_for_rent2-e1463093616843-1000x1218

Grand Piano:

ae00-35324

Brands of pianos

Yamaha pianos are great for long term piano students. They last forever and the touch is a little heavy. I find that the sound is less resonant, but these pianos are beautiful.

Kawai pianos are also fantastic. I suggest looking into deals or coupons before purchasing these pianos. On their website, they offer great deals. Music stores often offer deals on these pianos. And the price range for these high quality pianos are high.

I can attest to Pramberger pianos being the best. I enjoy the light touch, bright sound, and the great quality of the keys. These pianos last forever and I would never purchase another piano other than a Pramberger piano.

Other brands you may see are Bosendorfer, Bluthner, Steinway & Sons, Bechstein, Fazioli, Mason and Hamlin, Stuart and Sons, Schimmel, and Grotrian Steinweg.

The best selling piano brands are Steinway & Sons, Mason & Hamlin, Bosendorfer, Fazioli, Kawai, Bechstein, Baldwin, Charles R. Walter, and Yamaha. 

I suggest that when you are looking at pianos, consider the touch of the piano (how it feels when you play it- light/heavy), the sound (bright/deep), the color (black, wood, or white), and where you are going to place it in your home.

Print sheet music at home

If there are songs that you want to play, but you don’t want to buy the entire book, check out sheet music online. I would google “canon in D piano sheet music” and print out the public domain copy of the song. There are popular songs that don’t cost anything to print and there will be songs that you have to pay for. I wouldn’t purchase anything unless you know that the sheet music the owner provides is unique and can’t be found anywhere else.

Additional Resources

I have other blogs about playing the piano below. Pick the ones you need and I hope this information is helpful for you! Continue to read my blog for more information on playing the piano.

Five Techniques/Exercises for Beginner Piano Players to Gain Finger Strength and How to Play Better

How to afford multiple music lessons at a time

5 Simple tips on how to improve communication with your piano teacher or the student’s parents

What to expect from your child’s teacher

5 tips on how to find a good piano teacher

Keyboard or Real Piano?

Is amazon trustworthy for buying piano books?

Do you like reading my blogs? If you want more, please check out Cleverly Begun and Live Strong and Beautiful